The long-awaited expansion of baseball's instant replay system has become a reality.
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that owners voted unanimously to subject most calls to instant replay, starting this year, after securing approval from unions representing players and umpires.
For the first time, teams will be allowed to show disputed or controversial plays on stadium video boards -- and not just the plays selected for review.
Under the new replay system, each manager can challenge one play per game. If the challenge is successful, the manager gets one more. In order to speed up the game, managers will be allowed to consult with team video personnel -- with immediate access to replays -- before deciding whether to challenge a play.
If a manager has exhausted his challenges -- and starting in the seventh inning -- the umpires may call for a replay on their own. Replays will be reviewed by umpires at MLB Advanced Media headquarters; the on-site umpires will not have access to replay and will not leave the field.
Calls subject to review include home runs, ground-rule doubles, fan interference, force plays -- except for touching second base on a double play, the so-called neighborhood rule -- tag plays, fly balls ruled fair, foul or trapped balls, whether a runner left a base too early or passed another runner, and whether a batter was hit by a pitch.
“I am very pleased that instant replay will expand to include additional impactful plays,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "The new system will give managers valuable recourse in potentially game-changing situations. The opportunity for our fans to see more replays in our ballparks is also an important modification."