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How expanded replay will work this season

January 17, 2014|Bill Shaikin
  • Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it has expanded the use of instant replay and will allow managers to challenge at least one call per game.
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it has expanded the use of… (Julie Jacobson / Associated…)

It happens every year. The umpire blows a call, and every fan watching on television can see it. But baseball, bound by tradition and its embrace of the so-called "human element," shrugged and went on with the game, even if the blown call was the difference between victory and defeat. No more. For the first time -- and starting this season -- Major League Baseball will permit video review of just about every call an umpire can make beyond balls and strikes.

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How will this work?

Each manager can challenge one call per game. If the challenge is successful, the manager gets a second challenge. Baseball officials believe there are few truly egregious calls, and limiting a manager to one or two challenges forces him to use them wisely.

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What kind of plays are not subject to review?

In addition to balls and strikes, managers cannot challenge obstruction and interference calls. Also, the so-called "neighborhood play" will stand, with the second baseman or shortstop not strictly required to tag second base if he is vulnerable to a sliding runner.

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What if a manager has no challenges left in the ninth inning, and a horrible call might decide the game?

If a manager is out of challenges -- and if the game is in the seventh inning or later -- the umpires can call for video review.

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Who conducts the review and decides if conclusive evidence exists to overturn a call?

Umpires in a central viewing room in New York. The on-site umpires will not have access to video and will not leave the field.

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How much longer will games take?

Baseball officials hope to shorten games, with the idea that at least some of the lengthy arguments between managers and umpires can be preempted by a prompt video review. Each manager will have a direct phone line to a team video coordinator, who can review plays immediately and suggest which plays should be challenged.

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What might be the best part of this system?

For the first time, teams will be permitted to show replays of controversial or disputed calls on ballpark video boards -- even if the call is not submitted for review. Baseball officials decided paying fans at the ballpark should get to see a replay, just as a fan watching at home would. Only plays under review will be shown in slow motion.

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