Replay Debate Again Takes Center Stage After Missed Call In WS Game Three
MLB instant replay once again has become a major issue following a significant blown call at first base by umpire Ron Kulpa during Game Three of the World Series Saturday night. However, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre, both part of the commissioner's ongoing Special Committee for On-Field Matters, again said yesterday they are hesitant to implement blanket changes anytime soon. "The overriding principle remains to do what's right and be careful to not react to one specific thing," Selig said. "This is a different sport ... and I remain very concerned about the pace of the game." Torre said he does not want for the panel, and MLB in general, to be seen as stubborn on this issue. And to that end, he said he is keeping an open mind on the increased use of technology. But similar to Selig's concern about pace of game, Torre said, "Wholesale replay is going to disrupt the flow of the game." He added that more replay "isn't going to stop players and managers from arguing calls." Still, additional components to the replay system, particularly with regard to fair and foul boundary calls, are likely to be created. Torre additionally took particular issue with a pool reporter question posed Saturday night to Kulpa inquiring whether his growing up in St. Louis entered into the blown call. "Are they going to miss plays? Sure, they are going to miss plays. Are they going to miss pitches? Sure, they are going to miss pitches," Torre said. "But last night that question hinted at questioning somebody's integrity. That was so far over the line." Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, also part of the On-Field Matters committee, said additions are likely needed to ease the burden on increasingly pressured umpires. "They've got so much on their plate, and right now they'll catch as much heat as any manager for making or not making a move," LaRussa said (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Rangers manager Ron Washington said that he "would be in favor of some sort of expanded instant replay in the World Series, but not in the regular season." Washington: "I don't want to be having everything replayed (in the regular season). It could be imposed in the World Series because of the magnitude of the game." Washington previously "has not been in favor of replay" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 10/23).
ALCOHOL BAN CONSIDERED: Torre yesterday said that MLB is considering a leaguewide ban on alcohol in team clubhouses following this month's controversy involving Red Sox players drinking at Fenway Park. "It's something we're concerned about," Torre said. "I have some plans to talk to people. I'm going to look at it and find the best way to approach it. I have no trouble talking about that behavior." Nearly half of MLB teams already have bans on alcohol in their clubhouses. Rules, however, are typically relaxed after games and during flights. "We're up there and we're role models, or we should be role models for the youngsters and how they behave" (Fisher). Selig added that the "clubhouse drinking by the Sox was something that bothered him." Selig: "You never like to hear that. I'm very image-conscious about the sport and that's a great, proud franchise" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/24).
UPDATE ON CBA TALKS: Selig said CBA talks with the MLBPA continue to be "productive" and meetings continue to be held regularly, including another session yesterday. But he declined to put a specific timetable on when a final deal might arrive. A new agreement is anticipated within several weeks, according to several industry sources. The current five-year pact expires Dec. 11 (Fisher). Selig said the issues MLB would like to see addressed in the new CBA are “competitive balance, slotting and a worldwide draft.” He said the bottom 12 teams in MLB “have been disadvantaged” and that “wasn’t the purpose of the draft.” Meanwhile, Selig said he wants to go to blood testing for HGH in MLB. Selig: "I want to pat us on the back. I’ve been doing that in the minor leagues. It’s worked very successfully … and I want to bring that to the major leagues. … It’ll be another step in our program of how we’ve dealt with all these things. We’re in negotiations" (MLB Network, 10/21). Selig added that realignment "before the 2012 season remains unlikely ... but there is a tentative schedule for the possibility in 2013." He said that he would "like to see expanded playoffs, despite the dramatic final day of the regular season." USA TODAY's Peter Barzilai notes the drama that resulted in the Rays and Cardinals making the postseason when the Red Sox and Braves lost "would have been absent with an expanded playoff format" (USA TODAY, 10/24).
HAPPY WITH ALL-STAR GAME FORMAT: Selig said that despite the Cardinals being the wild-card team and having home-field advantage in the World Series, he is still “happy” with the system of rewarding home-field advantage to the league that wins the All-Star Game. He said, “There was no great way to do it. ... I like this. Players play hard. We’re doing more by the way. We’ll do more for next year to make sure we have better representation.” Selig noted there could be an announcement about changes to the All-Star Game and with regards to the issue of players not showing up to the game after being named to the team, Selig said, “I will expect everybody to be there" (MLB Network, 10/21).
DEADLINE GIVEN IN EPSTEIN DEAL: In Boston, Peter Abraham reports Selig "has given the Red Sox and Cubs a Nov. 1 deadline to determine compensation" for Theo Epstein. If a deal is not agreed to by the deadline, Selig "will step in and mediate." Epstein officially resigned as Red Sox GM Friday to become Cubs President of Baseball Operations. He will "negotiate the compensation for his services with his successor with the Sox, Ben Cherington." The two teams "have suspended talks until Epstein is introduced in Chicago tomorrow and Cherington officially takes over in Boston" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/24). Selig said, "They have until Nov. 1, Theo and Ben and all the other parties involved. Hopefully they can get things done. I always encourage clubs to try to get things done between themselves. ... They either get it done or they won't. If they don't, then I will" (Fisher).
GRIFFEY HONORED: Selig yesterday gave his Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award to former MLBer Ken Griffey Jr. In addition to a HOF-caliber on-field career, Selig lauded Griffey for "staying out of controversy," and playing an instrumental role in active players wearing uniform No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day. The uniform tradition first seen in '07, is now an annual staple each April 15. "I hope the next generation of players emulate Ken Griffey Jr.," Selig said. Griffey is the 12th recipient of the award since its formation in '98 and first since Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, in '07 (Fisher). Griffey said, "It's very humbling. One of the things I said to Bud when he told me was, 'Are you sure,' and he said yes. ... The hands of a lot of people hold part of that trophy other than mine" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/24).