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Instant replay is on: it has been approved by the owners, MLBPA and umpires

Jan 16, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

Gentlemen, start your DVRs. Or whatever it is you’re going to use. MLB owners, umpires and the MLBPA have approved instant replay. This thing is happening.

As reported back in November, the system will be triggered by manager challenges. Mangers will get two per game. Here’s is the MLB press release’s description of the system:

Managers will have at least one challenge to use.  If any portion of a challenged play is overturned, then 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.  Once the manager has exhausted his ability to challenge plays during the game and after the beginning of the seventh inning, the Crew Chief may choose to invoke instant replay on any reviewable call.  Home run and other boundary calls will remain reviewable under the procedures in place last season.

A designated communication location near home plate will be established at all 30 MLB ballparks.  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, which will remain at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York.  Major League Umpires will be staffed as Replay Officials at the Replay Command Center.  After viewing video feeds, the Replay Official will make the ultimate determination of whether to overturn the call, based on the continuing standard of whether there is clear and convincing evidence.

While we have argued long and hard about how we’d prefer a different system — one which employs a fifth umpire or doesn’t otherwise shift the responsibility of getting correct calls from umpires to managers — it’s a moot point now. This is the system we have.

There will likely be kinks and inefficiencies at the outset, but as with any new system, many will be worked through over time. My discussions with MLB sources have also convinced me that MLB is going to keep an open mind about all of this and, rather than insist everything is fine even if it isn’t, will tweak and review the system in response to problems that are encountered. That may seem like an obvious approach to things, but it’s probably worth remembering that MLB hasn’t always been the quickest to acknowledge mistakes and implement changes.  Here’s hoping those assurances of quality control are carried through.

One bonus here: replays will now be shown on video boards inside the ballpark. That has rarely if ever been the case — people apparently thought it was rude to bring scrutiny on the umpires or something — but now the people in the park can see what everyone else in the world can see. I suppose that’s progress.

  1. Ayana Rashed - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Reblogged this on Imarashed.

  2. Rich Stowe - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    still not a fan of the challenge system (would much rather have a play automatically reviewed like in college football by a 5th umpire onsite or remote) but something is better than nothing

    • Jeremy T - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      I do like that the crew chief can initiate a review. That seems like it’d counteract some of the worst points of a challenge system. Now, it’s certainly possible that the umpire’s ego would get in the way and we’d still have a problem, but this at the very least would’ve eliminated the Joyce/Galaragga incident.

    • clydeserra - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      But they are actually unlimited challenges. You think because you lost the play at first in the 3rd, you are not going to argue the same play in the 9th because you are out of challenges? If the umpires can go to replay anytime, at some point they will.

      Sure, some umps are going to say toss off at first, maybe all of them, but eventually when they see the replay and know they were wrong,* they will start to check without a challenge.

      Too Pollyanna?

      *none Angel henandez division

    • kevinbnyc - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      I feel like there has to be a limit at some point. Yes, if it’s legitimately a close play on something meaningful like a home run or inning-ending double-play, review it. But I feel like the college football system wastes a ton of time reviewing a 3 yard completion that is essentially meaningless in the greater context of the game.

  3. peddealer - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Wow! You know they are still going to blow calls, now it will just take 10 minutes to blow the call instead of a quick dialogue between the crew.

    Not really a fan of this, loved the fallibility of umpires as part of the game.

    MLB… I am pretty sure you could care less what a fan in Arlington, Texas wants, but PLEASE do not try to copy and tag a long with football.

    The more you stay old school, and stay true to the roots, the more people will love it for being genuine, and true to it’s roots.

    Maybe time will change my mind, or them getting the calls correct.

    Here’s to hoping I’m wrong,

    Justin in Texas

    • Rich Stowe - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      replay won’t take 10 minutes, it will be more like 30 seconds or a minute…and since when has dialogue among the umpring crew (or a manager coming out to argue) taken less than 10 minutes?

