By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Major League Baseball is expanding the use of instant replays by umpires, starting this season.
Starting this spring, managers will be allowed to challenge most umpire rulings — about 90 percent of plays — changing the game and the fan experience at the ballpark.
Paul Hagen, an MLB.com sportswriter who is in the Baseball Hall of Fame, calls the rule change historic.
“For the first time ever, a manager can really take control when he thinks the umpire’s missed a call,” Hagen tells KYW Newsradio.
Instead of just yelling and kicking dirt around, managers will be able to challenge decisions by calling for a review of the slow-motion recording — just like in the NFL.
“I just don’t want it to ruin the fluidness of a game,” said Ben Davis, Comcast Sportsnet analyst and former MLB catcher. Davis expressed concern that the use of video reviews will make games, already methodical, even longer. He also thinks it takes away a little bit of the human element away from baseball.
Among the plays can be challenged is being hit by a pitch, which Davis says may affect someone like Chase Utley.
“He doesn’t do anything to get out of the way of a pitch,” Davis notes, “so I’m anxious to see if sometimes he gets drilled or something, or leans into a pitch, if that is something they are going to look at and say, ‘You know what, Chase? You had an opportunity to get out of the way. Come back (to the plate), we’re going to make you hit.’ ”
In addition, teams will now be allowed to show disputed plays on the big screen, giving those at the park the same look as those watching at home.