Yesterday, 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?)