Replay expansion gets approval

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

It’s finally here, folks. After years of debating whether baseball should utilize technological advancements to correct missed calls, all parties involved have agreed to expand Major League Baseball’s use of instant replay. There is no waiting, either, as implementation is planned for the 2014 season.

The necessary approval from the MLB Players Association, the World Umpires Association and the 30 team owners has been garnered. The owners voted unanimously on the expansion plan during their meetings on Thursday.

This will undoubtedly change the flow of games and will be an added responsibility for managers (and their video specialists… more on them later). Is it for good or bad? That’s something that individually will be determined over time. My feeling: Why wouldn’t baseball want to make every effort to get calls right? I think, too, that fears about replay slowing down games will be assuaged once we see the reduction in on-field arguments.

For more on these instant replay plans, I suggest you read this full release from MLB. If you’re too lazy to click, here are some highlights:

  • Reviewable plays include: home runs, ground-rule doubles, fan interference, stadium boundary calls, force play (not including at second base on double play turn), tag play, fair/foul (in outfield only), trap play (in outfield only), batter hit by pitch, timing play (whether runner scores before third out), touching a base, passing runners, record keeping (counts of balls/strikes, outs, score, substitutions).
  • Each manager may challenge one play in a game. Challenges must be made verbally and in a timely manner. If the call is overturned, the manager gets an opportunity for one more challenge later in the game. If the call stands, the club is out of challenges. Managers can not challenge more than twice in a game.
  • Beginning in the seventh inning, the umpires can invoke instant replay even if a manager does not challenge.
  • In instances of replay use, the crew chief and another umpire will go to a designated communications location and get in contact with replay officials (also Major League umpires) in the replay command center (located at MLB Advanced Media headquarters).
  • The replay official — not the on-field umpires — will determine if there is “clear and convincing evidence” to overturn the call. The on-field umpires will get the decision through a headset. They will not see video of the play.
  • Each club will be allowed to staff a video specialist in the clubhouse who will have access to the same video replays as the replay officials. This video specialist can communicate with the manager via the dugout phone.
  • Clubs are now allowed to show replays of any play/call on the video scoreboard, regardless whether that play is under review.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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