Thursday, January 16, 2014

Expanded replay approved, to begin this season

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Expanded instant replay became a reality for the upcoming season Thursday when the proposal was unanimously approved at the quarterly Owners Meetings. The Major League Baseball Players Association and World Umpires Association also signed off on the plan.

"This is really big," Commissioner Bud Selig said after making the announcement. "I'm proud of the changes we've made and I'll tell you why I'm proud of them: because they won't disturb the game as we know it. Yes, there will be some differences. But because of [MLB Advanced Media], because of our own technology, because of everything else, we've been able to do this."

Asked where this ranks in terms of accomplishments during his tenure, he responded: "It ranks very, very high."

A proposal to ban home-plate collisions was not voted on, but MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred said he was confident that, too, will be in place by Opening Day.

The highlights of the new replay system are as follows:
  • Each manager will be permitted one challenge in a game. If the challenge is upheld in any portion, he will retain the right to challenge one more play. A manager will not be allowed to challenge more than two plays in a game.
  • If a manager has exhausted his challenges, the umpiring crew chief may initiate a review on any close play from the seventh inning forward. 
  • All reviews will be conducted at the Replay Command Center at MLBAM headquarters in New York. Two additional four-man umpiring crews will be hired and umpires will be rotated through New York to review video feeds. Every ballpark will have a designated communication location near home plate. 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. The decision of the replay official in New York will be final.
  • Approximately 90 percent of all plays will be subject to review, including calls involving home runs, ground-rule doubles, fan interference, boundary calls, force plays, tag plays, fair-foul and trap plays in the outfield, hit by pitches, timing plays, touching bases, passing runners and any dispute involving ball-strike counts, outs, score or substitutions. All other plays, including obstruction and force plays at second base, will not be reviewable. 
  • Teams will now be allowed to show all replays on the in-park video board, regardless of whether the play was reviewed.
  • To initiate a review, a manager will verbally inform the umpires of his intention in a timely manner. The challenge may involve multiple portions of the same play, but each must be specified during the appeal. 
  • Teams will be allowed to have a club employee monitor video and communicate with the manager in deciding whether or not to challenge a call. Both the home and road teams must have equal access to all video, but no additional electronic equipment will be allowed in the dugouts.
  • The changes to instant replay will first be utilized during Spring Training. Clubs will also be allowed to show all replays on the ballpark scoreboard regardless of whether a play has been reviewed. 
  • 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:

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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