Monday, March 31, 2014

MLB Releases Replay Review Regulations for 2014 Season

MLB released its official Replay Review Regulations for instant replay in its expanded form for 2014.

In crafting the regulations, Major League Baseball stopped short of calling "Replay Review" an actual rule, deferring to a more formal model than the 2008 directive and bulletin issued by Commissioner Bud Selig in regards to that season's introduction of limited instant replay for home run-related boundary calls.

What follows is a summary of the Major League Baseball Replay Review Regulations, parsed and organized for UEFL'ers and fans of the game (Or if you are legally inclined and/or UmpAttyread the raw text here):

I. Overview
MLB defines video instant replay review in the Overview, declaring its mission "to provide timely review of certain disputed calls in all Championship Season, All-Star and PostSeason games played in the 30 Major League ballparks (and, beginning in 2015, in any ballpark at which a Major League Championship Season game is played"—Sydney Cricket Ground, MLB's looking at you). The overview states such replay review may be used to reverse or confirm an umpire's on-field call. Elastic Clause power for the Replay Review Regulations is defined and rests with the Commissioner's Office.

II. Challenging and Reviewing Calls Pursuant to Replay Review (MLB error - no section # given)
The Manager shall be responsible for invoking challenges where applicable while the umpiring Crew Chief is responsible for determining whether a Manager Challenge has been properly and timely made. The Crew Chief is also empowered to initiate his own review, where appropriate and allowed.

B. Manager Challenges (MLB error - Regulations omit subsection "A")
Each team receives one Manager Challenge to start each game. Using this challenge, the Manager may:
> Challenge as many reviewable calls within a single play as he desires using the one challenge;
> If the Replay Official does not overturn any calls challenged, the team loses its challenge ability;
> If the Replay Official overturns any of the calls challenged, the team receives one additional challenge;
> After this second challenge is exhausted, the team/Manager no longer has the ability to challenge.
The Manager is the only person on the team authorized to initiate Replay Review via challenge or inquiry, unless he cannot due to: injury, illness, ejection or any other "legitimate reason."

To invoke a Manager Challenge, the Manager shall approach the Umpire who made the call(s) up for review or the Crew Chief if the call was made after crew conference. Requests are made verbally.

If the Umpire prompts the Manager (e.g., "would you like to challenge?"), the Manager must respond immediately that he intends to challenge. If he fails to do so, he loses the right to challenge that play.

C. Crew Chief Reviews
Crew Chiefs shall be empowered, in his sole discretion, to initiate Replay Reviews at any time for:
> Potential home run calls (as in the 2008-2013 grandfathered limited replay clause);
> Questions of collisions at home plate rule violations, as in OBR Experimental Rule 7.13.

Crew Chiefs may conduct Replay Reviews in the 7th inning or later (since changed to the 8th inning) upon his own initiative if a team is out of challenges or upon the request of a Manager, but only if this Manager has no remaining Manager Challenges. The Crew Chief may also refuse to honor the Manager's request. The Crew Chief is not permitted to initiate Replay Review if the requesting Manager has a Manager Challenge remaining (team must be out of challenges).

D. Timing of Manager Challenges and Crew Chief Reviews
Managers must verbally communicate his intention to challenge and/or the Crew Chief must initiate Replay Review prior to the next play or pitch. However, if the defense initiates an appeal play, this shall not be considered a play or attempted play. Absent an appeal play, the next play officially begins when the pitcher is on the rubber and the batter is in the batter's box. Challenges or inquiries regarding plays that end a game must be made immediately upon conclusion of the play and teams must remaining in their respective dugouts until the Replay Official renders a decision. No substitutions or pitching changes may be made during Replay Review.

Pitching Changes: The defensive Manager must exercise his challenge prior to signaling for a pitching change while the offensive Manager must exercise his challenge or the Crew Chief must initiate Replay Review before the relief pitcher steps onto the warning track or, if the bullpen is in foul territory as in AT&T Park, Wrigley Field, etc., before the pitcher steps across the foul line. Yet if the Crew Chief feels the defensive Manager called for a relief pitcher to enter the track or cross the line for the sole purpose of preventing the offensive Manager from challenging a play, the Crew Chief may still authorize this challenge. If TV broadcasts have gone to commercial, the results of the instant replay review will be delayed until the television audience returns.

