Once the manager has exhausted his ability to challenge plays during the game and after the beginning of the seventh inning, the crew chief may choose to invoke instant replay on any reviewable call. In that circumstance, the crew chief is not obligated to invoke instant replay if requested by the manager.
It's unclear whether the umps can themselves request a review prior to the seventh inning, or if they must wait for a manager to request it. That would seem to need some clarification (although maybe the assumption is that the umps would never do that on their own).
The key thing is that they are compelled to review a play as long as a manager has his challenge left and it's before the seventh inning. After that point, the umps are not compelled to do what the manager asks, but clearly the manager could still ask for a review, and it could still be granted. And the umps could make the call themselves (without a request) at that point.
Using the seventh inning as a cut-off point seems sort of arbitrary. I suppose the fear is that managers might use frivolous challenges to allow a reliever more time to warm up or something like that. But blown calls (or potentially blown calls) are just as likely in the ninth as any other time. And if the game is on the line, replay review is just as important then as ever.
And I wonder about extra-inning games. Shouldn't the challenges reset at some point?
Of course, what I don't like about these new rules is that the umps are ever forced to do something. It would make more sense to me if these late-inning rules were actually always the rules. But it's easy to see that the managers would object to taking away their right to force something. That's actually a small victory for the managers, who throughout the history of the game have never actually been able to force an ump to do anything.
In fact, that may be the defining element of this rule change. The dynamic between umps and managers is modified, to a degree yet to be determined (albeit probably pretty subtle).
Sadly, that little bit of control may actually reduce the number of times we get to see Gardy throw his hat and kick dirt and chew out an ump. I guess there will always be balls and strikes to argue over... (Somewhere, Lou Piniella is spinning in his grave. What? Still alive? OK, he'll be spinning in his chair in a broadcast booth somewhere.)
Two other things look interesting:
Clubs will now have the right to show replays of all close plays on its ballpark scoreboard, regardless of whether the play is reviewed.
This will surely be the greatest gain in the rule change for fans in the stands. It's long overdue, and I'm convinced that the only reason the old policy was ever adopted in the first place was as a face-saving measure for the umpires. I never bought the line that teams don't want to rile up the fans. We've always known that that's exactly what teams want to do.
The question remains whether they will show replays which will go against the home team. I hope they always show them.
No monitors or additional electronic equipment will be permitted in the dugout.
When, oh, when will MLB get over this? Technology really isn't the enemy. These are modern tools. Why forbid their use? It really makes no sense.
This rule change is, in itself, an admission that technology is now a friend of the game. It's time to let the managers and coaches watch the replays whenever and however they want to for decision-making. (It's probably fueled by fears about stealing signs or something crazy like that.)
But, no, instead we get this anachronism:
To determine whether to challenge a play, personnel in the dugout will be permitted to communicate with a video specialist in the clubhouse who has access to the same video that is available to replay officials. This communication will occur via the dugout phone.
"Yeah, Gardy, that guy was safe. Go challenge."
OK, it's an anachronism, but what a great gig. Hey, Dave St. Peter! I want this job!
"You talk about the magic, the aura, but what really makes a stadium is the fans. Concrete doesn't talk back to you. Chairs don't talk back to you. It's the people who are there, day in, day out, that makes the place magic."
– Bernie Williams
Explore the Site
Here are 50 images chosen randomly from the 3042 found on this site. Click the image to be taken to the original post. A new list is created every 10 minutes.
Nuts on Clark (a couple blocks north of Wrigley Field)
Seating mound (seen from the B ramp)
That's Tony Oliva checking out ballpark construction from the roof of Target Center.
This is amazingly close to completed. It's a short tunnel entrance ramp to 394 underneath the outfield stands.
In the top of the 9th, the sun hit our backs and summer took one last long look.
Click to enlarge
Dan Kenney, my tour guide
An alternate route into downtown. (Click to get an interactive map.)