Selig still opposed to instant replay
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Bud Selig is standing by his call.
Before general managers could make a pitch for instant replay Wednesday, the commissioner reiterated his long-held position that he doesn't think it belongs in baseball.
Following a string of contested calls during the postseason, GMs had been expected to discuss whether to propose using replay to review umpires' decisions.
"Yes, we had some incidents that certainly need to be looked at. So I'm not minimizing them. But do I believe in instant replay? No, I do not,'' Selig said. "Human error is part of our sport.''
Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said that after Selig's morning address to GMs, none brought up the topic.
"For this season, I don't foresee there being any,'' Solomon said. "I think that there are a lot of GMs that seem to, at least in interviews that I read, made comments that they might want to consider instant replay in some limited situations. So, I think those GMs and those operations people will bring it up again.''
New Philadelphia general manager Pat Gillick told reporters he would favor using replay to determine whether balls were home runs or foul, and whether balls cleared markings on fences that set boundaries for homers. Those types of calls often lead to conferences among umpires trying to ascertain who had the best view.
"Everybody sits at home and gets the advantage of replays,'' Gillick said. "If they want to huddle together for five minutes to get the play right, they could replay it in the same period of time or a shorter period of time and get it right.''
Selig said he brought up the subject because he anticipated GMs would be interested.
"If you get into instant replay, you're going to have games that just go on endlessly. And that isn't in anybody's best interest,'' he said. "And where do you stop and where do you start it?''
If GMs were to approve using replay, their proposal would have to be ratified by owners before it could be implemented. It's unclear whether the players' association also would have to agree.
Solomon and Mike Port, hired in August as baseball's vice president for umpiring, gave a presentation on umpires later in the day. Port said that before 2000, many umpires were "out of shape, out of place and out of touch.'' There has been a great improvement in conditioning, positioning, demeanor and calls since then, the commissioner's office says.
In the ballparks that used the QuesTec computer system to analyze ball-and-strike calls, Port said the percentage of correctly called pitches increased from 92.91 in 2003 to 93.62 the following season to 94.20 this year. He said the primary disagreement between umpires and the machines was over pitches up in the strike zone.
Port said the number of ejections during the regular season dropped to 289 in 2003 to 236 the following season and 227 this year, but the ejections that resulted from calls on the bases doubled from 24 in 2004 to 48 this year.
He said six of the 68 major league umpires were unavailable for the postseason because of injuries, leaving 62 to be considered. Because the umps' labor contract says no one can umpire consecutive postseason series, that means at least 36 umpires must be used in the postseason.
Solomon and Port said an effort was made to give younger umpires postseason experience in order to prepare them for playoff games when current veterans retire.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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