"The umpires are allowing us to face our own dugout when we are discussing the play with them," Farrell said. "The umpires are working with us on this." That guy in the replay booth is now a very important person. The Orioles have hired a former umpire to be their review room guy, thinking that he might be more knowledgeable about the process than anyone else, including a former player. The Orioles' instant replay guy, for consistency purposes, will work both home and road games.
What are the potential kinks in the system?
There could be many, depending how things go this first year. Surely, some tricky situations will arise, situations that no one has even considered. But the toughest call for umpires might be the placing of runners after a call is challenged, then reversed. MLB has installed overhead cameras in each ballpark to track where the runners are, and should be.
"Replay is going to work, but we have to simplify the process as much as we can," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "When you open Pandora's box like we are doing, it gets more complicated. There are so many moving parts now. To me, when there's a double down the right-field line, and it's unclear, fair or foul, a call is made, then reversed, it should be two bases for the hitter, two bases for the runner, instead of relying on an overhead camera to place the runners. Same thing on an out/safe call at first: one more base advanced, that's it. To make it work, we have to nail it, simplify it, then add on from there."
Will there still be manager-umpire confrontations?
"Oh yes," said former manager Jim Leyland, who like La Russa served as part of the committee on expanded replay. There will be arguments over whether the replay process was handled correctly. There will be arguments if a manager is out of challenges and wants a play reviewed. There will arguments if an umpire is unwilling to review a play from the seventh inning on. But clearly, said Farrell, "there are going to be fewer arguments."
Why is Rule 7.13 on home-plate collisions an "experimental" rule?
It is a work in progress. It will be tweaked this year or next, however long it takes to get it right. "I've asked three different umpires about the new rules, and I've gotten three different answers on how they interpret it," one AL catcher said. "It's like MLB wanted this so badly for this season, they didn't think everything through. We will see how it goes."
Are catchers mostly in favor of the new rule?
Yes. "I understand where they are coming from, trying to protect a catcher who is looking the other way. Catchers are so vulnerable," Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "But we've been playing the game this way for 100 years. We'll see how it works. They are trying to protect the catcher, but are they looking out for the baserunner also? I don't know exactly how all this is going to work. It is going to be controversial."
Can a runner collide with a catcher, score, and be called safe?