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MLB Umpires Might Get Microphones To Explain Replay Reviews

Imagine listening to Joe West on the ballpark PA system.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When major-league baseball umpires conduct a replay review, they conclude the review by giving a visual signal of how the play was judged by the reviewers. Safe, out, whatever the call is, just as umpires have signaled calls for decades.

That could change soon, according to the Associated Press:

While nothing is set, Major League Baseball and umps are expected to discuss a plan - most prominently used in the NFL - for crew chiefs to wear a microphone and explain replay rulings.

Under one possible scenario, they would start at the All-Star Game on July 11 in Miami, tweak the process over the season's second half and then go forward with the experiment in the playoffs.

There are some plays on which it would be quite useful to get an explanation, in particular interpretations on the sliding rule or the “lane” required to be given by catchers on plays at the plate.

In general, though, most reviews seem to be of the type where it’s either safe or out, or fair or foul, and do we really need an umpire to get on the ballpark public-address system and say “safe” or “out” when fans can clearly see an umpire give that signal?

At least one player says having an announcement would be a good idea:

"It probably would be nice to get a little more explanation," Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler said. "They're supposed to say the call stands or the call's confirmed. 'The call stands' means you can't tell. A lot of times we don't get that ... they just signal out or safe. That's all we get on the field.

"They may announce it on the PA, but it doesn't seem like that is consistent in all parks. And the acoustics in the stadium here - we have a hard time hearing what's on the PA in the bullpen," he said.

The Wrigley Field gameday production staff does a good job of showing fans the replays on the ballpark video boards and posting “Call Stands,” “Call Confirmed,” or “Call Overturned” once the decision is made.

Having an umpire make an announcement is certainly not going to reduce the length of reviews, which is something MLB is trying to do this year. Reviews are supposed to be limited to two minutes. Here’s one from Wrigley on Sunday [VIDEO] that did take about that amount of time. So did this one [VIDEO] earlier in the same game.

So maybe it wouldn’t take that much more time and it would give more clarity for fans, both in the ballpark and watching on TV. On the other hand, you might wind up with something like this:

That’s NFL referee Ben Dreith from a game back in 1986. Let’s hope Joe West doesn’t use the opportunity to have a microphone on to serenade crowds with some of his country songs.

Are you in favor of miking up MLB umpires?


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