MLB Expands Instant Replay

Baseball will be more accurate, less subjective and played at an even slower pace in 2014.

On Thursday, the MLB announced that all 30 teams had voted unanimously to expand instant replay in baseball. The news came at the close of the quarterly owners meeting for the MLB. According to an press release, both the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association had agreed to expand the rules in the sport.

Commissioner Bud Selig said the change in the system, “will give managers valuable recourse in potentially game-changing situations. The opportunity for our fans to see more replays in our ballparks is also an important modification that the clubs and I favored.”

So what’s different? How often will coaches come out and argue to their counterpart, only to inevitably walk back disappointed? I mean, that is what we all paid to see in a baseball game anyway. There was not anything better than watching your home team’s manager hobble onto the field, knowing full well of the zero percent chance he could get the play overturned. There is new life for the managers when they reach the umpire at home plate starting in 2014.

First, it is important to remember there is a fine line between ‘review,’ and ‘challengeable.’ Managers under the new rule system get one challenge throughout the entire game. If their challenge is successful, they are awarded a second. Managers are not allowed to use their challenge on more than two plays throughout the entire game.

Simple enough. It’s a more simplified version of the NFL’s challenge rules. Managers can challenge plays. Umpires can review them. Starting in the seventh inning or later, umpires can congregate and discuss whether they want to review a close play for the sake of accuracy. It can be done for any of the plays listed below, and can also be done as many times as necessary to get the calls correct. The managers can still challenge plays, but after the seventh inning, it may prove to be obsolete.

Short answer: Managers’ challenges in innings 1-6, while umpires’ reviews in inning 7-9.

Home runs are a tricky mistress. There was already a (mostly) functional replay system for reviewing a home run ball in 2013. Officially, home run calls cannot be challenged by managers. Managers may request that the umpires review the home run call. This can be done at any time during the game.

For even more fun at the baseball field (and that may cause some rifts in the replay system) all baseball fields can show the replay of the call in question on their electronic Jumbotrons.

All of these big changes are being implemented into the stadiums and are intended to be ready to work beginning Opening Day.

For a more extended breakdown of the implementation of the rules, check out this tweet by the MLB PR team:

Somewhere, Armando Galarraga is smiling. Hopefully, the rest of the baseball community will follow suit at the end of the year.

Richie Cozzolino is the host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports.