A top baseball official will formulate a proposal for instant replay for officiating, and the technology could be tested in the Arizona Fall League this year.
Jimmie Lee Solomon, the sport's executive vice-president for baseball operations, wouldn't put a timetable on a replay plan, which was recommended by general managers in November. The idea drew renewed attention following several blown home run calls by umpires in recent days.
"The times are such that our fans are used to seeing all the high technology and they're used to seeing the other sports that use these systems to make determinations, and the fans are clamouring for all the sports to look at that," Solomon said Thursday.
Baseball is developing tentative plans to experiment with replay during the fall league and likely would continue testing, if it's successful, during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, ESPN.com reported Thursday.
Solomon wouldn't go that far.
"We're looking at various places to start looking at instant replay," he said. "We've made no final decision as to where exactly we're going to try it out, do any test runs or anything yet."
General managers voted 25-5 last November to use replays on boundary calls, such as whether possible homers are fair or foul, whether balls clear fences, and whether there's fan interference.
On Sunday night, umpires at Yankee Stadium reversed a correct call and concluded an apparent home run by the Mets' Carlos Delgado was foul. On Monday night, umps in Houston mistakenly ruled a ball off a centre-field wall was in play. And on Wednesday night, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez lost a home run when umpires decided the ball hit the fence — replays showed it glanced off a yellow staircase behind the fence.
Selig expected to move slowly
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig repeatedly has said he's against replay but also said he is willing to consider it.
"I've had conversations with the commissioner about it and I know he's giving it a lot of thought and consideration and doing a lot of work on it. Commissioner Selig is getting a lot more information and will know the pros and cons," Seattle Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said.
"I think it's certainly something that bears exploring and I look forward to hearing the results," he added. "You have those things that happened this week in Houston or Yankee Stadium and those things just should not happen."
Solomon noted Selig's habit of being deliberate in his decision-making.
"I think that he's going to be very cautious as we move forward," Solomon said. "I'm hoping to have something to the commissioner as soon as I possibly can, and once I do that it will be on him to decide how fast he wants us to try to be looking at rolling something out, and then after that how soon we'll look to be implementing something. So all of these things right now are very, very, very preliminary."
The use of replay in major league games likely would need the approval of the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association.
"You're going to have to talk to all the parties that are involved because everybody will be needed to make the system a success," Solomon said.
The NFL, NBA, NHL, some NCAA sports and major tennis tournaments use replay in some form. International soccer has resisted, although some leagues use it after matches to sort out suspensions for red and yellow cards.