Upon further review, MLB ready for more replay
Major League Baseball announced intentions to expand the use and style of its instant replay system on Thursday, and big league players and managers -- for the most part -- offered a collective vow of support.
Under the new guidelines presented by MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre to all 30 clubs on the last day of the Owners Meetings, managers will play a more active role in instant replay next year. Those changes still have to be voted on in the next Owners Meeting in November and will also need approval from the Players Association and umpires.
- Oct. 26, 1985: Umpire Don Denkinger misses a crucial call at first base in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between the Royals and Cardinals, helping the Royals to rally and go on to win Game 7. Video
- Oct. 9, 1996: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hits a fly ball to right field, and 11-year-old Jeffrey Maier reaches into the field of play and deflects it into the stands for what is ruled a home run. Video
- Oct. 1, 2007: In a National League Wild Card tiebreaker game between the Padres and Rockies, Colorado's Matt Holliday scores the game-winning run in the 13th inning even though TV replays show him never touching home plate. Video
- June 2, 2010: Detroit's Armando Galarraga loses perfect game when Jason Donald, who would have been the final out, is ruled safe at first base. Video
- July 26, 2011: The Braves' Julio Lugo scores the game-winning run in the 19th inning against the Pirates, even though catcher Michael McKenry appears to make the tag before he touches the plate. Video
The proposed changes would give managers the power to challenge a call that doesn't involve balls or strikes. They would be allowed three challenges -- one in innings one through six, two from the seventh inning forward. Should they successfully challenge a play, the challenge wouldn't count against them and would remain available for later use. The current system of reviewing boundary calls for home runs will remain in place.
"Of course I like it," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "I like flat-screen TVs with high definition. I like air conditioning in my 1956 Bel Air. I like computers.
"That group that argues against technology and advancement, I would challenge them to take away all the technology that makes our lives better. To bury your head in the sand and reference 'old school' all the time is a really poor argument. This is the time. It's our time to make the right decision. Live with it, understand it."
Said Mariners infielder Dustin Ackley: "I don't see why anybody wouldn't be on board with it. Umpires aren't perfect and everybody knows that. It's one of those situations where if we can go to the replay, why not? All the other sports are doing it, so why not go to the replay?"
Braves president John Schuerholz, on the committee that studied the topic of instant replay, noted that -- according to the group's data -- umpires miss one call every five games. In the new setup, managers will be allowed a maximum of three challenges per game.
"That's more than we need," Royals skipper Ned Yost said. "I'm sitting back thinking, probably in the last two weeks or three weeks, I can't think of three calls I would have challenged. But it's still nice to have that ability to do it.
"If you use three challenges in one day, somebody's having a bad day."
Nationals manager Davey Johnson disagreed, citing his penchant for contesting umpires' tough calls.
"The problem with that is there are close calls," said Johnson, who is expected to retire at season's end. "I'd be challenging 20 times a game."
Johnson and other managers could challenge 20 times a game -- as long as they are correct in their challenges. Should a manager win an appeal, he retains the challenge, which is to say further opportunity to challenge remains in place when a call is overturned. The challenge from the first six innings does not carry over.
"I don't like the idea that the earlier part of the game is considered less important than the latter part," Maddon said. "We've lost games in the first inning. I don't know if there are more mistakes in the latter part, but it's difficult for me to try to tell you what the most significant moment in that game will be. I'm into it because I think it's better than not having those things."
Some players and managers suggested all ballparks employ a review official, who can immediately overrule a call if necessary.
"I've said all along they should have a guy in the booth with a replay set right in front of him and he signals yes or no," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "I've always thought that's the quickest way to do it."
The reduction of the "human element" from the game sparked a wealth of opinions from players and managers.
"For a while, I was really against it. I do like the human element," said Boston's Jonny Gomes. "I don't think it's a knock on the umpires, but I think the game is faster than it's ever been. ... With our technology, let's use it."
Said Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan: "It's cool to have some human error in the game, but there's some stuff missed out there that nobody should feel good about."
A's manager Bob Melvin has recently altered his position on the matter.
"My stance on that has probably changed here in the last year or so," Melvin said. "You want to get it right. I was a little bit of a traditionalist before where there's human error involved, but as long as everybody's on the same page with it and the idea is to get it right, then I'm all for that."
Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick appreciates the sanctity of the sport, and he worries how umpires will feel about the new wrinkle.
"Personally, I'm kind of an old-school approach guy," Ludwick said. "I kind of like the fact that we were one of the last sports that had human error involved, and I think there's something beautiful about that.
"I think the better question would be for the umpires. From my standpoint -- I don't know how they feel -- it's kind of taking away from what they do. They've been doing this for over 100 years, and I think those guys do a good job. Do they make some mistakes? Yes, but like I said, that's human error and I think that's the beauty of it. But I'm sure we'll all get used to it and we'll move on."
Ludwick's teammate, Cincinnati hurler Bronson Arroyo, also enjoys the human element. He acknowledges, though, that he could be victim to a missed call in a critical situation.
"Sometimes you start throwing so many different things in the game and you start feeling like it's a bit different than the national pastime that we came up knowing," Arroyo said. "But I'm sure there's going to be some play that I'm going to be thankful that they got it right when I've got bases loaded and some dude, it's bang-bang at some base."
Some Major Leaguers expressed concern about the replay modifications lengthening the time of games. Schuerholz said he expects replays to take only a little more than a minute in the future.
"Games are long anyways. If it takes an extra two minutes, so be it," said Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson. "I think people would rather have the result of the game, which is set in stone after it's finished, be right. I don't think game length should be a consideration."
Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke doesn't mind taking the time to get calls correct.
"It's going to be a lot less lengthy than me going out to argue," Roenicke said.
In the end, even those who have been around the game the longest have started to understand why the idea of expanded instant replay has gained so much steam. Now, it has been put in motion.
"I think it's 2013. I think the fans and everybody else, they want to see it right," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.