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Williams schooled on new instant replay rules

Feb 22, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

VIERA, Fla. — Expanded instant replay is coming to baseball this season, and Matt Williams has now been schooled on many more details of the new system MLB is implementing that allows managers to officially challenge blown calls on the field.

Williams joined fellow managers Fredi Gonzalez, Bo Porter and Brad Ausmus in Kissimmee on Friday afternoon for a 2 1/2-hour meeting with MLB officials, including Joe Torre, on the new system and came away much more knowledgeable about the process.

“They came with a full presentation, including video and examples,” he said. “It was really informative.”

Among the more interesting details Williams shared from the meeting…

— Managers will be allowed to formally challenge one call during the first six innings of a game. If successful, they may challenge once more. From the seventh inning on, including extra innings, the umpires themselves decide whether to review a play. A manager, though, can try to convince an umpire to go to instant replay without formally using his challenge.

— All challenges will be decided by a crew of active umpires watching from MLB’s headquarters in New York. The same video feed they receive will also be available in the Nationals’ video room inside their clubhouse, where a team employee can watch replays and call via a direct phone line to the dugout and suggest whether the play should be challenged or not. “Our video guys would get the same feed that they have in New York, so they can make an educated decision,” Williams said.

— In order to prevent stalling, there are guidelines in place for how long managers will have before they must declare that they’re challenging a play. Those guidelines will vary depending on the game situation. For example, if a pitching change is being made, the challenge must be declared before the new relievers enters from the bullpen.

— Among the plays that cannot be challenged: Balls and strikes, fair/foul calls in which the ball travels directly over first or third base, trapped line drives in the infield and the so-called “neighborhood play” at second base (unless a poor throw clearly draws the fielder off the bag).

  1. therealjohnc - Feb 22, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Query about the “neighborhood play,” Mark. You added the parenthetical “(unless a poor throw clearly draws the fielder off the bag)”

    I’ve never seen that qualifier before when discussing the new rule. Since the throw is at least part of the reason for the phantom tag of second base on many of the times the neighborhood play is made, does a slightly offline throw introduce a challengeable element to the play? How would that be distinguished from the situation where a fielder goes to the throw (instead of reaching for it) in order to get out of the way of the baserunner?

  2. wadelefler556 - Feb 23, 2014 at 2:19 AM

    It’s my belief that replay ultimately undermines the officials in other sports and will undermine the umps over time. Eventually they come to believe the final decision isn’t theirs and they pass the buck. The “we just want to get it right” argument holds no water as there are no stats on how many plays umps/officials actually get wrong. My guess is it isn’t many. Instal replay and soon you will have opened the door for big money television to have a say in rule changes, making calls, perhaps even balls and strikes, and the outcome of the game.TV has inserted itself into the other leagues, proposing and signing off on rules changes and are already encroaching into the grand old game. The current non issue of home plate crashes is a case in point. By inserting themselves into the argument, TV broadcasters assume a power over the sport they “cover” they should not have. Newsflash, replay can get it wrong too and often does. Look at football, invisible people in some mythical “booth” we never see, interfere in dozens of plays a game, influencing the outcome of every contest. TV loves replay because they feel it ads drama, but it also makes the dunderheads broadcasting the game actually part of the game experience. I’m sorely against it!

    -WadeLefler556

  3. Section 222 - Feb 23, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    I thought if the throw clearly pulls the runner off the base the umps will already call the runner at 2nd safe. So now, you can’t challenge the “neighborhood” call, but you can challenge whether the throw pulled the fielder off the base? And when the review is made the issue will be whether the throw pulled the fielder off rather than whether the fielder’s foot was on the base when he fielded the throw?

    That’s insane.

  4. natslifer - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    Mark – What about the infield fly rule? The Cards-Braves call was one of the most controversial of the last couple of years. Is that on the excluded list?

    • Mark Zuckerman - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      Don’t believe they can challenge the actual usage of the infield fly rule. Williams did say the “trap” plays can only be reviewed for outfielders, not infielders, and that in order for it to be reviewable, the ball must have landed beyond the deepest infielder.

  5. Doc - Feb 23, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    The more I look at the photo that Mark posted of ARen, the more it looks like our kid has put on some weight from last year’s photos.

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