Third Out/End of Inning: The Manager must "immediately run onto the field" to notify the Umpire his team is considering a challenge within 10 seconds of the out call. Within 30 seconds of entering the field, the Manager must inform the Umpire he wishes to challenge the call or he loses the right to challenge that play. Same goes for a Manager's inquiry if he is out of challenges.

Challenge of Crew Chief Review: A Manager may challenge a call during a play that is otherwise reserved for Crew Chief Review. For instance, a HR/No HR call is under Crew Chief Review, but the Manager wishes to challenge the out call at home plate that immediately followed. If the Crew Chief Review overturns the play from "live ball" to "HR," then the Manager's challenge is waived and retained for later use.

Untimely Challenge: If the Crew Chief determines the Manager delayed too long or otherwise did not timely challenge a play, the Umpire's call shall stand and the Manager's team not charged with a challenge. Timeliness itself is not a reviewable call.

E. Inning Break Mechanics
Instant Replay Review opened a can of worms with regards to commercial breaks—namely with challenges that are made directly prior to pitching changes and inning-end/half-inning commercials breaks. To combat this, MLB hired a series of Field Timing Coordinators to try & keep television broadcasts from going to commercial when a Replay Review is possible. If TV/Radio went to commercial when the Umpires initiated Replay Review, the Replay Official's decision shall be delayed until the commercial break is over; then it will be announced.

You may see the Field Timing Coordinator hold up the following colored cards during games:
RED: Signifies the commencement of an inning or pitching change break;
BLUE: Indicates when the pitcher should throw his last warmup pitch (45 seconds remaining);
YELLOW: At this time, the batter should leave the on-deck circle for home plate (25 seconds);
GREEN: Indicates the break is over and the broadcast is back to live coverage (clear to resume).
If no card is being displayed to the press box, no broadcast should be going to commercial break.

F. Delay of Game
This provision prohibits infield personnel from intentionally delaying the game so as to give their Managers, Coaches or Video Replay Specialists more time to consult replay. If an Umpire believes a Delay of Game situation is occurring, he may prompt the Manager for an immediate decision, as in B, while concurrently issuing a warning to the Manager. After a previous warning for delay, the Crew Chief may rescind a club's challenge if the team again intentionally delays the game (similar to basketball's technical foul penalty for repeated violations of delay). The Commissioner may also penalize a team for delay of game violations.

G. Challenge of a Reviewable Play by Both Managers (or request for Crew Chief review)
If both Managers challenge the same play, it likely will concern different reviewable calls within the same reviewable play. This is allowed. If this happens, the Replay Official shall review challenged calls in chronological order (from our above HR/No HR & safe/out at home plate scenario, this means the HR/No HR call is reviewed prior to the home plate call). If the Replay Official's decision regarding an earlier call renders moot a later call ("live ball" changed to "HR" wipes out the play at the plate), the later call is not reviewed and challenges regarding the later call are rescinded and returned to the requesting team, as appropriate.

If challenges are not invoked simultaneously (e.g., if both Managers don't go onto the field to challenge at the same time for the same play), the second challenge must be made before the Crew Chief talks to the Replay Official via headset, lest it be considered untimely.

H. Effect of Replay Review Result on Post Play Decision by Manager
This can happen if, say, a fair ball call results in a pitching change or if a time play decision to score/cancel the score on the third out is reversed. If the call is overturned on Replay Review (e.g., it's now a foul ball or the run now counts to tie the game instead of a one-run lead), such a decision made after the play and influenced by the incorrect call shall be nullified and the Manager allowed to change (or reaffirm) his strategic decision based on the overturned call (the closer can go back to the bullpen).

I. Specificity of the Challenge
Managers must inform the Crew Chief what, specifically, he is challenging (though he doesn't need to say why he thinks it was wrong). For instance, the Manager can say he is challenging the out call at first base, but doesn't need to tell the umpire he thinks the first baseman's foot was pulled versus the ball failed to beat the runner versus the first baseman dropped the ball.

Under this provision, the Replay Official is prohibited from reviewing any calls other than those included in a Manager's Challenge or otherwise invoked by the Crew Chief. For instance, if a ball hit to the outfield was ruled fair and then an attempt on the batter-runner at second was ruled safe, but the defensive Manager only challenges the safe call at second, then the Replay Official is prohibited from reviewing the fair ball call, even if it is otherwise a reviewable call, because the Manager failed to specify the challenge.

