July 6, 2022

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Meet the mind inside D-backs' replay booth

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This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert’s D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHOENIX — If you’re a regular listener to D-backs television broadcasts, you’ve likely heard Allen Campbell’s name mentioned when there’s a shot of Arizona’s bench coach on the dugout phone following a close play.

“He’s on the phone with Allen Campbell back in the D-backs clubhouse to find out if they should challenge this play,” play-by-play man Steve Berthiaume will say.

Campbell’s official title is Major League video coordinator, which involves the video logging of every at-bat during a game for later review by players. But he’s also the person tasked with letting manager Torey Lovullo know whether a call on the field should be challenged.

We caught up with Campbell recently to get a feel for what his job is really like:

Where are you located during games?

Typically it’s in the clubhouse or stationed in the video room or anywhere that the [television] feed is coming into the clubhouse. It’s fired up about an hour before the game.

What does your setup look like? Do you have more than one monitor to work with?

I’ve got three monitors and I’ve got every angle that’s being broadcast out on the field. So I’ve got around 15 angles coming in. We can set that up any way we want to. I can have one with all the angles and then one with an angle I want to look at real closely. I can manipulate that however I want. I can make more than one angle go into that screen, I can make a quad box out of it. A lot of different ways to do it.

So you have to make sure you have the best angle?

That’s the challenging part — identifying which angle of the 15 or which angles of the 15 are going to give me my best chance to make the right call. So it’s quickly identifying, “OK, these are the ones that are going to show that particular play from that angle. Let’s look at those.” And then I have the ability to frame by frame, zoom in, fast forward and rewind so I’ve got a lot of control. Over time you figure out which angles are typically going to be best to look at for a particular play.

A lot of control, a lot of angles, but not a lot of time?

That’s the thing, I have 20 seconds to give the manager as much information as possible. It’s quick and it’s a rush, but it’s fun. Like it gets you sort of down there in every play and the pressure that comes with that I think is the most interesting aspect of it, right? I think that’s what really gets me going for sure.

I was going to say, that sounds like a lot of pressure.

Yes and no. Pressure in the sense of I want to make sure I do a good job for our club and for the manager. I don’t ever want to put my manager in a bad spot. But at the end of the day, he’s going to be the one to make the call. So I’m going to give him the best information that I can. I’m going to tell him what I see and then it’s going to be up to him. He makes the ultimate decision.

Do you study other plays around baseball that get challenged?

We get an email every morning that shows us all the plays that were challenged and it gives MLB’s response to what they saw and what the ultimate outcome was. So I read that every morning and I check the plays that for me look interesting to me and see what got overturned and why. It’s just a matter of building a knowledge base to what usually gets overturned and what doesn’t.

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