Starting next season, managers in Japan will be able to request video reviews of calls on the field of play following a decision on Monday by Nippon Professional Baseball.
Until now, video reviews were restricted to three plays, balls caught against an outfield wall or fence, plays at the plate and potential home runs. These reviews were ostensibly only initiated by the umpires.
Under the request system, potential home runs and safe and out calls on the bases may be challenged. Each team will be able to request reviews until two requests through nine innings have failed to overturn rulings. Teams will be allotted an additional request in extra innings.
Upon receiving a request, the umpires will adjourn to a room under the stands to review video and are expected to make a decision within five minutes.
The system will be put into effect starting next spring in preseason games held at teams’ main stadiums. Starting from the regular season, review requests can be made at all games, regardless of location.
Although the new system will allow managers to instigate reviews, until now such reviews, for all intents and purposes, only occurred after a manager requested one and the umpires held a meeting in front of the mound to discuss whether or not to review a call.
In effect, the new system will change the current situation by expanding the plays covered, limiting the number of rulings teams can have reviewed and eliminating the time wasted by the umpires’ on-field meeting.
The method of requesting a review will change, too. Until now, managers rushed onto the field, waving or gesturing or pointing to get the umpires’ attention. But from next season, managers will stand in front of the dugout and draw a square in the air — as rugby referees do to request a video review from their television match officials.