Last week Major League Baseball and the umpires union came to an agreement regarding pay and benefits during the 2020 season., though they will continue to receive their retirement and health benefits.
As part of the new agreement with the umpires, MLB can unilaterally eliminate the use of instant replay in 2020, according to the Associated Press. Baseball first adopted instead replay in 2008 and the system expanded to its current version, which includes manager's challenges, in 2014.
It is unclear where games will be played once baseball returns, and spring training and minor-league parks are not outfitted with the same replay capabilities as MLB stadiums. Rather than play some games with full replay and others at a neutral site with a lesser system, MLB would simply scrap replay all together to make it fair.
There are other benefits to scrapping replay. First and foremost, pace of play would improve, because there are moments in every game (often several moments) where we sit around and wait for the manager to get the thumbs up from the video replay person to challenge a play. That would go away.
Also, MLB is coming off its most significant sign-stealing scandals in decades. Theand were found to have improperly used the video replay room to decode the opponent's signs, which were then relayed to the hitter. Shelving instant replay for a season would eliminate at least some sign-stealing opportunities.
The 2020 season will be unlike any MLB season in recent memory. There's no sense in pretending it will be anything like a normal season.. Getting the call right is important, but eliminating replay could create a better viewing experience.