Major League Baseball will have a few tweaks to the replay system for the 2015 season, but the foundation will essentially stay the same. Managers will still be allowed one challenge, and if they win that challenge they have the right to challenge a second time. However, say goodbye to the slow, deliberate walks by managers, stalling for a decision to challenge a ruling on the field.
As stated in the recent New York Post article, challenges will remain the same except that managers will be able to signal from the dugout that they want to challenge the call on the field. MLB COO and commissioner-elect Rob Manfred said the time it takes to review a call is an area that needs to be addressed, as well as how to best use the technology available to MLB.
"I think the core of replay is going to be similar," Manfred said on Thursday. "I think the changes that we're contemplating are largely technology, cameras, things like that. There are some issues related to exactly how long it takes to get the replay going that we're looking at."
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus didn't get into the habit of strolling leisurely onto the field while waiting for the green light. He was fairly deliberate about it, but often when a challenged call was being reviewed, it would take upwards of three or four minutes.
It's still early though, and MLB has yet to nail down a definitive solution for every issue that arose in replay's first year of implementation. Challenges that were thought to be obvious safe or out calls resulted in the opposite for several teams throughout the season. The hope is that any adjustments made for 2015 will cut down on review time and make more accurate determinations on close plays. How any changes will affect the Tigers on any significant level won't be fully known until next season, when further adjustments are set in place.
As for the "Pace of Game" experiment that went on during the Arizona Fall League, there were mixed reactions by the managers, coaches, and players. Particularly, the 20-second clock that was used at Salt River Field at Talking Stick. Tigers pitching prospect Robbie Ray experienced the experiment in his first start when he violated the rule and was charged with a ball facing his first batter in his first AFL appearance.
Pitchers adjusted to the clocks, but overall, it wasn't warmly received. Pitchers said they felt rushed and the limitations on mound visitations were also met with mixed results. Every player has his own habits and a rhythm to how he plays the game, and some felt that was interrupted by the experimental rules.
Also of interest was the no-pitch intentional walk. While it saves time, it takes away the natural tendencies of the game. As an example, go back to the wild pitch during an attempted intentional walk that occurred during the 2014 season for the Tigers.
Detroit was playing the Indians at home on Sept. 14. With runners at second and third base in the eighth inning, Indians reliever C.C. Lee uncorked a wild pitch while attempting to intentionally walk Ian Kinsler. Holding a 5-3 lead, the Tigers added another run and went on to win the game 6-4 with the usual late dramatics. (MLB.com video)
Not all reports were bad, however. Rules that require batters to keep one foot in the batter's box, with exceptions such as a foul ball or tip, or time being granted to either the pitcher or batter, helped aid the speed of the game. Also, a 2:05 minute limit between innings forced teams back onto the field sooner.
MLB's committee on the new rules will continue to look at the results, but no decisions have, or will be made yet within the next 30-60 days. Even then, any changes must be collectively approved by the players. For now, the experimental pace-of-play is just that ... experimental.