PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- The way baseball games are governed on the field changed dramatically Thursday when expanded instant replay was unanimously approved at the quarterly Owners Meetings and the Major League Baseball Players Association and World Umpires Association also signed off.
Until now, video review was only allowed for boundary calls involving home runs and happened at the discretion of the umpires, who would leave the field to look at replays and then return to make their decision known.
Beginning this season, each manager will start a game with one challenge. If it is upheld, he retains his challenge but can never have more than two in a game. If the manager exhausts his challenges before the start of the seventh inning, he is out of luck, adding a new element of strategy to the game. Beginning in the top of the seventh, the crew chief is empowered to institute a review.
The on-site officials will not make the call, however. 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.
Another big change is that teams will be allowed to show replays, including those of disputed plays, on their in-park video boards.
The decision to limit the number of challenges was based partly on pace of game concerns and partly on the conviction that one should be more than sufficient.
Approximately 90 percent of all plays will be subject to review including calls involving home runs, ground-rule doubles, fan interference, boundary calls, plays at first base, force plays, tag plays, fair-foul and trap plays in the outfield, hit by pitch, timing plays, touching the base, passing runners and any dispute involving ball-strike counts, outs, score or substitutions. All other plays, including interference and obstruction, will not be reviewable.
To initiate a review, the manager will verbally inform the umpire 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.
Challenges must be made in a "timely manner" with discipline possible if the manager appears to be stalling.
Teams will be allowed to have a club employee monitoring video and communicating with the manager whether or not to challenge. Both the home and road teams must have equal access to all video, but no additional electronic equipment will be allowed. Camera angles in all parks will also be standardized.
Schuerholz has stressed from the beginning that this remains a work in progress that is likely to be further fine-tuned in the future.
--- Source: MLB.com