The back-and-forth arguments over: fair or foul, out or safe, and caught or not are going to become a bit less controversial in the 2014 MLB season. Finally, the league is implementing a replay system that will allow umpires to review plays in order to overturn or uphold calls.
In Thursday's Dodgers-Angels exhibition the replay technology was being implemented, and in the first inning was put on display. After Mike Trout hit a fly ball past a diving Yasiel Puig, he was thrown out at home in an attempt to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run.
It was a bang-bang play as Puig tracked down the ball and hit Hanley Ramirez with a perfect cut-off throw. Ramirez relayed a strike to home plate where A.J. Ellis got a quick tag on Trout for the out.
Immediately following the play, Angels manager Mike Scoscia exited the dugout to argue the call. The play was then set to replay where the umpires upheld their call.
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This one play exhibited several new rules coming in the 2014 season. Many expected that this was Scoscia arguing over the tag at the plate, using his one challenge. Both managers get one challenge throughout the first-six innings of play. From the seventh inning on, only the umpires may call for replay.
It happens that Scoscia was not arguing the play, but the new home-plate collision rules that the MLB put into play for 2014. He wanted to make sure that Ellis was not blocking the plate in an illegal manner.
The umpires voluntarily went to video review, therefore Scoscia still had his challenge remaining. The ruling was that Ellis had not made an illegal block at the plate. The review took just over a minute to complete.
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In one exciting play all the parties involved learned several new rules, but also left with questions. One of the most pressing being will a coach’s argument, like Scoscia’s, lead to umpires consulting replay without it counting as a challenge? Or is this just a pre-season clarification of the home-plate blocking rules?
Overall, this play shows that the MLB replay system, and collision rules, are going to play an important part of the 2014 season. But, the umpires and teams need to have a complete understanding in order for the game to benefit.