New MLB Replay Rules: With or Against the Baseball Managers? 

John Means

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New MLB Replay Rules: With or Against the Baseball Managers? 

Replays are one of the different fair play scenarios you will notice in baseball. It was not too long ago when MLB Replay Rules saw the light of day. Commissioner Bud Selig introduced the rules on August 28, 2008, saying, 

I believe that the extraordinary technology that we now have merits the use of instant replay on a very limited basis” Selig also added “The system we have in place will ensure that the proper call is made on home run balls and will not cause a significant delay to the game.

So, what’s the current status of the Replay Rules in Baseball? Today, we will dig out MLB Replay Rules and whether they truly help the progress of your favorite baseball match! Hop in!  

MLB Replay Rules 

On August 28, 2008, MLB instituted replay reviews to be at the umpire’s discretion. The chief umpire can call on disputed home runs, provided that it seems a fair or foul, in or out of the ballpark, or fan interference

In 2014, MLB Replay Rules met some extensions. The new rule offered managers one challenge per game. Managers can, however, have two challenges in total given that their first challenge receives an overturned call. Upon that, a much wider range of calls were subjected to replay. 

All-Star Game, Postseason game, and Divisional or Wild Card tiebreaker game, all had the opportunities to two challenges to begin every other game. Next, the baseball manager challenge rule went through different modifications to reach the point where it is today. Give it a read

Journey of MLB Replay Rules 

Find it surprising or not! Major League Baseball (MLB) is the last of the four major leagues to apply the instant replay review system. 

All three other leagues: National Basketball Association (NBA),  National Hockey League (NHL), and National Football League (NFL) started earlier with replays in 2002, 1991, and 1986 eventually. 

Why MLB waited too long to bring in the replay feature in baseball is still not clear. Probably, MLB waited for the right technology to improve the efficiency of the replay system. Or, the reason could be anything! 

However, between 2008, since the implementation of instant review replays, and the season conclusion of 2010, 123 replays were reported in baseball; of which 48 replays resulted in instant overturned calls. With no replays to 123 instant replays! MLB needed instant replays badly, right? 

Overturn: In baseball, overturn refers to a situation where a ruling made on the field by an umpire is reversed or changed upon review. It typically occurs when a play is subject to replay review, and after reviewing the available video evidence, the officials determine that the initial call on the field was incorrect.

When a call is overturned, a manager can change his strategic decision and will receive one more challenge in the field. 

Early Changes in MLB Replay Rules

When the MLB replay rules were first introduced in 2008, only on-field umpires could ask for review replays. Until 2014, when managers were allowed one challenge at a game too! 

During the 2015 season, replay reviews went through some modifications again. Managers, then could retain their challenge after every overturned call. They didn’t have to go to the umpire on the field during an inning. By this time, only a signal was enough to call for a challenge. 

It was also during this time when other leagues were permitted to have any game. One new edition – Tag-up plays were also added to the list of calls.  

The following year in 2016, the slide rules were changed in MLB seasons. The slide rules to recess a double play were improvised in 2016. In addition to that, all force plays were available to review. For example, when a fielder gets in contact with the second base while turning a double play also became reviewable. 

Slide Rules in Baseball: 

According to Slide Rule, baserunners on the field can’t use a ‘roll block’ or establish contact with the fielder by certain gestures. Runners can’t elevate or kick their leg above the fielder’s knee nor throw their arm or their upper body to grab the fielder. 

At the beginning of the 2017 season, no more new replay rules were implemented in the field. But one decision was passed on to the replay officials. It was advised that they pass on their decision on a replay review within two minutes. However, for special case scenarios, some exceptionals were approved. 

Here is a short brief history of MLB Replay Rules. In the 2023 Season, MLB Replay Rules went through significant changes. Description in the next section below. 

MLB’s New Replay Rules 

MLB’s New Replay Rules 

Major League Baseball introduced new replay rules a few months ago. For the 2023 MLB seasons, managers’ hands are full of new directions. 

The new MLB replay rules have proven to speed up the ongoing match and remove time-consuming delays. In the past, baseball matches were delayed by at least several minutes due to replay sessions. 

So, what are the new changes? Are they in favor of the players, managers, or spectators? 

Brian Snitker, Braves manager seemed quite affirmative about the new MLB Replay Rules saying, 

These are the kind of things that tell you why we’re starting this right now. You never know what might happen. That instance right there shows you what could happen.

However, unlike Brian Snitker, the new rule didn’t wait too long to raise concern among other team managers. They are mostly concerned that the changes in the replay rules will bring more pause during the match. 

MLB’s New Replay Rules Explained

Here we have summarized the new replay rules. Keep reading to get the details: 

1) Managers Hold Up Their Hands 

Previously, managers have to wait 10 seconds to decide whether to make a call or not (with the signal). However, MLB noticed that and found out 10 seconds were merely carried out and it was only consuming additional time! 

Hence, the new rules in replays allowed the managers to hold up their hands immediately after a match to signal the umpires. They can let the umpires know in a moment, that they are thinking of a challenge. 

