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Rounding Third: Expanded replay long overdue for MLB

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Let's face, it there was never going to be an instant replay solution for Major League Baseball that would have appealed to everyone.

I've always been of the belief that if there is a way to get things right, then do it. Purist nonsense aside, there is no reason that an umpire's blown call should cost a team a game.

Not in 2014 anyway. Yes, there was a time when a missed home run call was part of the game, but in case you haven't noticed, MLB is big business now. Real big business by the way if you happen to be a two-time Cy Young Award winner.

It seems as if we have been talking about replay forever. It's still mind boggling that Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game because of a blown call.

So, after dabbling in the replay business the past few seasons, its expansion was unanimously approved by all 30 owners on Thursday, as MLB took a gigantic step toward the 21st century.

"I am very pleased that instant replay will expand to include additional impactful plays," MLB commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "The new system will give managers valuable recourse in potentially game-changing situations. The opportunity for our fans to see more replays in our ballparks is also an important modification that the clubs and I favored."

Under the new system, managers will start each game with one challenge. If correct on the first challenge, they would receive a second. No manager may challenge more than two plays in a game.

Once the manager has exhausted his ability to challenge plays during the game and after the beginning of the seventh inning, the crew chief may choose to invoke instant replay on any reviewable call.

Home run and other boundary calls will remain reviewable under the procedures in place last season.

The following play types will be subject to review: home run; ground-rule double; fan interference; stadium boundary calls; force play (except the fielder's touching of second base on a double play); tag play (including steals and pickoffs); fair/foul in outfield only; trap play in outfield only; batter hit by pitch; timing play (whether a runner scores before a third out); touching a base (requires appeal); passing runners and record keeping (ball- strike count to a batter, outs, score and substitutions).

"As many know, the players agreed to the expanded use of instant replay in 2011, during the last round of collective bargaining," MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. "However, today's announcement includes a number of reviewable plays that were not part of those negotiations.

"Because of the increased number of reviewable plays and the many new procedures that were proposed, Major League Baseball required more than the consent of the players. The issue required full review and negotiation with our union and with the umpires' union before its implementation in 2014. The players look forward to the expanded use of replay this season, and they will monitor closely its effects on the game before negotiating over its use in future seasons."

One glaring omission in the expansion was the fact that the "neighborhood play" at second base -- when infielders step on the area around the base but not the base itself while turning double plays -- will not be reviewable.

Obviously, and rightfully so, both sides erred on the side of caution when it comes to player safety on that one.

But, if there is going to be a central command that reviews every play, why is there a need for manager challenges? If there is a blown call, a manager is still going to come out and argue. In the time it takes for that to happen, someone in the central command center could just notify the umpire that a play is going to be reviewed.

Games take forever as it is. I doubt fans would mind if it takes a little longer to make sure the calls are correct. And if MLB is so concerned about time of games, why doesn't it cut down on the commercial breaks between innings.

Something tells me that suggestion is not on the docket.

It's not a perfect system, but we are a lot closer to getting it "right" than we were in 2013. At the end of the day, isn't that what's most important anyway?

01/17 11:55:53 ET

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