Thursday, March 27, 2014

MLB unveils ROC — its state-of-the-art replay center (PHOTOS)

Beginning with the Dodgers-Padres game at Petco Park on Sunday night — the U.S. opener of the 2014 season — players, managers and fans will start hearing a lot more of the ROC — technically known as Major League Baseball's Replay Operations Center.

The 900-square foot high-tech room in the Chelsea Market building in Manhattan's trendy Meatpacking District, is where umpires and technicians will make the decisions that could decide games and championships.

More than $10 million has been spent wiring the 30 big league ballparks with Fiberlink cable that will transmit the images from at least 12 cameras at every site, and MLB says it will take just 400 milliseconds for each image to arrive at the command center.

The ROC is housed in the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media in the historic building where the Oreo cookie was invented.

It's been called a technological marvel, outfitted with state-of-the-art video equipment. And it's the nerve center of MLB's expanded replay system. ROC will be manned by eight umpires from the existing pool of on-field arbitrators. Each umpire will have a technical assistant to run disputed plays from angles gleaned by 12 cameras at each ballpark.

Beginning Sunday, every play of every game this season that is subject to review will be analyzed in this room by at least one umpire and one trained technician. Whenever a manager formally challenges a call, or after the sixth inning, if the umpires on the field simply want a second opinion, this is where the ultimate decisions will be made.

Managers will have one challenge per game, and a second if the first is successful. They will not be able to challenge home run calls, the original impetus for the replay that started in 2008. Only game umpires can ask for replays on homers.

So if Don Mattingly disagrees with a ROC ump's call, he'll have to travel 2,760 miles to kick dirt on their khakis.

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