OK, we’ve got the new pace of play rules but not with the League/Players Association easy agreement that was originally indicated. Recently, MLB Players Association executive director, Tony Clark stated that the Players Association did not agree with the changes but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred mandated all that he wanted to be done with the exception of the pitch clock. We’ll see how that tussle plays out in future seasons.
The final area of importance addressed this season is the video review process. This is the tool that a manager uses to decide whether to challenge an out or safe call in a close play. The success or failure of these challenges often can be crucial to the outcome of a game.
Here’s the deal. Each manager has the ability to make one challenge in a regular season game. If the challenge is successful, he can make one more challenge. From the time that the umpire’s call is made, the manager has 10 seconds to signal the umpire that he wants to review the play. He then has 30 seconds for his video review crew to look at the play and based on their recommendation to signal whether or not he wants to challenge. That’s not a lot of time to make what may be a critical decision particularly when the video review crew is watching a bang-bang play in real time. Remember, the final call will be made by the replay czar in New York who has had the advantage of reviewing the play in Super SloMo from a variety of angles. However, this season the league has made some adjustments that should benefit the clubs. Basically, this has been done through the addition of new technology. All club video review rooms will immediately receive direct slow-motion camera angles. Also, new phone lines will connect the video review rooms and the dugout. These phone lines will be monitored to prevent any hanky-panky like sign stealing. The manager still only has 30 seconds to make a decision but at least now his video review crew will be looking at the same slow-motion shots that they will be reviewing in New York if a challenge is made.
Let’s just hope all this tinkering doesn’t change the spirit and play of the game that fans have loved for over 100 years. Face it — there is no joy in Mudville over these new rules. Maybe Mighty Casey didn’t strike out, unless of course, a Super SloMo replay reveals that his final swing was not a foul tip.
Enough! It’s time to play ball. In my next column on March 22 hopefully we’ll be able to take a look at the Rockies final 25-man roster as they get ready to face the Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Opening Day, March 29.
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