Tuesday, November 21, 2017

MLB: Don't fear the replay

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In briefing managers and officials from the Rays and four other teams Sunday on specifics of the new expanded replay system, a top MLB executive acknowledged that no one will know how certain elements of the plan actually work until the season starts and that changes might be necessary.

But the league also made it clear that it doesn't want players to be worried about it.

"One thing you have to make sure is that they can't concern themselves with replay," MLB executive vice president Joe Torre said after the three-hour meeting. "They have to play the game the way they normally would play it. The replay is a strategy for the manager, and let it be that. It's tough enough to play the game without trying to factor that part in."

Noting all the time, money, planning and effort that went into the process, Torre said that more than anything they are "curious" how it will actually work.

"It's never been done before," he said. "We're just going to see how (it works) and hopefully we're not going to disrupt the game."

The new plan allows for replay to be used on a wide variety of calls, though not balls and strikes, and includes a challenge system for managers, who can request one review during a game and, if they are right, get to use a second. From the seventh inning on, umpires can unilaterally request a review, which will be done at a central location in New York.

Torre said the system is just about finalized, though it won't be used for international opening games in Australia on March 22-23.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was impressed with the detail that went into the plan.

"They thought about everything. At least it seems that way on the surface. So we'll just see how it plays out," he said. "It's just about getting the call right. It's not about anything other than that. It's just, how do we get the call right and how do we keep the game moving along, and we'll see. I think it was well thought out, and you've got to play it to find out."

The Rays will get a sampling of the process, with six of their spring games tentatively scheduled to have replay in use, starting March 7 in Dunedin.

Torre admitted that as many scenarios and hypotheticals as they've considered, they know the system might have some flaws.

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