Study group to examine on-field issues
NEW YORK -- With critics calling for expanded video review of umpires' calls and some players pushing to expand the first round of the playoffs, baseball commissioner Bud Selig established a committee of managers and longtime executives.
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Managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia were selected Tuesday for the "special committee for on-field matters," which Selig will chair. They will meet for the first time next month.
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who is black, was the only minority picked for the panel.
Scioscia was livid with the number of off-days during the postseason, and Selig promised to re-examine the format, which added four extra off-days starting in 2007 at the behest of the sport's broadcast networks.
Following a series of blown calls by umpires during the playoffs, many said baseball should expand video review, which began in 2008 and is limited to whether potential home runs are fair and whether the ball went over the fence.
"This is not a reaction to some of the things that happened during the playoffs," Selig said. "I'm not saying that it didn't keep moving me along in this direction because it did, but frankly I had this in mind for a long time."
The group will examine scheduling, umpiring, the strike zone and pace of game, which again became an issue when Yankees catcher Jorge Posada made frequent trips to the mound during the postseason.
Selig repeatedly said "there are no sacred cows." Although he has opposed expanding the use of instant replay, he said, "I will be guided by what this committee comes up with."
No players or umpires were included.
"We can't have every constituency involved at first," Selig said.
New union head Michael Weiner said this month players may propose during the next round of bargaining in 2011 to expand the first round of the playoffs to best-of-seven from best-of-five.
"Owners are entitled to structure their internal affairs as they wish," Weiner said Tuesday. "It's clear the subjects will have to be collectively bargained. I think the owners understand that bargaining becomes difficult if one side gets entrenched in positions before consulting or negotiating with the other. The players have their own ideas about these subjects and look forward to an exchange of ideas with the owners when bargaining commences."
Selig acknowledged that some recommendations could take a while to implement because of collective bargaining agreements and network broadcast contracts. La Russa and Atlanta Braves general manager John Schuerholz said the designated hitter was the one on-field issue that has lasted the longest during their tenure.
"When I was in the American League, I was in favor of the designated hitter. In the National, I've maybe taken another position on that," said Schuerholz, a former Kansas City Royals GM. "Our game has proved that it can succeed and flourish with the different approaches in the different leagues."
La Russa said he would be in favor of eliminating the DH. There has never been a consensus on the issue in recent years and players would have to approve, which appears unlikely.
"I think the game is more complete without the DH," La Russa said.
There are four owner representatives: Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston; Philadelphia Phillies president Dave Montgomery; Seattle Mariners president Chuck Armstrong; and St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt. Political columnist George Will also is on the panel.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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