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Major League Baseball first introduced instant replay reviews in 2008. At that time, teams were not allowed to challenge calls on the field – only umpires could make the decision to review a play. Nowadays, however, manager challenges are quite common in baseball, so you might be wondering how many challenges each team is allowed in a game.
According to MLB instant replay review rules, each team receives one challenge per game. If a team uses their challenge successfully, they are granted an additional challenge to use later in the game. A team only loses their ability to challenge if they request a replay review and the call on the field is not overturned.
The umpire crew chief is also permitted to review certain calls without a team challenge. The crew chief can review all calls related to home run boundaries, calls relating to collisions at home plate if it is the seventh inning or later and the team that would otherwise ask for a replay is out of challenges, as well as any calls at all from the eighth inning or later.
This allows the umpires to review important calls even if a team has used up their allotted challenge.
When Did MLB Start Using Instant Replay?
Instant replay was first introduced in 2008, and it was only used to confirm or overturn home run calls. Under the initial replay review rules, the umpire crew chief had full discretion as to whether or not a play would be reviewed. Managers were not allowed to issue challenges themselves.
While the league and the players were interested in expanding the use of instant replay, it took several years before they actually would expand the instant replay rules to cover more plays than just home runs and to allow managers to make their own challenges.
When Did MLB Implement Instant Replay Challenges?
It was not until 2014 that MLB expanded instant replay protocol. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players, replay review was expanded far beyond home run calls, and managers were given the opportunity to challenge calls themselves – no longer were umpires the only ones who could initiate replay reviews.
Under these new rules, managers were given one challenge per game, and they could use it to challenge many different types of calls, including force plays, tag plays, outfield fair/foul calls, and outfield catches. The list of plays that could be reviewed would grow over time, and there is a comprehensive list of calls that can be reviewed with replay on the MLB website.
What Changes Have Been Made Since Replay Review Started in 2014?
During the 2014 season, managers were given one challenge per game, and if they used that challenge successfully, they were granted one additional challenge. However, that second challenge would be their last and final challenge no matter what.
In 2015, that rule was adjusted so that managers would always regain their challenge as long as they used it successfully. In other words, a manager could theoretically have unlimited challenges in a game so long as they were never wrong when they challenged a call.
Other small rule changes in 2015 included allowing managers to challenge tag-up plays and allowing managers to make a challenge from the dugout without approaching the umpire.
If a manager wants to make a challenge, all they need to do is put their hands over their ears to make the “headphones” signal and the umpires will begin the review process. This was implemented to shave a few seconds off the length of the review process, which some thought took too long when it was first introduced.
In 2016, instant replay was expanded once again so that it could also be used to review slides at second and third base during double plays. This was for the purpose of ensuring that all slides adhered to new safety rules.
In addition, as of 2016, teams could also review whether or not a fielder touched second base while recording a double play; this was commonly referred to as “the neighborhood play.”
Do Teams Ever Get More Than One Challenge?
When MLB was first discussing the idea of instant replay challenges, managers were going to be given one challenge each for use during the first six innings, and two challenges to use from the seventh inning and afterward. However, the league and the players ultimately agreed that managers would be granted only one challenge per game.
That being said, if a manager makes a challenge and the call on the field is indeed overturned, the challenge is not lost.
If a team has lost their challenge, they can also request that the umpire crew chief initiate a replay review if the play in question is a potential home run or if it is the eighth inning or later. If it is the seventh inning or later, the crew chief may also initiate a review to see if a play at the plate violated the home plate collision rules.
If you are confused to see a team request a replay review after they have already lost their challenge, the explanation is that the umpire crew chief is technically the person instigating the review – not the team’s manager.
How Does A Manager Make A Challenger?
If a manager wants to challenge a call on the field, the manager must let the umpires know as soon as possible, usually by holding a hand up from the dugout or by walking onto the field. The manager has just ten seconds to decide if they are going to challenge the call.
In order to help decide if they will challenge, each team has a video room in the clubhouse where they review plays. A coach, typically the bench coach, will call the video room as soon as possible and ask if the play warrants a challenge.
In order to officially call for a challenge, the manager must make the headphones hand signal over their ears or approach the umpire on the field.
What Happens After A Manager Makes A Challenger?
Once the manager has officially called for a challenge, two umpires will go into foul territory and put on headsets. Meanwhile, another umpire in the league head office is reviewing the play from every possible angle. That umpire will make the final decision about the play and relay it to the umpires on the field.
The umpires will then remove the headsets, and the crew chief will report the official call. There are three possible outcomes for the challenge: the call on the field is confirmed, the call on the field stands, or the call on the field is overturned. If the call on the field is overturned, the manager regains their challenge.
What Types of Calls Cannot Be Challenged Under MLB Replay Review Rules?
While managers are now allowed to challenge most calls, there are some exceptions. In particular, calls that are a matter of judgment on the umpire’s part are not eligible for review. This includes ball/strike calls, checked swings, and whether or not a player ran out of the basepaths.
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