Selig says 'confidence is growing,' but hedges on official OK
WASHINGTON -- Major league ballparks are being wired for instant replay, and commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday his "confidence is growing" that the technology to assist umpires will be ready soon.
"I want to make sure that if and when we do it, it's really good, it's perfect," Selig said at the conclusion of two days of owners' meetings. "It'll be very limited. I want to make sure, and I'm not quite certain yet. But we should have answers very shortly."
Selig said he has visited the so-called "war room" in New York where officials would review video feeds of disputed home runs. The NHL has a similar setup in Toronto.
"We've spent a lot of time doing a lot of wiring of ballparks, doing a lot of checking," Selig said. "Let's just say my confidence is growing."
Two baseball officials told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that as of Thursday morning, instant replay was a done deal, with all of the issues with the union being settled, and replay will happen "soon."
A replay report was given to owners by Jimmie Lee Solomon, an executive vice president in the commissioner's office, a person at the meeting said, speaking on condition of anonymity, because Selig's remarks were the only ones that were authorized.
Owners were told that an agreement with the umpires' union was basically in place.
"They're trying, obviously, to get instant replay before the season ends," Gene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players' association, said while watching the Cuba-U.S. Olympic baseball game in Beijing. "We're having some discussions. It's coming at some point. It's more a question of when and how than whether."
The "war room" will be at the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Phones and monitors for replay will be installed near the field at every ballpark, and decisions will be made by crew chiefs after consulting the New York office.
Selig was once a staunch opponent of replay, but a spate of missed home run calls this season has changed his stance.
Replays would be used only to determine whether a ball leaving the field is fair or foul, or whether it actually went over the fence. It would not be used on close plays on the bases, or to determine balls and strikes.
Replay was discussed at the meetings but doesn't require a vote among the owners because it is not a rule change.
Also Wednesday, owners voted to approve Bill Neukom as controlling owner of the San Francisco Giants as of Oct. 1, when Peter Magowan retires.
The owners also approved participation in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Selig again voiced his concern about maple bats, which appear to shatter more often and more dangerously than ash bats. He said baseball has hired researchers at two universities to study the bats, but no action will be taken this season.
"My concerns are the same," Selig said. "Every game I watch there's a bat splintered. I'm sensitive about it, and we need to move ahead."
Selig said All-Star rosters might be expanded by two pitchers to ensure that position players won't have to pitch if the game goes deep into extra innings. Both teams nearly ran out of pitchers during the American League's 15-inning win at Yankee Stadium in July.
Selig ruled out altering the rules to make an extra-inning All-Star Game end faster. At the Beijing Olympics, each team's at-bat in the 11th inning and beyond begins with runners on first and second.
"It's meant to be played to completion," Selig said. "I thought we had forever solved the problem, and we had. Everything we did worked, but we may put an additional safeguard in."
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN The Magazine senior writer Buster Olney was used in this report.