Expanded instant replay is officially coming to Major League Baseball for the 2014 season. MLB owners unanimously approved the new replay system today at the quarterly owners meetings, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com, and the new system has also been approved by the MLBPA and the World Umpires Association.
Managers will be allowed to challenge no more than two plays per game, with a second challenge only being earned if the manager wins his initial challenge. Initiation of these challenges will be made verbally to that day's crew chief. The umpiring crew will also be allowed to initiate a review on any qualified play from the seventh inning on, even if a manager has already used his challenge(s). Roughly 90 percent of plays in a game will be eligible for challenge, including: ground-rule doubles, fan interference, stadium boundary calls, force plays (with the exception of a fielder touching second base on a double play), tag plays, fair/foul calls in the outfield, trap calls in the outfield, hit by pitch calls, timing plays (whether a runner scores before a third out is recorded), touching a base, passing runners and record-keeping (e.g. ball and strike counts, outs, substitutions).
Home run calls will continue to be reviewable upon the crew chief's discretion. Managers can request that the umpiring crew review a home run call but cannot directly challenge a home run ruling.
Challeneged plays will be reviewed by an umpiring crew at the Replay Command Center at MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York. Ballparks will be equipped with an easily accessible communication center near home plate. Additionally, teams will be allowed to have a club employee monitor video outside of the dugout and communicate with the manager about whether or not to initiate a challenge. Teams will now also be allowed to show replays of close plays on the stadium video boards, even for plays that aren't reviewed.
Hagen's piece is an excellent rundown of the entire replay system which contains considerable detail on the new system and is well worth the read for those wanting to familiarize themselves with the full scope of replay expansion.
In a press release, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark stated: "The Players look forward to the expanded use of replay this season, and they will monitor closely its effects on the game before negotiating over its use in future seasons."