SBD/April 15, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

La Russa Happy With Early Results On MLB's Replay System, But Concerns Still Exist

La Russa acknowledged some issues, but is surprised there haven't been more
After two weeks and 185 games of the MLB season, there have been 84 calls reviewed under the league's new replay system, and of those, 28 calls (33%) "have been reversed," according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who serves on a replay subcommittee of Commissioner Bud Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters, said, "We need to keep working at it. I don't know what the period of time is, whether it's a month or six weeks or whatever it is, but we have all learned from what we've seen. ... The process has been really remarkable in how well it's worked so far. I'm amazed, in fact, that we haven't had more hiccups" (ESPN.com, 4/14). La Russa added, “They’re grinding through these reviews, so overall we've gotten off to a really good start." But he admitted there have been "some hiccups, there have been some problems." La Russa: "We’re working on it. We’re identifying things that can get better. We think the timing has been pretty decent right now. We have some coming in right at a minute, a little over a minute and some have been prolonged, but I think overall we are on the right path” (“MLB Now,” MLB Network, 4/14). MLB.com’s Richard Justice said, “There are people at Major League Baseball that have poured their hearts and souls into this for two years and they’ve said, ‘It’s a work in progress, we’re going to try and get it right as often as we can and we’re going to tweak it along the way.’ I think that’s what we are going to see” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 4/14).

DO THE RIGHT THING: In Seattle, Larry Stone writes under the header, "Replay Is The Right Call For Baseball, Even If It's Taking A While To Get It Right." There have been some "clunky, time-consuming reviews; unnecessary reviews instituted merely because the manager had a challenge to burn; and challenges that couldn’t be issued because the manager had already burned the one he had." However, the "most troubling" aspect has been the "(apparent) incorrect calls meted out after the replays had been scrutinized back at the command center in New York." Stone: "After all, that was the point of the whole thing in the first place: Get it right." Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon on Sunday said, "I’m really worried about where we’re headed with replay and the effect it’s having on the games and the effect it’s having on the fans.” Stone: "I'm right with him. Not worried enough to scrap the system, mind you." One thing that is "not so complex, and must be fixed, pronto, is making sure" that the $30M Replay Operations Center has "access to the same television angles as home viewers" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/15). MLB Network’s Cliff Floyd: "Instant replay is going to work. You have some kinks right now and I think that’s a part of any new system, but at the end of the day, you are getting these calls right that in the past we have seen get called wrong” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 4/14). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, "Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. I felt like they were so concerned with finding a perfect system ... that they weren't just willing to settle for good. This is good. This is better than not having anything." He added, "They got far more calls wrong without the replay than they will with. Will they have to iron out a few wrinkles in this? Yes. Is it ideal? No. But life isn't about perfect. Life isn't a game of perfect” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/15).

NEED TO SEE EVERYTHING: MLB Network’s Tom Verducci said MLB has to "make sure that those umpires reviewing these plays see the feeds that the fan sees." An issue came up Saturday during the Red Sox-Yankees game where FS1's cameras caught a shot of a runner clearly off second base, but that was not available to the umpires. Verducci: "They have to see the same feeds that the fan sees at home. You can’t have Johnny Six-Pack on the sofa, at home, getting a better look than the umpire making the call. It just can’t happen” ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 4/14). ESPN's Barry Larkin said, "They're supposed to be able to see all the angles to get all of (the) calls right. I would change that for sure" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 4/15).
 
TOO LATE TO GO BACK: In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes the "whole system is new," so there will be "tweaks and improvements." However, MLB has "gone rolling and bouncing and falling down a slippery slope" since the '08 decision to review home runs. The game is "slow enough without making everybody grind even harder, but there's no going back now" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/15). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "You cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube. You have to have this system" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/14).
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