Beginning with the 2014 season, Major League Baseball expanded its replay system to include a potential review of just about every type of play, as opposed to simply examining fair or foul calls for home runs, which was the previous system in place since 2008.
While the expansion of replay has generally speaking improved the end-result of calls made throughout games, an adverse effect has been the time needed to review plays. It’s not an issue independent to MLB, though its process tends to be the most prolonged among professional sports leagues.
That’s particularly troublesome when considering MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s desire to improve pace of play in effort to capture a wider audience of fans.
With that, Manfred is hopeful to put a time limit on how long managers can decide whether they wish to challenge a call, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN:
Sources told ESPN that MLB wants a 30-second time limit for managers to decide whether or not to challenge an umpire’s call and is currently discussing that limit, along with other possible changes to replay, with both the players’ and umpires’ unions.
While that would help speed up the replay process, it is ultimately the actual review that takes the most time. MLB is also looking into a way to shorten that:
MLB also has talked with the umpires’ union about whether it’s possible for umpires in the replay center to make quicker rulings. They’ve discussed a “guideline” of two minutes unless there are extenuating circumstances, sources said.
Under that guideline, umpires would be encouraged to allow calls on the field to stand if they haven’t seen clear evidence that would merit changing the call after two minutes.
There have been other pace of play rules suggested, such as shrinking the strike zone and eliminating the need to throw four balls for an intentional walk. Any changes would need to be approved by the Players’ union in order to ratify the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
One new rule that’s to be implemented in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Arizona League this summer is automatically placing a runner on second base with nobody out at the start of extra innings. It received plenty of backlash, and Manfred recently said there is not an expectation it will be implemented on the Major League level.