In baseball, there have always been two options for plays on the bases: safe or out. Next season, there likely will be another possibility: a challenge by the manager.
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that it planned to greatly expand instant replay, starting in 2014, with managers holding the option to challenge calls they believe the umpire missed. An umpiring crew watching video at major league headquarters in New York will have the final say on such plays, taking the burden off the umpires on the field.
“This is a historic moment for baseball,” John Schuerholz, president of the Atlanta Braves, told reporters at a meeting of team owners in Cooperstown, N.Y. “We have moved forward with a plan that will give our managers an opportunity to help control the calls that are made that impact their team.”
Not all calls will be eligible to be challenged. The field umpires, for instance, will still have the final call on balls and strikes, hit batters and checked swings. But if baseball’s proposal passes a formal vote of the owners in November — and meets with approval from the umpires and the players’ union, which have long been in favor of such advancements — fewer games should be decided by missed calls.
Home run calls by umpires have been reviewable since 2008, but even with the addition of that wrinkle, baseball has remained a sport in which mistakes by umpires were generally accepted as part of the game. In 2010, umpire Jim Joyce cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game by blowing a call at first base on what would have been the final out. Galarraga smiled after the play, and the two men eventually wrote a book together.
Under the new system, that same call could be challenged and overturned. The spontaneity of the moment — right or wrong — would be lost in favor of the more basic goal: that the final call is the correct one.
“We really tried to honor the legacy of the game, and mostly recognize that we’ve got technology that’s improving quickly, and we had a good experience with the home run and boundary replays,” former manager Tony La Russa, an adviser to Major League Baseball, said in a telephone interview Thursday. “It makes the competition more like it’s supposed to be, that the team that plays best and executes best has the best chance to win.”
Schuerholz and La Russa developed the proposal with Joe Torre, the former player and manager who is now an executive vice president with MLB. For years baseball had been content to let the other major sports implement extensive replay, choosing to preserve the status quo and not risk adding to the already troublesome length of games.
Jim Duquette, a former general manager of the New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles, said that when substantial replay was proposed at a league meeting 15 years ago, more than three-quarters of the teams opposed it. In 2004, Duquette said, he tried to get the idea on the agenda of a baseball rules committee, which refused to discuss it.
“There was no feeling we needed to change,” said Duquette, now a host on MLB Network Radio. “But if we couldn’t get replay with John Schuerholz, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre on the committee, we were never going to get it. You can’t get better credibility than those three have.”
BASEBALL to expand REPLAY?
Baseball is proposing to expand video replay and allow managers to challenge “reviewable plays” in 2014. The proposal must be approved by 75 percent of owners, the players’ union and umpires. The highlights:
• One challenge allowed over the first six innings of a game.
• Two challenges from the seventh inning until the completion of the game.
• Challenges not used in the first six innings will not carry over, but a manager who wins a challenge will retain it.
• The home run replay rules currently in use will be continued in the new system.
• Officials at MLB offices in New York will review video replays, not umpires on site.
Source: The Associated Press