New York — In addition to “Play ball!” and “Yer Out!”, big league umpires will be heard saying “Overturned!” and “Upheld!” for the first time this season.
Major League Baseball said Friday that umpires will conduct in-park announcements during the replay reviews this season. The decision was delayed two seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We discussed the possibility of doing this with the umpires during their most recent CBA negotiation,” MLB executive vice president Morgan Sword said, “and then COVID got in the way our planning. We finally were able this year to give them the appropriate training and get everybody ready for opening day.”
A crew chief will have a wireless microphone and first announce the call being challenged and which team initiated the challenge. After the review, the crew chief will announce the result.
Audio will go over ballpark public-address systems and be made available to broadcasters.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “I think the fans deserve that explanation. I played baseball in Japan for a year and I felt like it was awkward at first, when the umpires would go over and explain every ruling, the reason for every ejection, whatever it was, just to let the fans know. But I got used to it and I think the fans appreciated it.”
MLB was the last major pro sport in North America to institute replay when it began late in the 2008 season for home run calls. Video reviews were vastly expanded for the 2014 season.
Until now, umpires had revealed their decisions such as safe and out with hand signals.
Of 1,305 calls challenged by clubs last year, 655 calls were overturned (50.2%), 221 were confirmed (16.9%) and 429 were allowed to stand (32.9%) when there was insufficient evidence to overturn or confirm. There were 159 additional crew chief reviews initiated by an umpire.
NFL referees were given wireless microphones in 1975 to explain penalty decisions. The NFL had an initial replay system from 1986-91, abandoned it, then reinstalled it for the 1999 season. The NHL added a replay system in 1991 and the NBA in 2002.