Managers had different reactions to holding hands upright. Brandon Hyde, Orioles Manager said, 

“I think you’re going to have to hold (your hand up) on almost every close play. I mean, hold it (up) right away — and then just (review) it if it’s obvious. But the (confusing) plays are going to be the ones where, with the naked eye, you can’t tell, because it looks ‘obvious safe’ or it looks ‘obvious out.’ But then you get the phone call five seconds later from your video guy, and you might not have held the hand up.”

You see! Managers are just 5 seconds away from getting the phone call for a video review!

2) 30s Replay Clock 

Based on the new MLB Replay Rules, when the manager raises his hand, he has exactly 15 seconds to challenge. The umpire will start a 30-second replay clock once he finds a signal from the manager. 

The manager will then have to decide before the call goes to zero. Any challenge request will be denied after the clock hits zero. 

To successfully implement these rules, MLB reached all 30 managers via a video conference and cleared that, the 30 seconds replay clock has to be strictly followed. 

3) Umpire Stays on The Field

Managers had 10 seconds before decision-making and 20 seconds to decide whether to challenge or not. But these rules were never prosecuted and in most cases, the umpire reached the dugout to talk to the manager. 

The new rule passed and it demands that the umpires will stay on the field. No more secret conversation! The manager will straight receive a call from the video guy and call for a challenge as it was in 2014. Both teams get one challenge per game and they get to challenge again provided the previous call is overturned. 

4) Live Seat to Replays

Baseball matches are often telecasted to Apple TV+ or other MLB networks. Now, viewers can get a live telecast to the MLB’s Replay Center. However, if a replay game requires more explanation, former employers like Brian Gorman or Dale Scott will come forward to explain. The audience deserves transparency and MLB is getting them that. 

Now, there will be no more stretching of the game due to replays and replay decisions. This will save the match several minutes. You can easily grab a Coke on your way home! 

Managers’ Reaction to New Replay Rules

Does the new rule in favor of the baseball managers? How do they react to the new baseball rules? Find out the answers below.

What managers fear most is they will get more missed calls. Nobody would notice them with raising hands; that the replay specialist may not get the camera on time to announce the request. Buck Showalter said, 

We had three or four calls last year that was something where nobody could even see them, with the naked eye, on the field, But he saw it and called up and said, ‘Hey, hold on. We’ve got it.’ That’s Harrison. ” 

Opposing the change in replay rules, he said, “But now, Showalter said, “the ability for Harrison to call up is gone. Now we have to initiate everything. So what you’re going to see a lot is everybody stopping. We’re going to stop every play.”

“It’s made it tougher on the manager. That’s for sure,” Showalter added, “We’ve got even less time now. That’s what’s tough. And New York has as much time if not more. … But it’s all about the pace of the game. So we actually have less time, when you do the math, than we’ve ever had.”

Fair enough from Showwalter’s perspective. Does it really seem like this new rule had failure potential? We believe, it does save some time and catches up with the momentum to the finish line. 

How Much Time Do New Replay Rules Save?

Can change in the MLB replay rules spare some time in the field? Will criticism be withdrawn by the success of new rules? Here’s what we think, 

There is no exact calculation of how shorter the games are now. Last year in 2022, we had 2430 games played in that season with … you won’t believe it! Just 1,434 reviews. The average time taken for these reviews was only 1 minute 31 seconds – from the moment manager challenges to when the umpire declares the review verdict to the ballpark public address system.

However, that doesn’t count the decision time to hold their hands upright. There are still no official numbers on how much time the managers have for their video assistant to tell them when to raise their hands.
But it can approximately take 30 seconds per play. Additionally, 10-15 seconds to raise their hands and aware the umpire that they were about to challenge their decision. 

Don’t get lost in numbers. Here’s the final catch, MLB believes that the new rule will cut them short about 30 seconds per review from 45 extra seconds to 15 seconds only. 

However, talk about the reality and there is no way possible to cover 6-12 angles in 14 seconds. Thus, it is obvious that managers are more likely to challenge the most clear-and-cut call against any high-leverage game. 

New MLB Replay Rules: A Blessing or Disaster? 

The Phillies’ Rob Thomson said, “I always put my hand up real quick. So it’s not going to affect me at all.

Boston’s Alex Cora said, “It’s always been the same process for us. I always put my hand up right away. So this doesn’t change that. I mean, obviously, it’s less time. But you get used to it, you know?”

Cora also thinks, “I feel like it’s actually better. If it’s up to me, it should be on us. Just make every decision with the naked eye.” 

While many managers are in favor of the new replay rules, there are also those who pretty much dislike the new replay rules and find them not so progressive for baseball. 

One veteran manager said that “If this is what they want, they should do it differently,” he also added, “If they’re going to go faster, they should give you more challenges.

So, what do you think about the new rules in MLB replay? Does it fit the game development or do the managers really deserve more challenge? Let us know in the comment section and also, share this article with your baseball friends to start a discussion. 


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John Means

John Means is a professional baseball player who has played in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics. He made his major league debut with the Royals in 2009. He was traded to the Athletics in 2012. Baseball is his favorite sport. His passion about the game is evident in his play. Now he write blogs about baseball and other things whenever he has some free time. LinkedIn

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