A certain sect of diehard baseball fans has been calling for “robot umpires” for a while now. If Major League Baseball owners like what they hear Wednesday, then automated officials could be one step closer to reality.
Former managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, joined by Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz, are set to present their findings from comprehensive studies into instant replay, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Though instant replay has been used to determine some home run calls since 2008, a newly proposed system would potentially bring instant replay to all umpires’ calls except balls and strikes.
If the owners approve of the plan to be suggested, then MLB’s next step would be to begin negotiating with the MLB Players Association and the umpires union. The system could theoretically be implemented in time for the 2014 season, if all goes well.
“Arguments will be still part of the game,” La Russa said. “We’re not going to eliminate that. But I think if [instant replay] is done carefully, and recognizing how it can be done effectively and efficiently, it will be good for the game.
“If the owners want to move forward, I’m all for it.”
Although the trio of MLB officials may have a plan for implementing expanded instant replay, that doesn’t mean it will be easy — or cheap. First of all, an elaborate system of high-speed cameras would need to be installed in every stadium in the league. Secondly, a monitoring system — likely not too dissimilar from the NHL’s method of having the league office review replays — would have to be created, perhaps staffed by current umpires.
The cost is estimated to be between $25 and $40 million.
Other issues have yet to be decided, including simply how and when replays will occur. There has been speculation MLB may implement some sort of challenge system, like the NFL.