DENVER - OCTOBER 01: This play would not have lived in infamy if MLB had replay in 2007. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
"Holliday STILL hasn't touched the plate!!!"
It's a statement any Padres fan identifies with. Had instant replay been available to MLB umpires in 2007, odds are Matt Holliday would have been called out at home and the Padres would have still been alive in the 163rd game of the season.
Of course, allowing game officials access to video of replays during a game was was technologically possible at that time. The NFL had been doing it for two decades. Baseball simply did not want to remove "the human element" it holds so dear. Well, that and the fact the game, under Commissioner Bud Selig, has tended to adopt new ideas at roughly the speed of Congress.
However, MLB is finally coming around. After experimenting with replay on home run calls with good results, the 2014 season will have a full-blown instant replay system in place. At the conclusion of the quarterly MLB owners meetings, all 30 big league clubs voted for a new plan. Amazingly, the Players Association and World Umpires Association have both given it their blessing, as well.
First off, balls and strikes are off the table, and they will be forever (sorry, QuesTec). What will be reviewable are whether or not a ball is fair or foul, tag plays, whether or not an outfielder makes a catch (trapped balls), and force plays to see whether or not a runner beat a throw.
That last one does carry a notable exception; plays at second base on double plays are not reviewable, so the infamous "neighborhood play" will still be a source of many a managerial ejection.
Much like the NFL blueprint, managers will be allowed one challenge per game. If they win that challenge, they will be awarded a second challenge (but no more than two in a single game). From the 7th inning on, the umpire crew chief has the ability to use replay on any reviewable call.
In case you're interested, here is the full list and description of expanded replay, per the the MLB press release:
The following play types will be subject to review:
Ground rule double
Stadium boundary calls (e.g., fielder into stands, ball into stands triggering dead ball)
Force play (except the fielder's touching of second base on a double play)
Tag play (including steals and pickoffs)
Fair/foul in outfield only
Trap play in outfield only
Batter hit by pitch
Timing play (whether a runner scores before a third out)
Touching a base (requires appeal)
Record keeping (Ball-strike count to a batter, outs, score, and substitutions)
All other plays will not be reviewable; however, the Umpires may still convene on the field at any time to discuss the play.
INITIATION OF INSTANT REPLAY
Field managers may initiate replay review on one reviewable play per game by verbally indicating his intention to challenge, in a timely manner, to the Crew Chief. Guidelines will be established to determine whether a challenge is timely.
The manager may request that the umpire review multiple portions of the same play, but he must specify exactly which portions of the play he is challenging.
If any portion of a challenged play is overturned, 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. In that circumstance, the Crew Chief is not obligated to invoke instant replay if requested by the manager.
Home run calls that are currently subject to instant replay review will continue to be reviewed at the Crew Chief's discretion. Managers may request that an Umpire review a home run call, but managers cannot challenge home run calls.
Once instant replay review is invoked (either by the Manager or the Crew Chief), the Crew Chief will signal to the official scorer that the play is under review.
The Crew Chief and at least one other umpire will then move to a designated communication location near home plate, where they will have access to a hard-wired headset connected to the Replay Command Center in New York.
Major League Umpires will be staffed as Replay Officials at the Replay Command Center, located at MLB Advanced Media headquarters, for all Major League games.
The Replay Command Center will have direct access to video from most cameras in the ballpark in real-time, regardless of whether they are shown on the live broadcast.
The Replay Official will look at the video feeds and determine if there is clear and convincing evidence to overturn the call on the field. If the Replay Official overturns a call on the field, he will also use his judgment to determine where to appropriately place runners if the play had been called correctly on the field.
The umpires on the field will not have a monitor to review the play and they will not leave the field at any time.
The Replay Official will make the ultimate determination of whether to overturn the call.
On-Field personnel may not argue with the decision of the Replay Official.
CLUB ACCESS TO VIDEO
To determine whether to challenge a play, personnel in the dugout will be permitted to communicate with a video specialist in the Clubhouse who has access to the same video that is available to Replay Officials. This communication will occur via the dugout phone.
Both the home and visiting Clubs will have standardized technology to ensure each Club has equal access to all video.
No monitors or additional electronic equipment will be permitted in the dugout.
Clubs will now have the right to show replays of all close plays on its ballpark scoreboard, regardless of whether the play is reviewed.
Replays will be available in a few Spring Training games to start getting everyone used to the process.