It's not often that all 30 MLB owners, managers, umpires, and players agree on something. This offseason, they all agreed on new expanded instant replay rules that will start this season. A lot of people think this is a good thing, including me.
I like it because I want the umpires to get the calls right. I remember last year when an umpire said that Alex Rios of the Rangers was out at third base when replays showed he was safe. This was in September, when the Rangers were trying to make the playoffs, and they were playing the A’s, who were in first place at the time. The Rangers ended up losing that game by one run and ended up missing the playoffs by one game.
One of the most famous blown calls came in 2010, when Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game when the batter hit the ball to the first baseman. He fielded it and threw it to Galarraga, who was covering first, in time to beat the runner. But umpire Jim Joyce called him safe. This is now known as the “imperfect perfect game,” and under the new rules that would not happen.
The new rules say that managers will get one challenge per game. They will have to use it within the first six innings, after that it is up to the crew chief to decide whether a call should be reviewed. If a manager wins a challenge, they get one more, but they cannot get more than two in a game. There are certain plays that can and can’t be challenged.
Something I think is very interesting will be the way the managers throw out the red challenge flag. I think that Rays manager Joe Maddon is the most interesting manager in the history of the game. So I would not be surprised if he has fun with throwing the red challenge flag onto the field. I think he might throw it behind the back to show off his arm strength. He might shoot it like a slingshot. Or, if he is mad, he might throw it up in the air very high like a pop fly.
I think replay will slow the game down just a little, but it will be worth it to get the calls right. The thing that I see as a bad thing is that having replay will cut down on those funny moments when managers throw bases and kick dirt on home plate because they are mad about a call.
Now keep in mind that the new expanded replay rules are for the majors only. This does not affect the minors, so there will still be very funny moments where the managers argue about calls – like the time a Braves minor league manager had a temper tantrum that is arguably the best ejection in sports history...