Williams curious about MLB's new challenge system

Williams curious about MLB's new challenge system
February 19, 2014, 6:00 pm
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VIERA, Fla. — Though final details have yet to be revealed by Major League Baseball, Matt Williams is curious to see how the sport’s new replay system will be utilized, with the Nationals manager expecting to be able to consult via phone with another team employee who will watch games on television and help decide whether to challenge a missed call or not.

“We’ll have the ability, both home and road, to have a direct line to the dugout and be able to evaluate a play, look at it and have somebody let us know what their thoughts are,” Williams said Wednesday. “Every team will have that. It’s a question of who that is.”

For the first time this season, MLB is letting managers challenge potential missed calls across a wide spectrum of plays, just about everything other than balls and strikes.

Final details will be announced later this spring, but the new rule allows each manager to challenge one call per game, with umpires in a command center in New York making the ultimate decision. If a call is overturned, the manager gets one more challenge. Additionally, the umpires themselves can seek a review on any unchallenged calls from the seventh inning on.

League officials will be traveling around to every spring training camp for seminars with teams on the particulars of the new system, and challenges will be allowed in some Grapefruit and Cactus league games that are televised.

Williams’ understanding is that all MLB dugouts will be equipped with a direct phone line to someone else in the organization, who will be watching on TV and make a recommendation, similar to how some NFL teams make challenge decisions.

“We’ll confirm that when we go [meet with league officials] and make sure that that is in fact the case,” Williams said. “But that’s what we’ve been informed so far, that we will have the ability to have somebody look at it and evaluate whether we want to challenge or not.”

As a first-time manager, Williams has plenty to learn. But he views the new challenge system as something of an advantage for him.

“I look at it this way: I’m not the only rookie this year in that regard,” he said. “There’s guys that have managed a long time. They’re in the same boat I am now.”