So, here is a breakdown of the new instant replay system for the newbie baseball fan.
Please keep in mind that MLB wants this to be efficient so 2014 season is sort of a test run.
Why did MLB need to expand the use of instant replay?
Humans make mistakes.
Umpires are human, and sometimes they make bad calls.
And since the use of modern technology can cut these inaccuracies there is no reason not to make some use of this in baseball.
Hence, MLB has been under pressure to develop and expand the use of instant replay for some time now.
Until now instant replay in MLB consisted of umpires being able to check what they considered to be a questionable home run. This called for the game to stop, the umpiring crew to leave the field and re-watch the disputed homer before coming to a decision.
The expansion is hoping to eradicate controversial calls like when Jim Joyce’s obstruction call against Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks that ended Game 3 of the 2013 World Series. At least that is the goal.
I explained this specific call in Baseball Basics: Was that obstruction? but also watch the video of what happen below.
What are the official rules of this new instant replay?
This explanation of how the expanded instant replay will be implemented if from the official MLB press release from 01/16/2014. This is pretty straightforward and best coming straight from the horse’s mouth. Any questions?
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.
Other protocols of the new system for instant replay are as follows:
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.
- 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.
- Clubs will now have the right to show replays of all close plays on its ballpark scoreboard, regardless of whether the play is reviewed.
Will the expanded instant replay make games take even longer?
This is the more common concern I have heard, and not without good reason.
MLB games tend to drag on sometimes, as unlike the NFL, NBA and NHL there is no set time limit in baseball.
In my humble opinion, potentially adding more minutes to games could deter the average fan from baseball in general due to sheer boredom.
You might think that sounds ridiculous but MLB knows it cannot afford to lose fans at any cost so this system will get tweaked to make sure it only causes the smallest amount of disruption.
So consider this new expanded instant replay as a work in progress, but it is here to stay just needs to be perfected first.
And new protocols take time to learn, but MLB needs to stay on top of this one and not let it drag on like the Commissioner’s Office tends to do.