A lot can happen during a baseball game, and sometimes a team can feel like the umpire made an unfair call. That is when a coach or, in this case, a team manager can challenge a play. In baseball, this process is called a Manager Challenge, and a manager has limited chances to challenge a call during a game. But have you ever wondered how often baseball managers can challenge a play? I wondered the same thing and I wanted to share everything I learned about how many challenges are in baseball.
Baseball managers are allowed to challenge one play during a regular season MLB game and two challenges during All-Star, playoffs, and tiebreaker games. However, baseball managers receive another challenge for every overturned call.
This means baseball managers could have an unlimited amount of challenges if they keep winning their challenges.
Prior to the 2014 MLB season, managers were not allowed to call for instant replays to challenge a play. Only the umpire crew could use replay to review a call. However, there have been several changes in the instant replay rules in the MLB, and the below rules are the most important and recent rules you should know.
- MLB Instant Replay Rules
- Baseball Manager Could Have An Unlimited Number of Challenges
- How Does a Baseball Manager Challenge a Play?
- What Happens After a Manager Challenges a Play in Baseball?
- Which Calls Can a Baseball Manager Challenge?
- How Many Calls Can a Manager Challenge in a Single Play?
- What Happens When a Manager Uses Up All His Challenges?
MLB Instant Replay Rules
- In regular season MLB games, managers get one challenge per game. They get two challenges per game in All-Star, playoffs, and wild card tiebreaker games.
- Managers retain their challenge if it is ruled in their favor, meaning they can challenge multiple calls in a single play without losing their challenge.
- A manager only has 20 seconds to dispute a play before they lose their chance to challenge it.
- The umpire chief crew can challenge any eligible play after the 8th inning.
- An umpire crew stationed in New York City decides the outcome of an instant replay. The crew has two minutes to determine if the call stands or changes.
Baseball Manager Could Have An Unlimited Number of Challenges
With the ways the instant replay rules for MLB are written, a manager could theoretically use an unlimited number of challenges in a game.
The rule states that when a manager wins their challenge, they get to keep their challenge. This means that if a manager wins 40 challenges in a row, they can still challenge another play.
However, once a baseball manager loses the call, they are unable to continue making challenges. This means that if a manager wins 40 challenges in a row and then loses their 41st challenge, they are unable to challenge any other plays during that game.
How Does a Baseball Manager Challenge a Play?
When a manager wants to challenge a call, the first thing they have to do is notify the umpire. Previously, managers had to walk out into the field to let the umpire know, but this changed in 2015.
Today, a manager can challenge a call from the dugout by signaling to the umpire. A manager can still approach the umpire in the field, but since they only have 20 seconds, it is better to use the signal (especially if you’re a vintage manager.)
When a manager challenges an umpire’s call, they are not required to point out what is wrong with the call. The most important thing is to know the exact call they want to challenge. Pointing out the issue might not be in the team’s best interest, as the manager could be wrong.
Additionally, the replay officials have the luxury of replaying a video multiple times to review the call, so they are in a much better position to make a judgment.
What Happens After a Manager Challenges a Play in Baseball?
After notifying the umpire that they want to challenge a call, a team of off-duty umpires and other professionals in the Replay Command Center in New York review the call.
Once they review the call, they have two minutes to confirm the umpire’s call in the game, change it or let it stand due to insufficient evidence.
The following scenarios are possible:
- If the replay official decides to change the call on the field, they have the right to place the players in both teams in the position they would have been had the umpire’s call been correct.
- If a call is overturned, a manager’s decisions influenced by the incorrect call are all nullified. However, they can re-strategize their play based on the new decision.
- A replay official’s decision is final and cannot be protested. Any protesters on the field who disagree with the replay official’s decision will be removed.
Which Calls Can a Baseball Manager Challenge?
Historically, only the umpire crew chief could challenge a call, and the only call they could challenge was a home run.
Thankfully, there have been several adjustments to the rules, and now a manager can challenge several types of calls.
The types of plays a baseball manager can challenge include:
- Catch plays in the outfield
- Force/tag plays
- Home plate collisions
- Home runs
- Interference on double plays
- Non-home boundary calls
- Placement of runners
- Specific baserunning calls
- Specific fair/foul ball calls
How Many Calls Can a Manager Challenge in a Single Play?
Although a manager gets one challenge per game, there is no limit to how many calls they can challenge in a single play. This means that in one play, a manager can challenge multiple calls made by the umpires.
Even though a manager can challenge several calls in one play, they cannot challenge the same call twice (like baseball’s own Double Jeopardy clause). For example, a manager who wants to challenge a home run in a play can only ask for a review of that specific home run call once.
Remember, a replay official’s decision on a challenge is final, and it is against the rules for a manager to protest or argue with the official’s final decision.
What Happens When a Manager Uses Up All His Challenges?
When a manager finishes their challenges in a game, they can no longer dispute an umpire’s call in the game. However, a manager can politely ask an umpire crew chief to confirm the call with another umpire. The umpire may or may not talk to another umpire to confirm the call, but managers are still allowed to ask.
However, there are a few special occasions where managers get two challenges in a game.
Remember, a manager only gets one challenge in an MLB season game but gets two in other games, like All-Stars, Playoffs, and tiebreakers. Therefore, if a manager uses up one challenge in any of these games, they are left with one more. If they use both challenges, they can still politely request an umpire to challenge a call on their behalf.
A crew chief can also call for a review without a manager’s request at any point in the game. However, this only applies to potential home run calls.