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MLB is making a substantial change to its replay review process for the upcoming season.
Instant replay has been a generally well-received innovation over the past decade in sports leagues. While umpires generally do a commendable job deciding bang-bang plays on the bases or fair/foul calls, review has ensured, in theory, that outcomes are determined correctly.
Except, all too often, it feels like theory is all it is.
Especially in MLB, umpire calls on the field seem to be given enormous weight. Video will frequently show what seems like obvious evidence worthy of overturning the original call. Only for the decision to stand as called.
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The seemingly opaque reasoning has frequently led to disagreements and frustration from players, managers and fans.
But that’s now about to change. At least somewhat.
MLB has announced that they’re going to show an inside view of the process inside the New York replay center.
MLB to Add Transparency
MLB issued a statement in conjunction with Zoom that describes how they aim to “enhance MLB games and the fan viewership experience.”
“Major League Baseball (MLB) and Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership for the league, aimed to enhance MLB games and the fan viewership experience. As the new Official Unified Communications Platform of MLB, Zoom Contact Center, and the Zoom platform technology will power new elements of Major League games and broadcasts.”
Essentially, fans will be able to listen in to an “expert rules analyst” explaining and discussing the call on the field and available replays.
“Beginning with the 2023 Season, the Crew Chief, the most senior member of the four-man umpire crew,will connect to the Zoom Replay Operations Center using Zoom’s Contact Center solution during any replay review. During national broadcasts on MLB Network and Apple TV+, fans will also see the Zoom Replay Operations Center in action live during replay reviews and hear from an expert rules analyst who will discuss replay reviews with the broadcast team. MLB’s goal with this new setup is to create a more transparent and engaging review process.”
That sounds like a mostly positive change!
Replay reviews can be infuriating, when the evidence seems clear and the call still stands. Adding further explanation and analysis may help eliminate some of that frustration.
However this change will only apply to national broadcasts for games on MLB Network and Apple TV+. If it proves successful and useless, hopefully it expands quickly to national broadcasts on other networks. And eventually to regional channels.
Although given recent news, regional channels may soon be MLB operated anyway.
With the season just a few weeks away, fans won’t have to wait long to see the new, hopefully improved, system in action.