Beginning this season Major League Baseball umpires will make in-ballpark announcements explaining decisions made during the replay review process, the league announced Friday. "We're pleased to launch this enhancement to the ballpark and broadcast experiences. Training has been held in Arizona and Florida this spring," the league said.
MLB began using limited instant replay in 2008 and it has evolved over the years into the system we see today. When replay is used, the crew chief and relevant umpire get on the headset to discuss the play with MLB's central review office, which makes all decisions. The umpire then makes the appropriate signal (safe or out, fair or foul, etc.) without explanation.
There are three official outcomes of the replay system:
- Confirmed: Clear and convincing evidence is found to support the original call on the field.
- Overturned: Clear and convincing evidence is found showing the original call was incorrect.
- Inconclusive: There is insufficient evidence, so the original call stands.
MLB is the last of the four major North American sports to make officials announce replay review decisions to the crowd. Referees and umpires in the NBA, NHL, and NFL all announce replay decisions and have for years. Some, like NHL referee Wes McCauley, inject a little personality in their announcements to work the crowd.
I would bet against an MLB umpire having fun with the announcement process like McCauley, but at least now we'll get explanations for replay decisions. A lot of times we're left in the dark -- that includes people watching at home, not just those at the ballpark -- wondering why a call was overturned or upheld when replays appear inconclusive (or conclusive the other way).
The 2022 MLB season will begin Thursday, April 7. A full 162-game schedule will be played despite the owners' lockout delaying Opening Day one week.