SBD/November 15, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB Owners Approve Funding For Expanded Instant Replay, Which Could Begin In '14

MLB's plan must still be approved by the MLBPA and World Umpires Association
MLB on Thursday took another step towards implementing expanded instant replay with "unanimous approval of funding" at the league's quarterly Owners Meetings, according to Paul Hagen of MLB.com. Some details "remain to be worked out before a vote for final implementation at the next scheduled owners meetings, set for Phoenix in January." Additionally, the plan "must still be approved" by the MLBPA and World Umpires Association. However, all indications are that the new system "will be up and running in time for the opening of the upcoming season." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "Unless there's something I'm missing right now, we're going to have replay in 2014." MLB COO Rob Manfred said that the "'contours' of the new system -- a manager challenge system, all replays reviewed out of MLB Advanced Media's offices in New York, umpires on the field communicating with the review officials via headphones -- are pretty well established." But Hagen reported there still is "much to nail down." There will be "one set of challenges for the entire game, although it's still to be determined whether each manager will get one or two challenges." It also "hasn't been decided how many replay officials would be in New York" (MLB.com, 11/14). USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported owners were told that a "good chunk of the instant replay funding should be provided by commercial sponsorships during breaks" (TWITTER.com, 11/14).

WHAT WOULD EARL WEAVER THINK? In Newark, Andy McCullough writes expanded replay "figures to eliminate two elements of the game’s lore: First, the annual kvetching of fans about the state of umpiring in the game. And second, the age-old pastime of managers arguing calls" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/15). Manfred said that if a manager "comes out of the dugout to argue a call, he will lose the ability to contest a play." SPORTSNET.ca's Shi Davidi noted the goal is to "prevent managers from arguing to buy time for someone to check a replay ahead of a review request, but also to keep challenges from delaying the game." So rather than "watching managers engage in a pointless argument, the time would instead be used to ensure the correct decision was made" (SPORTSNET.ca, 11/14). USA TODAY's John Perrotto noted the new system will "likely end most manager/umpire arguments because if a manager disagrees with a reviewable call, his only recourse would be to use a challenge." About the "only situation where a manager could still argue would [be] in situations not open to review, such as defending a player or questioning an improper substitution" (USATODAY.com, 11/14).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes whether or not people will like expanded instant replay all depends on "how quickly replays will be decided during games that already are taking much too long to play." It also depends on "how intrusive this will all be." One team owner said, "It's expensive, but worth it." Cafardo notes MLB likely is looking at "a two-year experimentation phase, in which it will accumulate data on what works and what doesn't." The system will "be tweaked along the way" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/15). CBSSN's Allie LaForce said, "If they can do it quickly, I don’t have a problem with it." However, she admitted she is "going to miss managers getting upset and stomping their way out to the mound and causing big scenes.” CBSSN’s Tony Luftman noted some people are worried about this adding to the lenght of games, but he said, "The integrity of the game trumps the length of the game” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 11/14).

DIFFERING OPINIONS: MLB.com's Richard Justice wrote MLB on Thursday "changed in a very fundamental way, changed for the better." The league believes that  it has "found a balance, one in which the calls will be reviewed without delaying games" (MLB.com, 11/14). Orioles manager Buck Showalter called expanded replay "long overdue" and said, "After a year or two we’ll wonder what in the world we’ve waited so long for” ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 11/14). Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said, "This will be good for the game" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/15). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz wrote, "I love the idea of replay as an umpiring tool. I hate the idea of making it a gimmick. But I see no reason why MLB insists on turning the new system into a Japanese game show in which contestants (managers) are each given a maximum of two replay challenges per game" (STLTODAY.com, 11/14). FoxSports.com's Bill Reiter said, “I love that there was human error on the field. I hate instant replay. ... That’s some of the beauty of the game” (“Rome, CBSSN, 11/14). ESPN.com's Christina Kahrl cautioned against the new plan under the header, "Throwing A Challenge Flag On Replay." Will MLB "demand a universal standard that cannot be altered from park to park?" If not, fans could "wind up with park-tailored and network-aided ranges of possibility, differing from ballpark to ballpark." Kahrl: "Does that sound fair?" (ESPN.com, 11/14).
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