MLB Instant Replay rundown: Facts and gripes


Jul 23, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (right) disputes a call by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi (10) during the fifth inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at AT

Owners approved expanded instant replay on Thursday and with it created new ways to get angry with your manager. Oh joy!

In addition to the already reviewable home run, managers will be allowed one “challenge” prior to the 7th inning.  If the challenge is successful, the manager will retain it for use later in the game.  After the 7th inning, if a manager has used up all of his challenges, calls will be reviewable at umpire discretion only.

New challengeable plays, per

  • Ground-rule doubles
  • Fan interference (You need to stop doing this AT&T patrons)
  • Stadium boundary calls
  • Force plays (Except fielder’s touching of second on double plays. Why? who knows?)
  • Tag plays
  • Fair/foul in outfield only
  • Trap plays in outfield only
  • Batter hit by pitch
  • Timing plays
  • Touching a base (requires appeal)
  • Passing runners
  • Record keeping

Major League Baseball announced a similar plan back in August, although this one has vastly altered that.  The original proposal called for two challenges over the first six innings and one after the seventh for managers.

That plan cried out “boring”.  This new plan should help ease some of the pace concerns and place more of a burden directly on managers and coaching staffs.  While for the purists it still wreaks of a game-altering move by MLB, the human element that so many love should, for the most part, remain in tact.

Now instead of yelling at Bruce Bochy from your living room for things like pinch running for Buster Posey in the 7th inning of a tie game, disgruntled viewers can find frustration in wasting challenges, too.

Jul 26, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA;San Francisco Giants catcher  Posey (28) and manager Bruce Bochy (15) in the dugout before the game against the Chicago Cubs at AT

And you know this will be a new stat: Manager’s challenge win percentage.

Of course this creates new ways to be exacerbated by umpires, too.  Since reviews after the seventh inning will be at their behest if all challenges have been exhausted, get ready to be frustrated by umpires not reviewing calls that clearly should be, and vice versa.

So, don’t worry.  The system leaves plenty of things to complain about.  In fact, it creates some new ones that will undoubtedly be debated throughout the year.

Some highlights of the new system, via’s Jayson Stark:

  • Teams will be allowed to station a “video specialist” in the clubhouse to look for potential challenges, and would be able to communicate with the dugout via a hotline-type phone. But no monitors or video equipment would be allowed in the dugout itself.
  • Baseball will require home and visiting teams to have access to the same video feeds.
  • There won’t be a set time limit for managers to challenge a call, but challenges have to be made, Joe Torre said, before both the pitcher and hitter “are ready to go” for the next pitch. If umpires believe one team is stalling while it determines whether to challenge a call, there would “probably be a discipline attached to that.” It wasn’t specified what that discipline would be.
  • Replay officials in New York would work six-hour shifts, and would only overturn calls on the field “if there is clear and convincing evidence” to do so, the new rules stipulate. The replay official, and not the umpires working a game, would determine where to place runners following an overturned call.
  • Another wrinkle of the new rules will allow clubs to show replays of controversial plays in the stadium for the first time. Teams would be able to air up to two replays at regular speed. Then, once the review is completed, fans in the park will be shown an additional replay that demonstrates why the call was overturned, or upheld.

For the most part I think replay will be a good thing and the system will only get better.  Of course there will be bugs and kinks to work out, but this appears to be a step in the right direction.