Major League Baseball on Thursday approved and will implement a vast expansion of instant replay for this season. The plan includes a limited number of manager challenges and gives umpires the latitude to seek reviews of late-game plays. Also, teams can now show replays of all plays — even controversial ones — to fans at stadiums.
The expansion, agreed upon by the players and umpires unions, is expected to be tweaked in coming seasons.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he liked the concept and applauded the move.
"I'm looking forward to our game taking this significant step in a technological direction,'' he said. "I'm impressed with the efforts (of commissioner Bud Selig and all involved) in hammering this first step in place. Not an easy task.
"Now it's time to understand how this all interconnects and get used to implementation. I expect some glitches, which shall be confronted and fixed. Patience and cooperation will move our game forward.''
How many challenges will each team get?
A manager will have one challenge to start. If he uses it and any portion of the challenged play is overturned, he gets to retain the right to challenge another play, so a manager has a maximum of two challenges per game. However, if a manager is out of challenges and it's the seventh inning or later, the umpiring crew chief can ask for a replay on a reviewable call.
How does a manager ask for a replay?
No red flags! He verbally informs the crew chief — in a "timely manner" — that he wants a play reviewed. Multiple portions of the same play may be reviewed, but the manager must specify what portions he is challenging. The crew chief will signal the official scorer that the play is under review. In deciding whether to challenge, dugout personnel will be allowed to communicate by phone with a video specialist in the clubhouse who has access to the video feeds.
What type of plays can be reviewed?
Home runs, ground-rule doubles, fan interference, stadium-boundary calls, force play (except for fielder's touching of second base on a double play, also known as the "neighborhood 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 an appeal), passing runners and record-keeping (ball-strike count to a batter, number of outs, score and substitutions).
Who makes the final call?
Major-league umpires, operating from the Replay Command Center in New York, will review video feeds, then decide whether to overturn a call based on "clear and convincing evidence." There will be a "designated communication location" at each park, from which the crew chief and at least one other umpire will access a headset connected to the center.
Will replay officials just use video from the TV broadcast?
No. Replay officials will have access to video from most cameras in the ballpark, regardless of whether it has been shown on the live broadcast.
Will the on-field umpires have any input?
No. Umpires on the field will not have a monitor to review the play and will not leave the field at any time. If a play is overturned, the replay official determines where to place baserunners based on where they would be if the play had been called correctly. Managers, coaches and players may not argue with the replay official's decision.
When does it start?
The new replay system will be in effect for the upcoming season and postseason. The league will experiment with it during some televised spring training games.
Clubs will now have the right to show replays of all close plays on their ballpark scoreboard, regardless of whether the play is reviewed.