MLB to expand use of instant replay in 2014
Experiments with angles and other factors are ongoing
Major League Baseball intends to expand the use of instant replay for the 2014 season and will be studying over the course of this year which calls to review and how to do it.
Joe Torre, an MLB executive vice-president, said Tuesday that league officials plan to visit Miami during the World Baseball Classic and various spring training sites to examine camera angles and other factors that will help them develop a plan.
"We're going to increase replay next year. We just don't know how we're going to go about it yet," Torre said before managing the U.S. team for the World Baseball Classic in an exhibition against the Chicago White Sox.
"I know we're using a number of venues to see what make sense," Torre said, "and it's really making sense with the rhythm of the game as a priority."
Commissioner Bud Selig has said he wants to add video reviews for trapped balls and fair-or-foul calls, but league officials also are considering whether it makes sense to review close plays on basepaths — forceouts and tags, for example — and other controversial calls.
Torre said technology could help dictate how widely instant replay is expanded.
During 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 for swing and ball flight analysis.
League executives also will be considering ways to implement wider review, such as giving the managers the option of challenging a call. A similar arrangement is used in the NFL, where coaches can throw a red challenge flag and have referees review whatever video is available.
"I don't think it would be a pure challenge system," Torre said. "We've stayed away from that being part of the game. The manager already makes so many decisions, and to drop another rock or two in his pocket, I think it's a little bit much."
Torre said the league is mainly "looking at is some of the obvious stuff you can see right away," but that it's a balancing act to make sure replay doesn't interrupt the flow of the game.
He also referred to a play in the NFL to illustrate the drawbacks of replay.
During a game in Pittsburgh, the Steelers quarterback lost control of the ball and officials allowed the play to continue, because it wasn't clear whether it was a pass or fumble. The Chiefs recovered the ball and scored a touchdown, and then were penalized for excessive celebration.
The play was ruled an incomplete pass, giving the ball back to Pittsburgh.
"Now Pittsburgh, instead of being fourth [down] and having to punt, they have a first down because of a celebration of a touchdown that never happened," Torre said. "So it's not ideal. Just because you have replay, you're not going to get the piece of cake that you want."
One type of call that Torre said is not up for review is balls and strikes, though not so much because of limits on technology or questions about such a system's accuracy.
"I think balls and strikes, you have to have something to yell about," he said with a smile. "I don't want to take the yelling out of the thing. That's part of the colour."