NEW YORK — Shane Victorino charges hard from centre field, chasing a sinking line drive. His glove, the ball and the grass all smack together at the same time. What’s the call?
Next year, it well could be: Let’s look at the replay!
Major League Baseball is leaning toward expanding replay for the 2012 season to include trapped balls and fair-or-foul rulings down the lines, a person familiar with the talks tells The Associated Press.
Commissioner Bud Selig and a group of umpires discussed the extra video review at spring training and were in agreement, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is still being discussed.
“Yeah to all of them, oh yeah,” St. Louis reliever Ryan Franklin said. “I just think they should all be called the right way, and it doesn’t matter if it takes an extra five minutes.”
“Don’t take so long between innings, cut 10 seconds off between every half-inning and that could make up for five minutes for the replay on a trapped ball or something like that,” he said. “It doesn’t happen that often.”
Baseball began using replay late in the 2008 season, though only to check potential home run balls. The NFL, NBA, NHL and the NCAA had already employed instant replay.
Since then, there have been a spate of missed calls in the playoffs and World Series.
Last October, Yankees right fielder Greg Golson clearly caught a low liner for the final out of Game 1 in New York’s first-round series against Minnesota, but the umpire ruled the ball bounced. In the 2009 AL playoffs, Joe Mauer’s looper down the left-field line landed fair by a full foot at Yankee Stadium, hopped into the seats and was mistakenly called a foul ball.
Out-or-safe calls on the bases, like the one that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game last year, would not be subject to review. Nor would ball-or-strike decisions.
Players and umpires approved adding replay three years ago. MLB’s contract with the umpires runs through the 2014 season; the labour deal with players expires this December.
Selig’s special committee for on-field matters, a 14-man panel that includes managers, general managers and team executives, also is said to favour the additional replay for next year.
“All anybody wants, and that’s the umpires and us, is to make sure we get the call right,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Thursday. “And whatever it takes to do that, I think, that’s what they’re trying to do. The one thing you don’t want is to have the game last longer and longer because of all these replays and go deep into the night.”
Others are a little leery, too.
“I think it might be too much if you do that. Then you have to do it for everything, strikes, I think it’s just a tough call,” Seattle third baseman Chone Figgins said. “To have those guys go back and look at replay for everything, it would be just too long unless they had a signal from upstairs and hit a button.”
Said San Francisco’s Aubrey Huff: “You’re messing with the history of the game when you start messing with too much.”
“We make mistakes, they make mistakes. You’re talking big home runs, that’s one thing. You’re talking out or safe at home, then why have umpires? Let the cameras make the calls. It’s just stupid,” he said.
Tracking whether a ball lands fair or foul could be achieved with enhanced technology, experts say. Grand Slam tennis has replay for line calls, using a multi-camera system aimed at fixed points.
Judging whether a ball is caught or not could be more tricky. Then again, the NFL sorts out catch-or-no catch by reviewing broadcast shots from several angles.
“I think that the fair-foul thing, I’d be more in favour of that than the trap,” San Diego third baseman Chase Headley said. “Not that I’m against it, but I just think that that it seems like that would be a pretty simple, quick thing.”
“I don’t think you want to drag the game on too long, so you don’t want to go too overboard with it,” he said. “I could see it happening, but I think that if they’re going to keep adding stuff they should do it little by little to kind of see how it goes.”
Detroit catcher Alex Avila called himself a “purist.”
“The human element of the game, to me, is one of the best parts about baseball,” he said. “Honestly, if they didn’t have replay at all, that wouldn’t bother me.”
Los Angeles Dodgers centre-fielder Matt Kemp could be helped — or hurt — by reviews on balls hit his way.
“Sometimes you’re going to be on that side where you want a replay and then sometimes you’re going to be on the side where you don’t want a replay,” the Gold Glover said. “I say you just keep it the way it is and let the umpires decide what it is and go on about playing the game.”