Owners will be presented with proposal that would expand replay to every phase of game, besides balls and strikes
If they approve, MLB will being process of negotiating plans with MLBPA and umpires union for 2014
Cameras will have to get set up at every park; cost will start between $25-$40 million, according to MLB executive
(PhatzRadio / USA Today) — COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — You asked for it. Actually, you demanded it.
Well, be careful what you wish for, because if Major League Baseball owners like what they hear today, the sport could be poised to make its most sweeping technological change since the introduction of night games.
The owners are scheduled to be presented with a proposal that would expand instant replay into virtually every phase of the game.
Replay has been used since 2008 on boundary home run calls. But under this new plan, each play would be open to review, with the exception of the calls of balls and strikes.
“Arguments will be still part of the game,” former manager Tony La Russa told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “We’re not going to eliminate that. But I think if (instant replay) is done carefully, and recognizing how it can be done effectively and efficiently, it will be good for the game.
“If the owners want to move forward, I’m all for it.”
Future Hall of Fame managers Joe Torre and La Russa, who are now MLB vice presidents, along with Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, who also could be joining them in the 2014 Hall of Fame class, will present their comprehensive studies and recommendations to the owners.
If the owners approve, MLB will begin the process of negotiating the plan’s implementation with the Major League Baseball Players Association and the umpires union for the 2014 season.
This is going to entail more work than turning the Houston Astros into a playoff contender again.
Elaborate cameras will need to be set up at every ballpark, particularly on the outfield walls.
A monitoring system will need to be established so umpiring crews can check replays with the New York office — likely with a major league umpiring crew standing by — to determine whether the call on the field will stand.
It’s yet to be settled whether managers will be allowed to issue replay challenges, like in the NFL, with a maximum of three replays for each manager a game.
And, oh, yeah, it will be costly.
The start-up fee will be $25 million to $40 million, an MLB executive with knowledge of the plan told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly while negotiations were ongoing.
Do the owners want to cough up that much money, especially when MLB studies reveal there’s an average of three missed calls a night but precious few that impact a game’s outcome?
“I feel like we need it,” Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer, the Tigers’ player representative, told USA TODAY Sports. “This is (an $8) billion industry. And there are millions and millions of dollars riding on these games and the outcome of individual plays. When we have the technology available to get the calls correct, I feel we should take advantage of it.
“But at the same time it’s got to be done in an expedited process. We can’t have the games drag out any longer. They already are 2:45, 3-hour games.
“I like what hockey has done, with one central location. I feel like that if we can expand our replay on these bang-bang plays, whether it’s a manager’s challenge or an umpire looking at it quickly, I think it benefits the game.”
If you ask the umpires, they’re for instant replay, too.
You blow a call in the NFL, and it’s overturned immediately and no one remembers the referee’s name. You blow a call in baseball, and you are ridiculed on national TV so often, you feel like seeking shelter in Wyoming.
The infamous missed call by Don Denkinger in the 1985 World Series still lurks in every umpire’s memory, along with the ensuing death threats and need for police protection.
Can you imagine if it happened in today’s social media age?
“Nobody wants to leave the field knowing they made a mistake out there,” veteran chief umpire Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association, told USA TODAY Sports. “This group of umpires today are more conscientious of getting things correct than ever before. Umpires want everything they can to help them.”
The biggest issue with expanded replay is the delays it could create. Baseball has made efforts over the years to reduce the time of games, but if replay is not done properly, well, the New York bars could be closed by the time a Yankees-Red Sox game finally ends.
“There are a lot of hurdles,” Torre said at the All-Star Game. “You could start replaying stuff from the first inning on, and then time the game by your calendar. That would be crazy. We have a rhythm in this game that we certainly don’t want to disrupt.
“One of the decisions we have to make is how much do we want to do without really disrupting and putting people to sleep?”
Will we ever see a stolen-base attempt at second that’s not challenged?
Then again, it sure beats the alternative of folks screaming into the night about a blown call that changes the outcome of a game.
“I respect the umpires and all they do,” says Scherzer, who leads the major leagues in victories, “but they are dealt an impossible job to get these calls right.
“I just feel it’s time to give them some help.”
So the umpires want more replay. And so do the players, managers and fans.
But it’s not their money that will finance it. It will be come out of the owners’ pockets.
That means part of the equation is convincing them that instant replay will be worth the millions of dollars to them.
“I’m optimistic,” La Russa says.
“I’m pessimistic,” says one owner, who didn’t want to be publicly identified while talks continue.
Go right ahead, you make the call.
MLB: Expansion of MLB replay a major task is a post from: PhatzRadio.com
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