New MLB Committee to Consider Expanded Use of Instant Replay, Longer Playoff Series


PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Expanded instant replay is on the agenda for the first meeting of Major League Baseball's newly formed committee of managers and longtime executives on Thursday.

The 14-man committee also will discuss expanding the first round of the playoffs to best of seven and ways to eliminate lengthy breaks during the postseason.

As owners and general managers met at a mountainside resort on Wednesday, commissioner Bud Selig said he will raise the replay issue.

"I'll probably bring that up," Selig said.

Following a series of blown calls by umpires during the playoffs, many said baseball should expand video review, which began in 2008 and is limited to whether potential home runs are fair and whether balls go over the fence.

Selig wouldn't predict where the replay discussion might lead.

"What I want tomorrow, I want them to discuss everything," Selig said. "I really want to hear from them. I've encouraged this group to be very blunt, talk about anything they want."

The "special committee for on-field matters" includes managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia.

Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who is black, is the only minority on the panel.

The committee includes Baltimore president for baseball operations Andy MacPhail, Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro, Atlanta president John Schuerholz and former Minnesota GM Terry Ryan.

There are four owner representatives: Toronto president Paul Beeston, Philadelphia president Dave Montgomery, Seattle president Chuck Armstrong and St. Louis chairman Bill DeWitt. Political columnist George Will also is on the panel.

Scioscia was livid with the number of off-days during the last postseason, and Selig has promised to re-examine the format, which added four extra off-days starting in 2007 at the behest of the sport's broadcast networks.

New union head Michael Weiner said last month that players may propose during the next round of bargaining in 2011 to expand the first round of the playoffs from best-of-five.

"The problem is, everybody wants to talk about going into November, but then they want to add on to the schedule," Selig said. "You always have to think about postponements and travel.

"Look, I didn't say we couldn't do better," Selig said. "I do have some ideas. Yes, there are days we can eliminate, and should."

Selig spent two hours meeting with general managers on Wednesday. He said it was a constructive session, and he wants to have more frequent meetings with GMs.

The discussion centered on possible changes to the amateur draft, a baseball executive at the meetings said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Selig didn't reveal details publicly. Baseball management hopes to expand the draft to players outside the United States, who currently are free agents, and replace individual negotiations with a slotting system.

"It's an honor any time the commissioner has one-on-ones with you," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "He's a busy man. His time's important. We appreciate that he thinks enough to have us out here and ask us our opinion on the game."

"He was there to obviously give us direction but also to hear our voices," Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes said.

Also Wednesday, Selig said he did not expect other small-market clubs to come under pressure to boost payrolls after the perennially frugal Florida Marlins reached an agreement with the players' union to increase spending. The Marlins' agreement came in the wake of complaints the team payroll has been so small as to violate baseball's revenue-sharing provisions.

Baseball's labor contract calls for each club to use its revenue-sharing receipts in an effort to improve the team. In recent years, the union has complained the requirement was not met by some clubs, including the Marlins.

"There are a lot of small-market clubs spending a lot of money, frankly," Selig said. "I think that was a situation with Florida that we've been working on for a long time, and I think it was a good result."

Pittsburgh chairman Bob Nutting said he wasn't concerned the Pirates' payroll, typically among the lowest in baseball, would come under scrutiny. He said the team has invested in player development and scouting.

"I think the fixation just at the major league club's single-number payroll doesn't tell the whole story for the Pirates of where we're investing and how we're building the team," Nutting said. "I'm comfortable what we're doing is the right thing for Pittsburgh."

The Pirates are mired in a string of 17 straight losing seasons, the longest streak in U.S. major pro sports history.

Selig had little to say about former slugger Mark McGwire's admission that he used steroids. The commissioner said he spent Sunday night revising his statement on the matter, which he issued on Monday.

"I knew beforehand, but not much," Selig said. "This was his desire to go public, and obviously, I've talked a lot to Tony [La Russa] and Bill DeWitt [the Cardinals' chairman]."

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