J. Communicating with the Replay Official and the Public
The Crew Chief shall point at and walk towards the headset technician to signal that a play is under Replay Review. The Crew Chief and the calling umpire (or #2 if the -cc is the calling umpire) shall don the headsets.

Crew Chief: Communicates with the Replay Official. Shall state what is being challenged and by whom or, in the case of Crew Chief Review, what shall be reviewed. Shall verify the Replay Official's final decision. Crew Chief may also communicate with the Replay Official at any time and without using the point mechanic during the game for record keeping purposes (ball/strike count, # of outs, score, etc.), determining issues of substitution as in batting out of turn, consulting the Official Baseball Rules in situations which a misinterpretation or misapplication of rules may result in protest of the game.

Accompanying Umpire: Communicates with the Stadium's public address announcer. Shall state what call(s) are being reviewed after which he shall join the Crew Chief in speaking with the Replay Official.

Replay Official: Communicates with Crew Chief. Shall verify what is being challenged and, after rendering his decision, inform the Crew Chief of the result. Shall, with the aid of a NY technician, send to the ballpark the specific definitive video used to make the decision. After this video is shown in the ballpark and the Replay Review decision announced, no further video from the challenged play may be shown.

MLBAM Technician: Ensures all Umpires are able to converse with the appropriate parties. After a decision is rendered, the BAM technician informs the PA announcer of the final decision.

K. Irrevocable and Final
Once a Manager affirmatively indicates he wishes to use a Manager's Challenge, he may not rescind it.

The Replay Official's decision to uphold or change call(s) or place runners shall be final and binding. Onfield personnel who argue or object to this decision shall be ejected from the game. No protest shall be allowed on judgment decisions by the Replay Official. Rule 4.19 does not apply to these Regulations.

When Replay Review is not available or when a call is not reviewable, managers/coaches/players making reference to consulting video replay of the play in question shall be subject to ejection.

III. Standard for Changing a Call
MLB has chosen the "clear and convincing evidence" standard for its burden. If clear and convincing evidence exists to suggest the original call was made in error, the Replay Official may change the call. If this definitive conclusion cannot be made, the call must stand.

IV. Correcting an Incorrect Call
The Replay Official shall have discretion to place teams in the same positions they would have been in had the correct call been made, as in Rule 9.02(c). This includes runner placement.

A. Placement of Runners
Replay Official, having sole power to place runners if a call is overturned, shall place runners on bases he believes they would have reached had the correct call been made in real time, unless OBR awards predicate this placement (e.g., a two-base award for a ball thrown out of play). The Replay Official may also declare runner(s) out, but only if a play was attempted on or call made regarding that runner (e.g., Joe Maddon's fourth out drill—throw the ball home and tag R3, just in case).

Arguing runner placement as the result of Replay Review is grounds for immediate ejection.

V. Reviewable Calls
Only the following calls are eligible for video instant Replay Review, though umpires are still empowered to conference or discuss other calls and plays, where appropriate.

A. Potential Home Run Calls
Crew Chief Review: Regards whether a ball left the playing field or struck an object/wall/fence, was subject to fan interference or whether the ball was fair or foul.

B. Non-Home Run Boundary Calls
Manager Challenge: Whether a live ball bounced out of play, was interfered with by a fan reaching over a boundary or fence, was caught by a fielder in the field of play or otherwise left the playing field.

C. Specified Fair/Foul Ball Calls
Manager Challenge: Whether a ball that lands at or beyond the set positions of the first or third base Umpire (or where the Umpire would have been in the case of a 3-Person Crew) is foul, unless a line drive is fielded by a defensive player in the infield (not reviewable). The question of whether a fair/foul ball call is reviewable is itself not reviewable.

D. Force/Tag Play Calls
Manager Challenge: Calls involving a defensive player's attempt to put out a runner via a tag of the runner or a base prior to the runner's arrival at a base. A thrown ball, therefore, "shall be deemed as having been caught at the point in time that the ball touches the fielder's hand or glove (so long as the fielder maintains possession of the ball from the point of contact and thereafter)."
Not Reviewable: An umpire's out call at second base on a force play in which the defensive player may or may not have touched second base in an attempt to avoid collision or complete a double play, whether a baserunner left early when tagging up, whether a batter-runner rounded first base in an attempt to advance to second base, whether a runner abandoned his effort to advance (7.08(a)(2)).

