SBD/May 17, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

After Further Review: Torre "Hopeful" League Will Expand Replay System For '14

MLB umpires were involved in a spate of high-profile gaffes earlier this month
MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre on Thursday said he is "hopeful" of the league implementing expanded instant replay for the '14 season, with the scope of potential changes now enlarged to include everything outside of ball-strike calls. Speaking at the conclusion of quarterly owners meetings in N.Y., Torre said the future possibilities regarding replay have now moved far beyond a previously debated move toward including trap plays and fair/foul calls down the lines. He also acknowledged MLB umpires "have had a bad week or so" following a recent spate of high-profile gaffes, but added those mistakes are not motivating the larger replay talks (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "initially wanted to add trap plays and fair/foul calls down the lines for 2013, but change was put off while more radical options were examined." But Selig Thursday said, "My opinion has evolved." The AP's Robert Blum reported while initially "assigned to a large 'special committee for on-field matters' that Selig established in 2009, replay recommendations will now come from a subcommittee" of Torre, former MLB manager Tony La Russa and Braves President John Schuerholz, who is chairing the group. The group is "examining whether to have replay officials in booths at ballparks or at a central location, and whether to have umpires wear headsets, as soccer officials do." Torre is "against giving managers a challenge system, as NFL coaches have, but says opinion is split" (AP, 5/16).

MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL: Torre said, "There are a lot of hurdles. We're just trying to do what makes sense for the game. You could start replaying stuff from the first inning on and time the game by your calendar. That could be crazy. We have a rhythm in this game that we don't want to disrupt. One of the decisions we want to make is how much of this do we want to do without really disrupting and putting people to sleep" (MLB.com, 5/16). FOXSPORTS.com's Jon Paul Morosi noted Schuerholz, La Russa and Torre "must believe there is a solution to the replay question, or they wouldn’t have accepted the subcommittee assignment." Selig "wouldn’t have brought them before this week’s assembly unless he was confident the owners would be receptive to their recommendations" (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/16). But in Denver, Mark Kiszla writes under the header, "Baseball Might Not Be Making Right Call With Instant Replay." An MLB game "already takes three hours to play way too often." Kiszla: "We've got pitchers stepping off the mound to listen to their gold chain shake, batters constantly fine-tuning a batting glove as if it was Springsteen's guitar, and now we're going to have an umpire squinting into a TV monitor?" (DENVER POST, 5/17).

IN OTHER NEWS: League attendance is down 3%, with 22 rainouts thus far, exceeding the number for all of last season. But Selig said he is "optimistic" the league can rebound from that decline, particularly as more makeup games are played in warmer weather. "We've played a lot of games in bad weather, painfully bad weather," Selig said. "It's still May the 16th. I'm not overly concerned." This year's schedule, like many prior years, has been the subject of widespread criticism. But Selig said there are few feasible tweaks that can be made, particularly with the advent of everyday interleague play. "There simply isn't much we can do," Selig said....The Dodgers still have not formally submitted their proposed $8B TV deal with Time Warner for league approval, but the team and MLB execs continue to discuss the parameters of the deal and revenue sharing implications....MLB Exec VP/Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred said the league and the MLBPA are currently engaged in "active discussions" regarding a worldwide player draft. Much like his practice during larger CBA negotiations, Manfred declined to characterize the state of the talks. But the parties face a June 1 deadline before expanded spending restrictions on international signing bonuses go into effect....The league is still aiming to open next season overseas, with games in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Australia among the possibilities (Fisher).
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