Replay in Major League Baseball is officially set to expand for the 2014 season after team owners unanimously approved the new system, which will increase a manager's ability to challenge questionable calls. The MLB Players Association and World Umpires Associations also signed off on the agreement.
The league confirmed the deal in a press release on its website. The release also contained MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's thoughts:
"I am very pleased that instant replay will expand to include additional impactful plays," Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "The new 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.
"I thank the Major League Players and Umpires for their cooperation with this change, which will serve our shared game well. I also extend my gratitude to John Schuerholz, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Peter Woodfork and Chris Marinak, all of whom worked extremely hard to make this highly complicated task a reality."
The league also clarified the challenge system under the new guidelines:
Managers will have at least one instant replay challenge to use during a game (1/3).— MLB (@MLB) January 16, 2014
If any portion of challenged play is overturned, manager who challenged the play will retain ability to challenge 1 more play in game (2/3).— MLB (@MLB) January 16, 2014
No manager may challenge more than two plays in a game (3/3).— MLB (@MLB) January 16, 2014
The league also passed along a list of plays that are reviewable under the new rules and how the system will work:
Full details on how the new instant replay process will work: pic.twitter.com/O8gYgBv0eH— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) January 16, 2014
The following play types will be subject to review: pic.twitter.com/TDYPQfm7tw— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) January 16, 2014
Morosi points out one play that will not be reviewable:
Development in replay talks: At request of MLBPA, source says "neighborhood play" at 2B on double plays likely will NOT be reviewable.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 16, 2014
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that this is a one-year deal:
MLBPA will "monitor closely" new instant replay system "before negotiating over its use in future seasons." Union sees this as 1-year trial.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) January 16, 2014
Although baseball has traditionally been slow to change it ways, allowing more replay reviews, which will lead to fewer missed calls impacting game outcomes, was a no-brainer.
Joe Torre, the league's executive vice president of baseball operations, said the operation is going to take some getting used to, especially for umpires stationed at the headquarters where the final decisions will be made, according to Paul Hagen of MLB.com:
The one thing I've learned ... is that you really need practice looking at the video, and I think that's something we're all aware of. The umpires are really going to have to be educated on this.
Fans and players will also be able to watch highlights of the plays in question on the stadium video boards (via Adam Rubin of ESPN):
Clubs can now show all replays on scoreboard in stadiums. ... Teams should know if they'll win challenge before doing so. Can look at video.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) January 16, 2014
Letting fans, and players on the field for that matter, see disputed calls is a major positive. When replays are hidden from fans at games, the league isn't being as transparent as it could be, which is contradictory to implementing reviews in the first place.
The new system should ensure the calls are made correctly and everybody can see it, making it easier to move past a perceived bad call.
What's your opinion of more replay in baseball?
The only foreseeable issue that will be watched closely is expanded replay taking too much time. Baseball doesn't want the pace of play to get any slower, which is likely a reason it limited teams to two apiece.
Otherwise, the unanimous agreement from all parties shows baseball knew it was time to follow in the footsteps of the other major pro sports leagues.