FORT MYERS, Fla. (CBSLA.com/AP) — Standing at first base, Chris Rahl realized he was probably destined to become the answer to a trivia question.
“It’s kind of funny. I was thinking, ‘Is this the first one?'” the Minnesota runner said Monday.
Indeed it was, the first call to be reviewed under Major League Baseball’s expanded replay system.
MLB has expanded replay this year beyond potential home runs and boundary calls. This season, most every play except for balls-and-strikes is subject to a review, with calls coming from a replay booth in New York.
For this Toronto-Twins spring training game, the replay booth was a satellite truck outside the ballpark. The umpires rotated between the field and booth, becoming familiar with the system.
In the sixth inning, Toronto manager John Gibbons used his challenge. He asked umpires for a review after Rahl was called safe when shortstop Munenori Kawasaki’s throw pulled Jared Goedert off the first base bag.
First base umpire Fieldin Culbreth said Gibbons told him: “I’m not too sure that you’re not right here, but since we haven’t done it before, let’s go take a look.”
Culbreth responded: “OK. That’s what it’s for.”
The umpires gathered in front of the first base dugout while umpire Brian O’Nora watched the replays. After a wait of 2 minutes, 34 seconds, first base umpire Fieldin Culbreth spread his hands in the safe sign.
In the eighth inning, Doug Bernier of the Twins was called safe at first. As Culbreth studied the replay from the truck, the ballpark sound system played a Rolling Stones song with the familiar lyric, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
The call was confirmed in about 2½ minutes, Bernier was safe.
“I was standing on first wondering was it a hit or not,” he said. “I felt I was safe, felt that I had beat it out.”
“They got the calls right. That’s what’s important. I didn’t think it slowed down the game,” he said.
MLB used the expanded replay system at three games on Monday, two of them in Arizona. There was one challenge in those games, and the umpire’s call was upheld. Each team will get at least five games in spring training to test the system.
The league has faced criticism over recent years with umpires botching calls in important games.
In 2010, first base umpire Jim Joyce called runner Jason Donald safe at first, when he was clearly out, as replays heavily revealed. The call denied Armando Galarraga’s entry into the record books as baseballs’ 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game.
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