      I’m betting replay will take less time than an umpire dialog did and will get the calls right (whereas umpire dialog rarely changed the call to the correct one)…

    • scastro87 - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      Hard to believe you actually enjoy umpires getting calls wrong.

    • southofheaven81 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Yeah, because in the 49ers game last weekend, where they threw for a touchdown but it was initially ruled an incomplete pass? That would have been SO much better if they’d just let the bad call stand & moved on with the game. Because accuracy sucks, and waiting and thinking are hard.

      • mtr75 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        If you honestly think “instant” replay is going to eliminate bad calls, boy are you in for a surprise. It sure as hell didn’t eliminate them in football. What it is mainly going to do is drag out games, which is already baseball’s biggest drawback.

    • leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      This post gave me cancer.

  4. skids003 - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Can managers still argue calls? I’ll miss the old rhubarbs if they can’t.

  5. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    2 challenges makes sense – I mean, has there ever been more then two incorrect calls in a game?

    • mtr75 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      True, let’s have 10 a side, that way baseball can take as long as cricket.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        Or….get a 5th ump who can review plays, have ZERO challenges per game, and have games be as fast as baseball games….with all the plays that need revie getting reviewed

        But that would mean an extra $3.5 million dollars a year to hire 15 new umps….I mean, how could baseball come up with that kind of money?

      • clydeserra - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        cricket has reviews. and 20/20 takes a couple hours

    • xdj511 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      I’m shocked…. SHOCKED… that you would insinuate that umpires are so fallible that there might be more than two incorrect calls in a single game!

      Anyway it’s all fun and games until a manager blows both of his challenges by the sixth inning and then something really egregious happens and he’s powerless to object.

    • Marty McKee - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      You’ve never seen Joe West umpire a game, I take it.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        Joe West makes two incorrect calls on the same pitch. Sometimes 3

      • johnnynewguy - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        Haha, how true. And Joe West isn’t even the worst ump in the game. Angel Hernandez anyone?

      • nbjays - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:20 PM

        Bob Davidson says hi!

  6. shaggylocks - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    I get most of my baseball news from Imarashed. Why isn’t this ever reblogged over there?

    Oh, wait, nevermind. Well, why didn’t anyone TELL me it was reblogged over there?

    Oh, wait…\

    Seriously, though, what the hell is reblogging? Sounds like a cutesy term for plagiarism.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Just looking around the HBT homepage I see that there is a “reblog” button. Clearly the blog is set up for reblogging otherwise it wouldn’t be part of the site. I presume the bloggers are ok with this feature, however as an employer I’ve foisted unpopular practices on my employees, so I’m not married to this explanation.

      Now pardon me. Its time for the IT department’s daily, policy mandated, beating. Its the only exercise i get these days so I hate to miss a session

    • umrguy42 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      It’s part and parcel of the WordPress system, I think. Kinda like using the “Share” button for something on Facebook – somebody else’s post then gets posted on your site (usually with a link to where you got it from, mind, so not quite plagiarism). The “reblogged this on _____” message is automatically posted by the WordPress software, so the user’s not even the one actually doing that.

      • shaggylocks - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        Oh damn, I had no idea. I, and I’m sure many others, always thought Iamarashed was doing some annoying self promotion. I guess WordPress isn’t doing him any favors there.

      • umrguy42 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        Well, he or she reblogs a LOT of the stuff here, so, yeah, we’re tired of it anyway – even when we *know* why the comment comes.

        It’s almost a commentary on the WordPress stuff at this point. Same thing when we shout EDIT FUNCTION! after messing up a post…

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      The preferred term these days is “curate”, not plagiarize. Or steal. Trust me – I “curate” for my day job (the other day job….not my hyper-criticism of Craig job)

      Re-Blogging the lazy way of creating content, rather than type up “Craig Calcaterra had an interesting post about Replay today, in it he said……blah, blah…..My take? Well that is a good point….blah, blah….”

      It actually helps this blog to be re-blogged. But it is annoying

  7. laxer37 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Welcome to the 1990’s Major League Baseball!

