Major League Baseball is looking into the possibility of implementing instant replay on a limited basis by Aug. 1, USA Today reported on its Web site Friday, citing two high-ranking officials within the World Umpires Association.Last November, baseball's general managers voted 25-5 during their annual meeting to explore the possibility of using the video technology to help decide disputed home run calls: Fair or foul, in or out of the ballpark. And after extensive meetings with union leaders for the players and umpires, reportedly these are the areas in which the replay would be utilized. The Associated Press and USA Today both reported that the league and the umpires' union need to reach agreement before replay can be tried, and the sides have started talking. While those talks may be ongoing, ultimately, Commissioner Bud Selig will decide when, or if, baseball uses replay. "It's all still premature," MLB spokesman Rich Levin told USA Today and The Associated Press on Friday. "A final decision has not been made." With a number of disputed home run calls already this season, some GMs are eager to have it implemented in some shape or form. "I'm just for getting calls right," said Kenny Williams, the GM of the White Sox. "It's nothing against the umpires or trying to take away the human element of the game. I'm for getting the call right because there's so much at stake. Let's not have something happen at a very pivotal moment that changes the course of history for a particular franchise." Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi seconded that notion. "Fair or foul. Down the line. Just get it right," he said. "If we can get the fair or foul, I think that's a good start." Not everyone is a proponent of instant replay, though. "I don't think it's needed at all, to be honest," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Friday. "How many times do you see players make errors? Baseball has talked about speeding up the game. It's all you hear. All of a sudden, they want instant replay? You're going to have slower games and more restless people in the stands." Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who calls himself "a purist," was not in favor of instant replay before, but he has since softened his stance.
"I don't want it to get past home-run calls," Hendry told USA Today. "These new stadiums have made it a lot harder to get the home-run calls right, with the advertising signs and different structures behind the fencing. It's a tough call."
The NFL, NBA, NHL, some NCAA sports and major tennis tournaments all employ replay in various forms.MLB would not likely implement a system in which delays will be considerable or disruptive to the pace. To the contrary, one stated goal in the contemplation of replay would be to reduce confusion and eliminate extended arguments over the issue in question.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.