GMs vote 25-5 to use replay to aid home run decisions
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baseball could have a new position next year: replay judge.
General managers recommended for the first time Tuesday that instant replay be used to help umpires make difficult decisions.
The proposal, approved by a 25-5 vote, was limited to boundary calls -- whether potential home runs are fair or foul, whether balls go over fences or hit the tops and bounce back, and whether fans interfere with possible homers.
"We've taken the first step. The question will be now, what do we do?" said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office. "We have glacier-like movement in baseball, so I'm hopeful that we can at least start meaningful discussions about it. I think that this will be something we'll have to go very deliberately on."
Five general managers -- Dan O'Dowd of the Rockies, Josh Byrnes of the Diamondbacks, Jim Bowden of the Nationals, John Mozeliak of the Cardinals and Billy Beane of the A's were in charge of the recommendation.
Solomon said the next step will be to speak with commissioner Bud Selig, who opposes the use of replays but said last month he was willing to let GMs examine the issue. If Selig gives the go-ahead, Solomon and staff in the commissioner's office would draft a detailed replay proposal that GMs could vote on when they gather next month at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
"All anybody is interested in is getting it right," White Sox GM Ken Williams said. "It will be a lot easier and less time to get that right than some of these arguments that ensue when a call is disputed."
Replay eventually would have to be approved by the unions for players and umpires, and possibly in a vote by owners.
Solomon said if replay couldn't be put in place for the start of next season, it was possible it could make its debut in the postseason. A baseball executive told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that replay is not likely to be implemented in 2008.
"It's very important that we do get Bud's agreement on this," Solomon said. "He seemed to be softer, at least, on the consideration of the subject lately. I would not consider him an advocate of instant replay. He will have to be convinced."
Selig earlier this year said he did not favor replay "because I don't like all the delays. I think it sometimes creates as many problems or more than it solves."
Television replays can be used for many calls in the NFL. In the NBA, they are often used to determine whether players get shots off before time expires. In the NHL, replays are applied to check whether pucks cross goal lines. In grand slam tennis, replays can be used to ascertain whether balls are in or out.
Solomon likened this to the NHL model. He said the GMs' technology committee felt that the best method would be to have all video fed to a central location to be judged.
"A phone call would go to that person, and that person would have all the available angles that the network feed provided, and then make that call," he said. "We would have limits on it and there would be some type of penalties if a person tried to, if a team tried to go beyond those limits."
Solomon also said that to speed up games, baseball was considering limiting when a hitter could step out of the batter's box between pitches, restricting the number of times a player could visit the mound, and limiting the number of players allowed to visit the mound.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.