  8. mtr75 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Call me old-fashioned, but I’d still rather see the manager go out there and kick dirt on the ump’s shoes than this. I’d rather see a guy standing close to the plate get hit; I’d rather see the other team retaliate without the ump warning both benches; I’d rather see the second baseman have to stay on the damn bag to get an out; I’d rather see a catcher stand in there if he wants to; I’d rather they just put up a wall and if the ball’s over it, it’s a home run, and if it isn’t over it, it’s not. This is just the next step in the long, slow dumbification of baseball. You see it in football with quarterbacks in tutu’s and safety’s not being able to cream a receiver coming over the middle, and now it’s well on it’s way in baseball, too.

    Just think of how much less entertaining you would’ve been in the “instant” replay era, Sweet Lou.


    • brewcrewfan54 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Yeah because other than the good comedy of seeing an old man flipping out managers arguing always gets such great results. Not to mention the neighborhood play has been going on forever, its not new. And yeah, catchers getting run over, which happens maybe 10 times a year, is such a vital part of the game. I’ll get off your lawn now.

      • mtr75 - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:22 PM

        And get your dog out of my flower garden!

    • cofran2004 - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:01 AM

      So… instant replay somehow led to someone rolling tom brady’s ankle, causing his acl to tear, leading to all the QB protection rules that have come into play?

      You’re right. And while we’re at it… lets not have teacher’s correct tests either. After all, correcting tests is really just test instant replay. And That just slows the school year down and leads to kids in study halls. After all, it’d be awesome to have kids graduate at 11, dumb as hell and even further behind the rest of the world.

      And lets not have bakers review their work either! It just keeps you in the office longer! Who cares if they missed a 0 in your 1000 dollar check. It’s more important to get you in and out faster than worrying about whether or not your account is 900 bucks short of what it should be.

      Are you starting to see people’s points? Baseball without replay has become a joke, and people have stopped watching. Why not take the few minutes it takes (only up to 4 times in the first 7 innings) to get the calls right? Human error is not charming. It’s infuriating.

  9. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    Can’t wait to chant “Throw the flag! Throw the flag!” That’s so baseball.

    • xdj511 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      Re-play! Re-play! Re-play!

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    The more I think about it, the more I think the whole “2 challenges per manager” is a decent idea.

    The umpires have shown an amazing lack of willingness to challenge themselves or each other. If it were left up to them, there would be no need for replay because they have never ever gotten a call wrong the old-fashioned way.

    If replay MUST be invoked by the teams, it is certainly best to limit it. While the potential for problems exists in games with more than 2 blown calls, I foresee problems in games with less than 2 incorrect calls also. Managers like LaRussa (I know he isn’t managing anymore) or Maddon might not want to “waste” a challenge flag sitting in his pocket, and might try to inject a little extra gamesmanship by “icing” the closer or some other such nonsense late in a game. If we must rely on manager challenges, it is best that they are limited.

    • mtr75 - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:24 PM

      I actually don’t think that’s even remotely true. I’ve seen more umps getting together and talking over calls in the last 3 years or so than in the previous 20.

      • cofran2004 - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:11 AM

        And how much good has come of that? I think I’ve seen one call overturned like… ever.

  11. NYTolstoy - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    I don’t completely hate it just for the fact that an umpire can do its own challenge after the 7th inning. Which will be important. I was hoping for something of the same effect. For example the 9th inning on is automatically reviewable.

  12. braxtonrob - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    What “is on”? “approved” by who, I didn’t get that the first time.

  13. moogro - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    Wow, really convoluted and variously unsatisfying to everyone. Nice meeting, guys.

    We’ll definitely look back on these days of laborious baby steps of dragging the human element out of the game with wonder. Where was the power located that created such friction? What was all the fuss about?

