NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Major League Baseball appears set for a vast expansion of video review by umpires in 2014 and is examining whether all calls other than balls or strikes should be subject to instant replay.
Replay has been in place for home run calls since August 2008. Commissioner Bud Selig initially wanted to add trap plays and fair/foul calls down the lines for 2013, but change was put off while more radical options were examined.
"My opinion has evolved," Selig said Thursday after MLB executive vice president Joe Torre gave an update at a quarterly owners' meeting.
Umpires are under heightened scrutiny following two bad decisions last week. After initially failing to award Oakland's Adam Rosales a tying home run in the ninth inning at Cleveland on May 8, Angel Hernandez's umpiring crew reviewed video and still didn't award him the homer even though replays showed the ball clearly went over the fence.
The following day, umpire Fieldin Culbreth's crew allowed Houston manager Bo Porter to improperly switch relievers in the middle of an inning, leading to a two-game suspension for the crew chief.
"Have we had a bad week or so? Yeah," Torre said. "One was a rules thing; it had nothing to do with replay."
In tests last year at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, MLB experimented with the Hawk-Eye animation system that is used to judge line calls in tennis and the TrackMan radar software used by the PGA Tour.
While initially assigned to a large "special committee for on-field matters" that Selig established in 2009, replay recommendations will now come from a subcommittee of three: Torre, former St. Louis manager Tony La Russa and Atlanta president John Schuerholz, who is chairing the group.
"There are a lot of hurdles," Torre said. "You could start replaying stuff from the first inning on and then time the game by your calendar. That would be crazy. We have a rhythm in this game that we certainly don't want to disrupt."
The group is examining whether to have replay officials in booths at ballparks or at a central location, and whether to have umpires wear headsets as soccer officials do. Torre is against giving managers a challenge system, as NFL coaches have, but says opinion is split.
"Managers have to make enough decisions," he said. "We've tried to stay away from technology telling us what to do."
Torre said his decision to examine a vast expansion came after Jeff Nelson blew a call at second base in the second game of last year's AL championship series. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano tagged Detroit's Omar Infante, and Nelson ruled him safe instead of calling an inning-ending out. Detroit stretched its lead from one run to three and went on to a 3-0 victory and a four-game sweep.
"That really caught my eye and caught my attention with the fact that there was more conversation about that instead of the game itself," Torre said. "There's no question we're considering much more than the trap play and fair/foul. But again, one of the decisions we have to make is how much of this do we want to do without really disrupting and putting people to sleep?"
One thing is for sure: Whatever the decision ends up being, it will bring with it plenty of debate.
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