NEW YORK — 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 and 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.
Torre hopes to have proposals by the Aug. 14-15 session in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Umpires are under heightened scrutiny following two wrong 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 the chairman of 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.”
The NFL, NBA, NHL, some NCAA sports and major tennis tournaments all use a form of replay, and even FIFA and the English Premier have adopted goal-line technology.