How MLB Replay Review Will Work

Getty Images

Major League Baseball has set down the official rules and procedures for replay review.

Here, via press release from Major League Baseball, are the official rules and procedures that will be in effect for the 2014 season for replay review.

Managers will have at least one challenge to use. If any portion of a challenged play is overturned, then the manager who challenged the play will retain the ability to challenge one more play during the game. No manager may challenge more than two plays in a game. Once the manager has exhausted his ability to challenge plays during the game and after the beginning of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may choose to invoke instant replay on any reviewable call.  Home run and other boundary calls will remain reviewable under the procedures in place last season.

A designated communication location near home plate will be established at all 30 MLB ballparks.  There, the Crew Chief and at least one other Major League Umpire will have access to a hard-wired headset connected to the Replay Command Center, which will remain at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York. Major League Umpires will be staffed as Replay Officials at the Replay Command Center. After viewing video feeds, the Replay Official will make the ultimate determination of whether to overturn the call, based on the continuing standard of whether there is clear and convincing evidence.

Instant replay will be utilized during some televised games in Spring Training for the purposes of educating on-field personnel on the rules of the new system.

Other protocols of the new system for instant replay are as follows:

PLAY TYPES

The following play types will be subject to review:

·       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)


All other plays will not be reviewable; however, the Umpires may still convene on the field at any time to discuss the play.

INITIATION OF INSTANT REPLAY

·         Field managers may initiate replay review on one reviewable play per game by verbally indicating his intention to challenge, in a timely manner, to the Crew Chief. Guidelines will be established to determine whether a challenge is timely. 

·         The manager may request that the umpire review multiple portions of the same play, but he must specify exactly which portions of the play he is challenging. 

·         If any portion of a challenged play is overturned, the manager who challenged the play will retain the ability to challenge one more play during the game. No manager may challenge more than two plays in a game.

·         Once the manager has exhausted his ability to challenge plays during the game and after the beginning of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may choose to invoke instant replay on any reviewable call. In that circumstance, the Crew Chief is not obligated to invoke instant replay if requested by the manager.

·         Home run calls that are currently subject to instant replay review will continue to be reviewed at the Crew Chief’s discretion. Managers may request that an Umpire review a home run call, but managers cannot challenge home run calls.


REVIEW PROCESS

·         Once instant replay review is invoked (either by the Manager or the Crew Chief), the Crew Chief will signal to the official scorer that the play is under review.

·         The Crew Chief and at least one other umpire will then move to a designated communication location near home plate, where they will have access to a hard-wired headset connected to the Replay Command Center in New York. 

·         Major League Umpires will be staffed as Replay Officials at the Replay Command Center, located at MLB Advanced Media headquarters, for all Major League games.

·         The Replay Command Center will have direct access to video from most cameras in the ballpark in real-time, regardless of whether they are shown on the live broadcast. 

·         The Replay Official will look at the video feeds and determine if there is clear and convincing evidence to overturn the call on the field. If the Replay Official overturns a call on the field, he will also use his judgment to determine where to appropriately place runners if the play had been called correctly on the field.

·         The umpires on the field will not have a monitor to review the play and they will not leave the field at any time.

·         The Replay Official will make the ultimate determination of whether to overturn the call.

·         On-Field personnel may not argue with the decision of the Replay Official.


CLUB ACCESS TO VIDEO

·         To determine whether to challenge a play, personnel in the dugout will be permitted to communicate with a video specialist in the Clubhouse who has access to the same video that is available to Replay Officials. This communication will occur via the dugout phone. 

·         Both the home and visiting Clubs will have standardized technology to ensure each Club has equal access to all video.

·         No monitors or additional electronic equipment will be permitted in the dugout. 


SCOREBOARD REPLAYS

·         Clubs will now have the right to show replays of all close plays on its ballpark scoreboard, regardless of whether the play is reviewed.

That's a lot to get through; I assume you'll have many comments. Wrigley Field doesn't have a Jumbotron -- yet -- but that last point could wind up being a real point of contention among umpires, who don't want to be shown up. Fortunately, bad calls can now be overturned, so maybe this won't be a bad thing.

It sounds like they've covered almost everything they could, and the system sounds like it'll work without any serious delays to games. You might remember the call made in the photo at the top of this post -- it's from the 2009 ALDS between the Twins and Yankees. Joe Mauer hit the ball which clearly landed fair, but was ruled foul by umpire Phil Cuzzi. If the play had been ruled correctly, Mauer would have had (at least) a double and would have scored on a subsequent single. Instead, he wound up stranded and the Yankees won the game and the series (and eventually the World Series that year). Who knows what might have happened if Mauer scores and the Twins win that game?

Hallelujah! As you know, this has been something I've been writing about and wanting MLB to do something about for years. I'm grateful that MLB is joining the other North American team sports in reviewing bad calls. We have the technology -- have, in fact, for many years. Thanks to MLB for finally using it.

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