Bud Selig set to expand instant replay for 2013 season
DETROIT -- Before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night, Bud Selig delivered the strongest indication to date that instant replay will be expanded in time for the start of the 2013 season.
Despite some opposition within Selig's inner circle, including from executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre, Selig plans to push forward with video review of two situations: fair/foul calls and trapped balls.
Currently, instant replay is limited to home runs, with umpires relying on a black box monitor installed in the dugout runway of stadiums. But Major League Baseball already has tested the new camera technology during the second half of this season -- at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium -- with the intention of getting it up to speed at all ballparks for next April.
Expanded replay was negotiated into last year's collective-bargaining agreement, but Selig explained that the particulars must be ironed out this winter. When asked if the new system will be implemented for next season, Selig replied, "It better be."
MLB is headed down a slippery slope with instant replay, which probably explains why Selig was reluctant to introduce it in the first place. The commissioner likes to talk about the "human element" involved in baseball, a nod to the umpires' significant presence. But with the expanded technology now used to broadcast the games, it's exposed the umpires to far more scrutiny, i.e. pointing out their frequent mistakes.
Earlier this year, Buck Showalter and Joe Girardi talked about how the game moves too fast these days to be officiated without the help of video technology. Whether it's the difficulty of trying to track a 98-mph moving fastball or seeing a tag at the plate, more managers are coming around to the idea, especially in light of so many costly mistakes.
Still, Selig maintains that "baseball is a game of pace" and worries about the sport's most troubling bugaboo, at least from a TV standpoint, which is the length of games.
"As Joe Torre said to everyone at the All-Star Game [meetings], life's not perfect," Selig said, "and I think officiating in any sport is not perfect."
MLB has been fortunate to avoid any controversial umpiring calls through the first two games of this World Series. Perhaps the biggest situation came in Game 2, when plate umpire Dan Iassogna correctly spotted Buster Posey's tag of Prince Fielder, an extremely close -- and critical -- play in the Giants' 2-0 victory.
Past experience has shown, however, that MLB is due for a handful of potentially embarrassing scenarios before the Fall Classic is over. But the same TV technology that helps create these controversies is gradually being used to prevent them in the future, so that's got to be considered progress.
And if this next round of expanded replay goes well, don't think it won't be stretched again, perhaps to eventually include safe/out calls, most likely with a challenge-type format similar to the NFL.