E. Catch Plays in the Outfield
Manager Challenge: Catch/trap on a fly ball or line drive fielded by an outfielder.
Not Reviewable: Balls hit to or touched by an infielder, unless it is hit in an area behind the original position of the nearest infielder. The determination of reviewable status is, itself, not reviewable.

F. Base Running
Manager Challenge: Whether a baserunner passed a preceding runner, whether a base runner scored ahead of the third out and whether a runner touched a base (requires defensive appeal prior to Replay Review).
NOTE: The runner can be awarded with a touch of home plate if he fails to touch the plate because he was declared out on a tag and this original declaration of out was overturned.

G. Hit By Pitch
Manager Challenge: If the ball may have possibly touched a batter or his clothing, the play is reviewable. If the ball may have hit the bat prior to touching the batter, the Home Plate Umpire shall determine whether the ball hit the bat or not prior to Replay Review for the issue of whether the ball hit the bat is not reviewable. Also not reviewable are whether the ball was in the strike zone when it touched the batter and whether the batter made any attempt to avoid being touched by the ball.

H. Collisions at Home Plate
Crew Chief Review: Whether Rule 7.13 has been violated by either the offensive or defensive player.

VI. Technology and Personnel (MLB error - no section # given)
A. Available Video (MLB error - Regulations omit subsection "A")
Replay Official shall have available both the home and away local broadcast feeds, national broadcast feeds when available, up to six additional camera feeds from both the home and away broadcasts and a high-home camera angle.

B. Replay Officials
Replay Officials are assigned in the same fashion umpire crews are assigned while the Office of the Commissioner shall assign supervisors and MLBAM will assign technicians. This Regulation states that the Office of the Commissioner may publicly disclose, by crew only, Umpires who are serving as Replay Officials on a given day, but will not disclose the identity of any umpire making a specific replay decision.

Both video and audio will be available for review.

C. Technology
1. If technical malfunctions or other issues arise that prevent the operation of the Replay Review system, each ballpark will have an alternative method of conducting video review at the ballpark, unless the Office of the Commissioner and Crew Chief determine that the game shall be played without the availability of video replay review, in which case both Managers and the press box shall be notified and a public address announcement made to the fans.

2. Identical In-Park Video as used by Replay Officials will be provided to the home and visiting clubs in determining whether to challenge a play. Each dugout shall have a phone directly to the respective clubhouse video rooms with a walkie-talkie serving as a back-up communication device. The dugout phone/two-way radio shall only be used for issues of whether to challenge a play subject to video replay review.

3. Scoreboards must display video clips in accordance with MLB regulations. Umpires are prohibited from using in-park video play as a basis to change a call on the field.

4 & 5. The MLBPA, World Umpires Association & BOC have agreed that the Commissioner's office may determine whether replay will be used at alternate venues. Communications between the on-field umpires and Replay Officials shall not be recorded or used for any other purpose than conducting Replay Reviews.

D. Official Scorer
The Official Scorer shall continue to apply OBR Rule 10 to reflect the Replay Official's decision.


Lindsay said...

Bob Davidson was the first umpire to have a call challenge by the Cubs at first base . Bob's call was correct.

Lindsay said...

When a coach loses a challenge In football, the team faces losing a time out. In baseball, we do not really have a comparable way to hurt the manager for an incorrect challenge. MLB should penalize the managers for too many failed challenges in order to prevent guys from challenging just for the hell of it. As of yesterday's game, The Cubs' manager, Rick Renteria, is 0/5 on challenges if you include Spring Training. This guy is clearly just challenging because he can, not because he truly believes they got the call wrong. Were his today advisors wrong five times? Seriously? I propose implementing a 1 game ban for every 10 or 15 failed challenges. The impact of this penalty will be offset by the reduced number of ejections managers faced now that they have an alternative to arguing. A really smart manager will never get that many wrong and it will add an element of risk to delaying the game just because you feel like it. Thoughts?

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