    It is the umpires. They have convinced themselves, and now many others that their existence depends on their stagecraft being a necessary ingredient to the narrative of the game. This new regime foisted upon the game hopes to institutionalize this stagecraft. Unfortunately, it is incremental and temporary, and worse, unnecessary. We are now on the path to rule changes every couple years, starring or involving umpires. Multiple, constant rule changes every few years are bad for the game- especially when the gamesmanship of a challenge system can be the difference between making playoffs, or advancing in the playoffs. All when so many strange variants could be set aside right now by just following the rules and getting the calls correct through the fifth umpire system. I can understand the irrational fear of computers calling balls and strikes (although that is inevitable also), but not implementing a simple fifth umpire system now and enjoying a long, enjoyable era of baseball and fans seeing and getting the calls right, and just letting the players play, without all this strange mediation is unfortunate.

    Do we really want to look back on the 2016 and 2021 seasons, and say things such as:

    “So and so team would have been great in the playoffs had they not fallen a game short because of that mishandled challenge.”

    “So and so would have been champions in 2016 and again 2018 without that challenge debacle. They were used up early and the umpires should have bailed that manager out on that play in the ninth.”

    Why would we want to expose ourselves to these possibilities?

    • bmfc1 - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:09 AM

      Well said. You don’t need umpires to play baseball. Theoretically, all you need are 9 players on each side. Anything above that is a policy decision. When MLB was created, umpires were deemed necessary to make decisions necessary to the game but now, if there is another mechanism available to make those calls, then you don’t need the umpires. The “human element” is the players (it’s not a video game). I hope that one day the umpires are deemed to be superfluous so the players, the ones that we are there to see, decide every game.

  14. sumerduckman - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Super long telephoto lenses compress space. That is usually what they use to broadcast games.
    Sometimes the tele lens has a better view than the guy four feet away. Sometimes not, sometimes it lies. But that is what the guy in the booth, and the crowd will see.

    We need umpire head cams.

    See the world, just like C.B. Bucknor.

  15. unclemosesgreen - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Finally. So I assume the first order of business will be to take care of that little Jeffrey Maier punk?

  16. nawlinssaints1956 - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Let’s see how this works, then pass judgement: it most likely will save Gardy some money. While they are at it , let’s put a time clock on the pitcher like the SEC does, and keep the batters from stepping out every pitch to adjust their junk and gloves…

  17. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    From what was said on MLB radio on the drive home, all replays will be conducted in a replay center in New York similar to the way the NHL does it. Also from the 7th inning on, replays can be set off by the crew chief, even if the manager is out of challenges. I’m still not sold, but I do like that the person doing the replay is not on the field. Helps with impartiality. I do think it’s stupid the crew chief has to be the one to call for a review at the end of the game as usually it’s the crew chief that’s blowing the call. I can’t wait to track the stats on how many reviews Angel Hernandez calls on himself. (Is there a number for “Screw you, I am Angel Hernandez! No computer machine can tell me what to do!”)

    I do like that hit by pitch is changeable. Someone on the radio brought up that this might discourage the Jeter type dive into a pitch then not have it hit him but walk to firstbase since there will be video evidence the player dove at the ball. Unfortunately he said that like it was a bad thing. The rule states you must attempt to get out of the way, let’s start calling it that way. Back off the plate!

  18. bmfc1 - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    A flaw in an otherwise good idea is that current umpires will be reviewing the work of current umpires. Per “Two additional four-man umpiring crews will be hired and umpires will be rotated through New York to review video feeds.” This means that eight new umpires (meaning last season’s minor leaguers) will now become MLB umpires. The quality of the umpiring is arguable but it won’t be improved by having eight newbies. Also, MLB could have used retired umpires or really anyone else (you and I can see the call on TV, too). Will a current umpire want to overrule his colleagues or perhaps a friend? At least the umpires, who already get two weeks off during the season, will get a period of time to enjoy New York and get paid without having to actually go to a ballpark. Another flaw is that there should a crew solely dedicated to games umpired by Angel Hernandez.

  19. kevinbnyc - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    I’m visualizing one guy in a room, surrounded by TVs, getting overwhelmed by 4 challenges coming in all at once. Hooray MLB.

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