MLB Still Supporting Expanded Replay In '14, But Aware Of Potential Timing Issues
MLB still wants to introduce an expanded form of instant replay for the '14 season and is considering a wide variety of potential implementations, but it is still proceeding cautiously in an effort to avoid negative consequences with regard to pace of play. "We're pretty confident we'll have it in place for 2014," said MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre. "We're still in the tweaking stages. We're not limiting ourselves" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). Torre noted it will be a system where plays "besides home runs can be reviewed." In St. Louis, Rick Hummel notes expected to be "among the additions are boundary calls, i.e., fair or foul balls not involving home runs." But Torre said, “We have a time issue. We don’t want this (replay) thing to drag on because I think people would lose interest, to be honest with you. It would be something of where it could not happen a lot" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/17). Torre: "We've got issues. How much replay do we want? If you start doing it from first inning to the ninth, we might have to time games with a calendar. We don't have built in timeouts like other sports. We have a game with flow and a rhythm to it. ... We don't want to throw something out there and then have to draw it back" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/17).
SCHEDULING CONFLICTS: MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said the players largely hate this year's master schedule, which saw the advent of interleague play every day following the relocation of the Astros to the AL. The new format has helped create some more unusual and taxing travel routings. "The schedule sucks. It really does," Weiner said, vowing the matter will be an important topic in the new round of CBA talks with the league. That said, Weiner added the union remains firmly in favor of the new structure with 15 teams each in the AL and NL. Meanwhile, MLB is still seeking a worldwide draft, even after recent negotiations with the MLBPA to create one starting in '15 did not generate a deal. MLB Exec VP/Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred said the current, interim system for signing international free agents is working well, is well liked by the clubs, and will likely serve as the basis of what will likely be a more phased approach toward a global entry draft (Fisher).
NO NEWS ON MASN: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday "gave no indication that a resolution was imminent or that any progress had even been made of late" despite many "recent conversations with the ownership groups" of the Nationals and Orioles about their ongoing television rights dispute. Selig said, "It’s really a difficult situation but I’m always hopeful that we can work out a resolution.” The Nationals and Orioles have been "deadlocked in discussions about a possible increase in the Nationals’ rights fees from" MASN since the end of the '11 season (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 7/16).
GOING GLOBAL: MLB.com's Paul Hagen noted Selig at the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest yesterday answered "some 25 questions" submitted by fans. Selig talked about the "logistics which prevents the World Baseball Classic from being played sometime other than Spring Training and envisioned a day when the World Series is played against a team from outside North America." Selig: "That's my ultimate goal. It will happen long after I'm gone, but my ultimate goal is to have a real World Series." When asked about the possibility of establishing MLB franchises around the world, he said, "My dream is to some day to have franchises in different locales. Air travel will have to be a little more sophisticated, but that's why we are doing everything internationally" (MLB.com, 7/16).
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: There is still no named successor for Selig when he plans to step down after next year, but he said there have been some internal discussions regarding the matter. Selig: "There's been some conversation, but I can't tell you anything is definitive yet. There will be" (Fisher). MLB Network's Bob Costas said of Selig, "If his tenure had ended in 2000, he would have gotten a C or a C-. His grade has gone up tremendously over the last decade plus. He may have been slow to realize or to get the momentum behind him when it comes to steroids, but clearly now they are very, very serious, and they're sticking with it. And the biggest problem at the turn of the century other than steroids was this tremendous competitive imbalance. And yet they have put now a number of things in place. There's no salary cap, but the payroll tax is holding some teams in check. ... It's so much different than what it was just a decade ago, and you've got to give Bud a lot of credit for that. The revenue sharing as well" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 7/16).
TIME FOR A CHANGE? In Portland, John Canzano writes what has “become increasingly clear in two decades of Selig's ‘leadership’ is that he's woefully out of touch." MLB would be better off with someone with a "broader vision, new ideas and a better connection with the game itself.” MLB under Selig has “devolved into a performance-enhancing mess.” Selig “means well,” though he has "always acted ... in the best interests of ownership, not the game itself.” Canzano: “A day such as Tuesday becomes maddening when you consider that a shake-up at the top is so overdue that Selig himself knows it.” Why else “would he have spent so much time playing defense” in a news conference yesterday in N.Y., trying to “re-frame his legacy as if it were coincidental that he was the ‘acting’ commissioner when baseball lost its way” (Portland OREGONIAN, 7/17).