MLB to expand instant replay next season

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball is moving ahead with plans to expand instant replay next year.

“We’re pretty confident we’ll have it in place for 2014,” MLB Executive Vice President Joe Torre said Tuesday before the All-Star game.

Video review has been in place for umpires on home run calls since August 2008. Commissioner Bud Selig initially wanted to add trap plays and fair-or-foul calls down the lines for 2013, but the change was put off while more radical options were examined.

Still, Selig has wanted to proceed cautiously.

“Look, life isn’t perfect. The sport isn’t perfect, but we live with it, and it’s been great,” he said Tuesday during his annual meeting the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “We have to be careful in our zest to improve things not to affect the game as we’ve all known it.”

Part of a replay subcommittee that includes former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz, Torre has said all options are being considered, including an NFL-type system that would give managers the ability to challenge calls. He hopes to have plans for owners to consider when they meet next month in Cooperstown.

“We certainly don’t want to get stuck in the mud saying we’re not going to do anything when technology is out there saying that we can improve it somewhat,” Torre said. “We’ve got to decide, how much replay do we want? Because if you start doing it from the first inning to the ninth inning, you may have to time the game with a calendar.”

Selig said the calendar was an issue in MLB’s refusal to make players available for the Olympics. Baseball was an Olympic medal sport from 1992-2008, then was dropped for last year’s London Games. IOC President Jacques Rogge says baseball should make its top athletes available, as they are in basketball and hockey. The IOC will vote in September to select one sport from among baseball-softball, wrestling and squash to add to the 2020 Games.

Stopping the baseball season for the Olympics is impractical.

“First of all, we’d be playing to Thanksgiving, maybe Dec. 1,” Selig said. “It just isn’t possible. I wish it was.”

Selig said baseball had stopped discussing a possible future shift of the All-Star game from its traditional Tuesday to a Wednesday slot. He said he’s not concerned that the tied All-Star game of 2002 in Milwaukee, when the teams ran out of pitchers, is mentioned as part of his reign.

“I don’t regard this as part of my history. It happened,” he said. “The fate of western civilization, by the way, wasn’t changed one iota as a result of that tie, lest anybody get too concerned about it.”

He also repeated his concern about the Tampa Bay Rays, who are next-to-last in the major leagues with a home attendance average of 17,791 despite contending in the AL East.

Selig called the situation “beyond disappointing” and “economically not tolerable.”

“You look at a club in the major leagues that’s competitive that’s averaging 18,000 people a game. That may have been OK in 1956. It’s not OK today,” he said. “There’s no question there’s a stadium problem there. There’s no debate about that. The question is what to do about it and when to do and where to do.”

Selig repeated his intention to retire in December 2014 after 22 years in office but said there are no definitive succession plans.

“I’ve always operated under the theory that if I get hit by a beer truck tomorrow, they’d have to find somebody,” he said. “Somehow, some way they’ll find somebody.”

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