The concept of expanded replay in Major League Baseball dates to . . . the Yankees, as it turns out. At least according to Joe Torre, who cited the Yankees' playoff series against the Tigers in 2012 as one prominent reason for the new system, which begins Sunday night as the 2014 season begins. (Expanded replay was not used in the Dodgers-Diamondbacks two-game series in Australia.)
"There was a play at second base. It was missed," Torre, MLB's executive vice president, said Wednesday on a conference call. He was referring to Omar Infante's being called safe at second in Game 2 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium. Video replay indicated Infante's hand did not touch the bag before Robinson Cano applied the tag. Manager Joe Girardi called for expanded replay after that game.
Torre said, "There was lot of conversation and stuff written about that play as opposed to the game itself. The one thing I didn't want to have happen was something like that really take center stage over the game itself. That's when I realized we certainly can't ignore the technology and the fact that this seems to be what the people want or think they want, but we're going to find that out. At that point we tried to find the best way to get there."
MLB unveiled its command center, the Replay Operations Center yesterday. It will be manned by eight umpires from the existing pool of on-field arbitrators. Each umpire will have a technical assistant to run disputed plays from angles gleaned by 12 cameras at each ballpark.
Managers will have one challenge per game, and a second if the first is successful. They will not be able to challenge home run calls, the original impetus for the replay that started in 2008. Only game umpires can ask for replays on homers.
Torre, 73, played from 1960-77 and will enter the Hall of Fame this summer primarily for his managerial tenure with the Yankees.
"I sort of liked the game the way it was," he said, but added that managers now will have "something that they've never had before and they can use it like a strategy and they have a chance to not go home shaking their heads saying I wish they didn't miss that one call. They'll have a chance to maybe change the outcome of the ballgame."
Disputes will still be part of the game.
"Initially, we said if the manager came out he wasn't going to be able to challenge," Torre said. "We don't want to take away the instinctive things that the managers are going to do. You see something that's not right, you're going to jump out of that dugout . . . The umpire will give them time to disagree and then eventually say [are] you going to challenge it or not.
"We want to make it better and fairer through the replay system. I guess I'm an old codger. If there was a bad call that cost me a game, that to me was part of the game. Now technology is part of the game."