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closed circuit camerasYesterday, MLB’s owners unanimously approved a dramatically expanded instant replay system, which means that the new rules will take effect in time for the 2014 season.

Via press release, MLB revealed the particulars of the new system. Before the seventh inning, replays must be initiated by a manager’s challenge (except for home run calls, which remain reviewable at all times). If a manager’s first challenge is successful, he gets a second challenge – but that’s it. So, one wrong challenge, and you’re done. Two challenges maximum, in any case. Beginning in the seventh inning, the crew chief may initiate an instant replay review.

During a review, the crew chief and one other umpire will connect with the “Replay Command Center” in New York to receive a final determination on the play from the replay official there.

Umpires, you’ll note, are still permitted to do the old school “meet together in the infield, talk about a play, and try and get it right the first time” thing.

Teams will now be permitted to show replays of close plays – ever notice how they hadn’t before? – on in-stadium scoreboards. You know, if your team has a video scoreboard …

The plays that are now reviewable:

  • Home run
  • Ground rule double
  • Fan interference
  • Stadium boundary calls (e.g., fielder into stands, ball into stands triggering dead ball)
  • Force play (except the fielder’s touching of second base on a double play)
  • Tag play (including steals and pickoffs)
  • Fair/foul in outfield only
  • Trap play in outfield only
  • Batter hit by pitch
  • Timing play (whether a runner scores before a third out)
  • Touching a base (requires appeal)
  • Passing runners
  • Record keeping (Ball-strike count to a batter, outs, score, and substitutions)

Note there, under force play, that the “neighborhood” play at second base is not reviewable. I guess the unwritten rule won out in those discussions. (And, as lame as it is, if that was a reviewable play, there would be at least one in every single game, and probably at least one overturned in every game, too. Does anyone really want that?)

  • BlameHendry

    I love this, except for the lack of the “neighborhood” play at second base not being on the list. If there really would be one overturned almost every game, that’s all the more reason to include. Hopefully they add it in the coming years. Also glad they’re limiting it to 2 appeals, but you should get the 2nd appeal regardless of whether the 1st one was right or wrong.

    • hansman

      Eh, it’s a safety thing.

  • BenRoethig

    I agree with it for determining home runs, but the umps blowing calls is a major art of the game.

    • BenRoethig

      err part

  • Jim

    This is kind of huge. So many managers will use this as gamesmanship.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Paul (Chicago): You’re an admitted “ceiling” #slut, so does that mean Baez is the #2 prospect in the game right now?

    Jason Parks: He’s number four on my list, behind Buxton, Bogaerts, and Taveras.

    So there you go…

    • Kyle

      I’m glad I could persuade him.

  • Fastball

    what about the zip code coverage of the bag on double plays? If they start enforcing that and it’s reviewable every double play will be overturned

  • Isaac

    Good grief, I hate the “neighborhood” call….and I dislike even more that Larussa lead this group. He’s proven time and again he has no regard for rules.

    • Voice of Reason

      Yet he just won everywhere he managed.

      • roz

        …which in no way refutes Isaac’s criticism of LaRussa.

        • Isaac

          *led, or lead….about the same in Larussa’s case.

          Couldn’t the argument be made that he built his career around supporting cheating (PED’s)?

  • WGNstatic

    My biggest gripe is with the cap at 2 challenges, regardless of whether you are right or wrong.

    I would say you get one incorrect challenge in a game, then you are done.

    Jason Stark has a good piece on this over at ESPN, I read that LaRussa and Torre basically pitched this as equivalent to using a pinch hitter, which is just stupid.

    I can imagine the uproar that will come when a team loses a game on an unchallengeable play after they had successfully challenged two previous plays. I just don’t get any logical argument for why the third time an ump blows a call against a team that it should stand.

    • Oregon Cubs Fan

      Chances are that the third blown call occurs in the 7th inning or later in which case the umpires can call for a challenge. Though it is not a perfect system, it allows for correction of an incorrect call when made and is much better than what we have now.

  • Oregon Cubs Fan

    Perhaps along with this rule, managers should be prohibited to come out of the dugout to argue a call (unless challenging). That would keep the game moving.

  • Don Eaddy

    It will be interesting to see who is the first manager to challenge a call. That will be a trivia answer to remember

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