Major League Baseball announced Thursday the addition of instant replay for the 2014 season. It's officially happening.
Notes from the release:
Managers will have at least one challenge to use, but managers can't challenge more than two plays in a game. 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.
After the beginning of the seventh inning, a crew chief may choose to invoke instant replay on any reviewable call.
Similar to the system used during the Arizona Fall League, the umpire will have a headset connected to MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York, where an umpire will make the final call. The AFL tested the system by having the official sitting in the stadium, so that's the one difference between the two.
Play types subject to review: Home run, ground rule double, fan interference, stadium boundary calls (e.g., fielder into stands), force play (except neighborhood calls), tag play, fair/foul in outfield, trap play in outfield, timing play (whether runner scores before third out), touching a base, passing runners, record keeping.
Teams will now have the right to show replays of all close plays on its ballpark video boards, regardless of whether the play is reviewed.
It's going to take a while to remember which plays are reviewable, but it covers a pretty wide margin. I find it odd that the neighborhood play - where a fielder is often rewarded a force out at second base even though he doesn't touch the base - isn't reviewable despite it being one of the more difficult calls. The correct call is often easy to spot by replay, so I find this weird.
The fact that stadiums can show all replays now could mean batters stepping out of the box or pitchers walking around the mound while managers decide whether to challenge the previous play. Players are still on a clock to keep the game going, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal, but you may see players and coaches attempting to bend this some. Mound visits could also become more common.
It will be interesting to see how often a crew chief decides to use his right to review from the seventh inning on. Managers might attempt to persuade by arguing more calls in the final innings. It might take time to strike the right balance on this. For the sake of game pace, I hope it doesn't become something like college football where they review seemingly every other call in the final minutes.
Overall, it's good for the game. Baseball needed to step forward and develop a replay system, and it's finally taking the initiative.