MLB Umpires to Explain Replay Review Decisions Via Microphone for 2020 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2020

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29:  Umpires Sam Holbrook #34 and Gary Cederstrom #38 discuss the runner interference call on Trea Turner (not pictured) of the Washington Nationals on headset during the seventh inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Umpires in MLB will begin communicating the decisions for video reviews to fans by microphone during the 2020 season, according to ESPN's Pedro Gomez.

Gomez added umpires "may also explain rules, if necessary."

MLB's Replay Operations Center is tasked with conducting the reviews and relaying the decisions to umpires on the field. Allowing an umpire to explain the outcome—much like an NFL referee—should provide a level of transparency for fans.

Having said that, the change is unlikely to eliminate the controversy that can grow from contentious calls on the field.

Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner was called out for interference when a throw to first base hit him in Game 6 of the 2019 World Series.

The call was upheld upon review, and MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre spoke with reporters about the situation after the contest.

If anything, Torre's explanation might have done more harm than good because he laid out how interference isn't reviewable because it constitutes a "judgment call." That type of rule can be hard to understand even for more seasoned fans.

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But using on-field microphones could help to mitigate any confusion on calls that are more black and white. Not every replay is as difficult to unpack as Turner's interference.

This continues the trend of umpires relying on technology for their jobs. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported in December that MLB and the umpires union reached an agreement that opened the door for an automated strike zone in the majors at some point down the road.

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