Instant replay debuts at Tropicana Field
Umpires have no occasion to use new system on Friday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Instant replay made its Major League debut in 12 stadiums on Friday night, including the Rays' own Tropicana Field.
Friday night's umpiring crew of Sam Holbrook, Mark Wegener, Jeff Kellogg and Chad Fairchild had a little help available, but it didn't turn out to necessary, even though the Rays hit three homers in a 14-3 win over the Orioles.
"I was kind of for and against it," Rays player rep Evan Longoria said. "I listened in on the conference calls. I think it's going to be a good thing and a bad thing. I think it's going to be a good thing because it's going to get some calls right that are going to change games. But at the same time, it gives the umpires something to gripe about, and it kind of puts a chip on their shoulders as far as we don't think they're doing as good a job as they can."
At The Trop, the review will take place in the grounds crew room behind the visitors' dugout, which is equipped with a 19-inch flat screen T.V. and secure phone line. In the instances replay is needed, the crew chief will call an MLB.com technician in New York who will transmit the footage for review. Similar to the National Football League's policy, after a play has been reviewed, no other arguments will be allowed.
Under MLB's current rules, instant replay will only be used to determine whether balls are home runs -- whether the ball went over the wall (or hit behind the wall and came back), was fair or foul, was interfered with by a fan, and at The Trop, whether it hit one of the bottom two catwalks.
Rays manager Joe Maddon is a proponent of instant replay and agrees with its use for home runs and foul balls, as long as it doesn't spill over into other parts of the game. The skipper says he often has trouble tracking the balls' exact routes himself.
"I can't tell from the dugout," he said. "I've seen umpires run out and I know that they sincerely believe what they're seeing and they've been wrong. So I don't see anything wrong with the replay for that."
Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, agreed.
"With all the nuances in these new parks, it's extremely difficult to discern between a home run, or a ball that hits the top of the fence or that fans interfere with," he said. "Fans are much more on top of the field than they've ever been. It's an extremely difficult thing to ask umpires 150 feet away to be able to discern that."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.