Instant replay is on: it has been approved by the owners, MLBPA and umpires

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Gentlemen, start your DVRs. Or whatever it is you’re going to use. MLB owners, umpires and the MLBPA have approved instant replay. This thing is happening.

As reported back in November, the system will be triggered by manager challenges. Mangers will get two per game. Here’s is the MLB press release’s description of the system:

Managers will have at least one challenge to use.  If any portion of a challenged play is overturned, then the manager who challenged the play will retain the ability to challenge one more play during the game.  No manager may challenge more than two plays in a game.  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.  Home run and other boundary calls will remain reviewable under the procedures in place last season.

A designated communication location near home plate will be established at all 30 MLB ballparks.  There, the Crew Chief and at least one other Major League Umpire will have access to a hard-wired headset connected to the Replay Command Center, which will remain at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York.  Major League Umpires will be staffed as Replay Officials at the Replay Command Center.  After viewing video feeds, the Replay Official will make the ultimate determination of whether to overturn the call, based on the continuing standard of whether there is clear and convincing evidence.

While we have argued long and hard about how we’d prefer a different system — one which employs a fifth umpire or doesn’t otherwise shift the responsibility of getting correct calls from umpires to managers — it’s a moot point now. This is the system we have.

There will likely be kinks and inefficiencies at the outset, but as with any new system, many will be worked through over time. My discussions with MLB sources have also convinced me that MLB is going to keep an open mind about all of this and, rather than insist everything is fine even if it isn’t, will tweak and review the system in response to problems that are encountered. That may seem like an obvious approach to things, but it’s probably worth remembering that MLB hasn’t always been the quickest to acknowledge mistakes and implement changes.  Here’s hoping those assurances of quality control are carried through.

One bonus here: replays will now be shown on video boards inside the ballpark. That has rarely if ever been the case — people apparently thought it was rude to bring scrutiny on the umpires or something — but now the people in the park can see what everyone else in the world can see. I suppose that’s progress.

Report: Mike Trout as recognizable to Americans as NBA’s Kenneth Faried

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On Monday, the Washington Post cited Q Scores, a firm that measures consumer appeal of personalities, with regard to Angels outfielder Mike Trout. According to Q Scores, Trout is as recognized to Americans as NBA forward Kenneth Faried, who has spent seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets and is now a reserve with the Brooklyn Nets. Trout’s score was 22, which means just over one in five Americans know who he is.

We have talked here at various times about Trout’s lack of marketability. He has expressed zero interest in being marketed as the face of baseball. Additionally, based on the nature of the sport, it’s harder for baseball to aggressively market its stars since star players don’t impact teams the same way they do in other sports. LeBron James, for example, carries whatever team he’s on to the NBA Finals. James has appeared in the NBA Finals every year dating back to 2011. Trout, despite being far and away the best active player in baseball and one of the best players of all time, has only reached the postseason once, in 2014 when his Angels were swept in the ALDS by the Royals. Trout can’t carry his team to the playoffs and his team hasn’t helped him any in getting there on a regular basis.

Baseball is also more of a regional sport. Fans follow their local team, of course, and don’t really venture beyond that even though games are broadcast nationally throughout the week. The NFL schedule is much shorter and occurs once a week, so fans put aside time to watch not just their favorite team’s game, but other games of interest as well. A June game between the subpar White Sox and Tigers doesn’t have much appeal to it since it’s one of 162 games for both teams, and both teams will play again later in the season. Comparatively, a game between the Bears and Lions has more intrigue since they only play twice a year.

It’s kind of a shame for baseball that Trout isn’t bigger than he is because he is a once-in-a-generation talent, like Ken Griffey Jr. In fact, Trout is so good that he’s still underrated. He’s on pace to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, going by Wins Above Replacement. Despite that, he’s anything but a lock to win the MVP Award at season’s end because the narratives around other players, like Mookie Betts, are more compelling.

Trout’s marketability is an issue that isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon. Trout is who he is and forcing him to ham it up for the cameras would come off as forced and unnatural. Major League Baseball will simply have to hope its other stars, like Betts and Bryce Harper, can help broaden the appeal of the sport.