Get ready for expanded instant replay for umpires’ calls next year. Major League Baseball says it’s virtually certain all the new systems will be in place for Opening Day.
MLB executive vice president Joe Torre met with general managers Tuesday and said he expects approval from owners, players and umpires by January.
”We expect to be all on the same page by the time we need to have it,” he said.
Virtually all umpires’ calls other than balls and strikes, checked swings and some foul tips will be reviewable. The system was tested last week during Arizona Fall League games, with two major league umpires reviewing video and making the final call.
Owners are expected to give their go-ahead Thursday for funding and then approve the rules when they meet in January.
”I’m sure they’ll do as much testing as they think is feasible, but ultimately they’ll probably go with what they have,” New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. ”There probably will be bugs. . . . It might be a little rough at the beginning, but I think that things will work out thereafter.”
Baseball started using video review in 2008 but limited it to home run calls — whether a ball went over a fence or was fair.
Under the system that’s been in place, three of the four umpires at a ballpark watched video provided them by MLB. Starting next year, challenged calls will be reviewed at a central location.
”We’d like to have everything clean and be incorporated into the challenge system,” Torre said.
Most reviews during the Arizona test averaged 1 minute, 40 seconds. Torre expects the new system will be used at some but not all spring training sites.
”We have to make sure the managers have a chance to practice with this. They need practice only because it’s never been done before,” he said. ”You’re not going to be able to test it everywhere because you just can’t put the equipment everywhere.”
On another matter, Torre said there will be no change to baseball’s obstruction rule, which gave St. Louis a controversial 5-4 win over Boston in Game 3 of the World Series last month. Cardinals runner Allen Craig tripped over Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning of a tied game and was awarded home plate on obstruction — intent is not a factor in the obstruction decision by umpires.
”I really don’t see anything” to be done, Torre said, before adding: ”Nobody wants a game to end like that. I don’t think that’s any secret.’