MLB owners approve expansion of instant replay for managers and fans

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(CNN) — Managers will be able to demand review of up to two umpiring decisions beginning full-time with the regular season in April, Major League Baseball announced Thursday.

And for fans who want a second look at every close play, MLB said it’s now OK for the home team to show all replays on the ballpark screens, even if the play isn’t being reviewed.

“The new system will give managers valuable recourse in potentially game-changing situations,” outgoing Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said through a written statement. “The opportunity for our fans to see more replays in our ballparks is also an important modification that the clubs and I favored.”

In past seasons, only home run and other “boundary” calls could be reviewed.

Beginning next season these decisions can be reviewed:

— Batter hit by pitch;

— Fair/foul (outfield only);

— Fan interference;

— Force play (except the fielder’s touching of second base on a double play);

— Ground-rule double;

— Home run;

— One runner passing another on the base paths;

— Record keeping (Ball/strike count to a batter, outs, score, and substitutions);

— Stadium boundary call (e.g., fielder into stands, ball into stands triggering dead ball);

— Tag on baserunner (including steals and pick-offs);

— Trapped ball (outfield only);

— Timing play (whether a runner scores before an unforced third out);

— Touching a base.

A manager will verbally indicate he wants a challenge, MLB said.

The replay officials will be based in New York at what MLB calls the Replay Command Center, staffed by more umpires. A replay official will overturn the call if he decides there is “clear and convincing evidence.” The crew at the stadium will listen for the decision over headsets and won’t be able to see the replay as it is being reviewed.

Managers may challenge one call. If the challenge results in a call being overturned, the manager is granted a second challenge. The umpiring crew chief may also call for review, provided the play comes after the seventh inning and the manager’s challenges are exhausted.

A manager may ask for a review of whether a hit should have been called a home run, or vice versa, but that review will not count as a challenge.

The new replay system will be tested during some televised spring training games in March.

The decision was approved unanimously Thursday by the owners of the 30 major league teams.

By Steve Almasy

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