Major League Baseball Seen Expanding Video Replay Next Season

Major League Baseball may have an expanded video replay system in place for next season, Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre said today.

Torre presented team owners with an update on replay at meetings held the last two days in New York, an agenda item that received added focus after two mistakes by umpires in the past week drew criticism from the commissioner’s office.

“We’re just trying to do what makes sense for the game,” Torre said at a news conference. “You could start replaying stuff from the first inning on and then time the game by your calendar. We have rhythm in this game that we don’t want to disrupt.”

Torre said technology has to complement what MLB wants to implement and decisions still have to be made on how extensively replay would be used. Currently, replay is only used to review home runs -- whether they’re fair or foul, cleared the fence or were subject to fan interference.

“Right now it’s just trying to make a decision on how to go about it and what we think is most important to take a look at,” Torre said. “We’re hopeful that replay will be in place by 2014.”

Torre said the only thing not being considered for expanded review is judgment calls by umpires such as balls and strikes. Tag and trap plays may be reviewed, as could balls hit down the foul lines, with baseball looking at employing a system similar to that used by tennis on line calls.

Improper Call

On May 9, MLB said umpires had made an “improper call” by disallowing a game-tying home run by the Oakland Athletics against the Cleveland Indians. The umpiring crew determined that video evidence wasn’t convincing enough to overturn the ruling on the field of a double, even though television replays showed the ball hit a metal railing several feet above the left-field fence and ricochet onto the field.

“I’ve been approached many times with people saying, ‘Why don’t you just put a couple guys in the booth and that should solve it?’” Torre said about calls for baseball having a separate replay official. “Well, this past week we had three umpires look at the replay and they got it wrong, unfortunately. It’s not always that easy.”

Two days after the mistake in the Oakland-Cleveland game, MLB suspended umpire Fieldin Culbreth for two games for failing to follow the rules involving replacing pitchers in a game between the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros. Expanded replay wouldn’t have played a role in that case.

Torre said he hopes to have specific replay proposals to present at the next league meeting in August and that whatever system is implemented won’t be a “knee-jerk thing.”

“We just can’t throw something to somebody and say, ‘Here, we’re going to do this tomorrow,” Torre said. “We need to make sure when we do roll it out that we’re prepared and training is a part of it.”

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