A formal vote on MLB's expanded instant replay system will not occur until the next set of owners meetings in November, but the league is moving forward conceptually on a challenge-based system in which managers would be able to ask for video review several times per game. Managers would get a challenge opportunity once in the first six innings of each game, and then two more from the 7th inning to the end of each game. Challenges would be permitted on a long and still-developing list of reviewable plays, estimated to cover about 89% of generally disputed on-field situations. "This is a historic moment," said Braves President John Schuerholz, part of a subcommittee that has worked for months on the replay issue. "For the first time, managers are empowered to challenge plays that affect them." Schuerholz said a more centralized replay model used in basketball and hockey was actively considered. But he said the new plan "is a happy balance that will retain the uniqueness and charm of baseball." The current, umpire-led format for reviewing home run and boundary calls is being grandfathered into the new system (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). Schuerholz said that MLB "expected challenged calls to be resolved in about 1 minute 15 seconds." In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes that "seems optimistic." The new initiative "could involve installing more cameras at ballparks" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/16).
UNDER REVIEW: In N.Y., Ken Davidoff reports MLB "plans to meet with the managers at the winter meetings in December and start training umpires during the Arizona Fall League." Schuerholz said that '14 would "represent 'Phase One,' and the game’s leaders would see what worked and what didn’t and plan to make adjustments" for '15 (N.Y. POST, 8/16). In Chicago, Phil Rogers writes "don't expect many objections" from umpires, although they will "push for as much extra staffing as possible" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/16). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale in a front-page piece writes under the header, "Game Changer." The majority of umpires are "strongly in favor of expanded replay, but with more technology, they want to make sure no jobs are eliminated." A source said that the "start-up fees for the replay system" will be $25-40M. But the owners were "told MLB would attempt to recoup a bulk of the annual operating costs with corporate sponsorship of the replays, minimizing the fees" (USA TODAY, 8/16). ESPN's Jayson Stark acknowledged the costs for a uniform replay system, but he said, "In an $8 billion industry, I think they can scrape together that money somehow or another" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN.com, 8/15).
GOOD FOR THE GAME: USA TODAY's Paul White writes under the header, "Across MLB, Reaction Is Positive To Expanded Replay" (USA TODAY, 8/16). In N.Y., John Harper writes this is "good for baseball" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/16). FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote, "At least the game’s top executives are open-minded, prepared to address any flaws that arise." MLB "needed to do something," and it now is "moving toward a better if still imperfect place" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/15). ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and Exec VP/Baseball Operations Joe Torre have "been against" expanding replay, and the "fact that they've come around to this is a very, very important part." It means there is "some sort of mechanism that's going to work" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN.com, 8/15). CBSSPORTS.com's Scott Miller wrote, "Quite simply, it's time. It's beyond time" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/15). In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz: "This is progress, and I applaud that. I just wish MLB hadn't gotten so cute in devising the new system" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/16). ESPN's Doug Glanville said, "You have to be careful, it’s a slippery slope, because there is no such thing as perfect and the technology will keep evolving." The danger eventually exists that the replay system "could be getting away just from the human element of the game." But the technology aspect "has pushed the envelope, and there's a lot of things that baseball can be very innovative with in terms of replay that can make it still part of the culture" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 8/15).
ADDING TO SLOWER GAMES? In N.Y., Benjamin Hoffman writes MLB "may be slowing down an already slow game, thus exacerbating an existing problem while trying to fix another." MLB by adding challenges "has a risk of alienating not only fans who already consider the games too long and too slow, but also purists who believe the human element, and pace of the game, are essential to the purity of the sport" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/16). However, ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "Nobody should say this is going to slow down Major League Baseball because what you should do away with is arguments several times a game" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/15).
ON SECOND THOUGHT...: NBC Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd in a special for ESPN.com wrote under the header, "Time To Reassess Bud Selig." Todd: "I've found myself praising Bud Selig and even acknowledging that he's good for the game." Todd: "He has restored power and prestige to the commissioner's office in a way I never expected or thought was possible 20 years ago." Selig took MLB "into the abyss, but he also brought it back" (ESPN.com, 8/15). In N.Y., Bill Madden writes, "With about a year and four months left in his commissionership, Selig is taking care of all the remaining family business -- with a firm and even hand." Madden: "Considering where Selig has come from ... this is shaping up as one of the greatest comebacks of all time in baseball" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/16).