Taking a break from trade rumors and free-agent news for a moment, MLB announced on Wednesday that it will be implementing a new replay system for the upcoming season.
Expansion of the current replay system was unanimously approved by all 30 MLB teams, according to MLB.com. Both the Major League Baseball Players Association and World Umpires Association gave their consent to the changes as well, so it's full speed ahead for 2014.
What follows is a look at everything you need to know about the new MLB replay system, as we push ever closer to the start of spring training.
According to an article from MLB.com, the following play types will be reviewable under the new replay system.
- 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)
Looking over that list, nothing stands out as a notable exclusion. The batter being hit by a pitch inclusion is an interesting one, as that has to be one of the hardest calls for an umpire to make, and often batters can play up an inside pitch to earn their way to first base.
Managers who challenge a play and have any aspect of it overturned will receive a second challenge according to the new rules.
However, they will not be allowed to challenge more than two plays in a game, regardless of whether or not they get both challenges correct. That's according to a tweet from MLB.
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.
Some could argue that teams should continue to get another challenge as long as they are correct, but one of the biggest concerns with the new replay system is that it will slow down the game. Limiting each team to a maximum of two challenges could help prevent that.
Under the previous replay system, home run calls were among the aspects of the game umpires could review.
The new system keeps home run calls under the discretion of the crew chief. While a manager may ask the umpire to review a home run, it is not something that can officially be challenged, according to a tweet from MLB.
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.
This rule allows managers to save challenges for other reviewable plays.
In the NFL, reviews on plays during the final two minutes of the first half and final two minutes of the fourth quarter are controlled by the booth upstairs as opposed to challenges from the coaches.
Similarly, MLB will allow the umpiring crew to review any call they see fit from the beginning of the seventh inning on, according to a tweet from Major League Baseball.
This will help ensure that potential game-changing calls late in games get called correctly, regardless of whether or not a manager challenged plays earlier.
Unlike in the NFL, plays will not be reviewed by the on-field umpires, but instead by a replay official at the Replay Command Center located in New York.
MLB umpires fill the role of replay official at the command center and will have access to video from cameras all over the park, regardless of whether the video was shown live.
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 decision will then be relayed to the crew chief via a hard-wired headset that connects the stadium to the command center in New York. On-field umpires will not actually be shown any video or even leave the field for that matter, according to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports. They will simply be told the decision via headset.
As MLB stadiums have upgraded across the league, almost every team has a jumbo video screen somewhere in its outfield these days.
Those will serve a new purpose with the replay rules in place, as teams will be allowed to show all replays on the their scoreboard, per ESPN.com's Adam Rubin
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.
That should make it easy for teams to decide whether or not to challenge a play. While that may seem like an unfair advantage, with the overall goal being to get the call right, it makes sense.
While the scoreboard may give managers an opportunity to see a replay before they decide to challenge, they won't have any additional video to turn to in the dugout.
However, there will be a video specialist stationed in the clubhouse who will have access to the same video the replay official at the Replay Command Center has, according to MLB.com.
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.
Communication with the video specialist will be done through the dugout phone, so David Ortiz may want to think twice before taking a bat to it again.
Fans will get a chance to see the new system in action this spring. It will get a test drive during a handful of televised spring training games, according to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports.
This should give the league a chance to iron out any remaining issues before Opening Day and give managers and umpires a chance to get accustomed to the system before the games start to count.
After a season that had more than its fair share of questionable calls, this seemed like an inevitable move. Hopefully this will help eliminate some unnecessary controversy moving forward.