Instant replay returns to discussion

Instant replay returns to discussion

ST. LOUIS -- Commissioner Bud Selig has remained ardently against the use of instant replay to review disputed baseball calls, and nothing has changed in the wake of Wednesday night's crucial ninth-inning play in Chicago that helped turn Game 2 of the American League Championship Series away from the Angels and in favor of the White Sox, a spokesman for his office said Thursday.

Selig couldn't have been more clear about where he stands on the issue this past July, when he answered questions from the fans at his annual Internet chat session carried live by MLB.com.

Asked if he had thought about instituting instant replay in the sport to duplicate a process already followed in the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, Selig said:

"No, I think the human element in baseball is really very important," Selig told a world-wide audience via video, audio and print. "The umpires for the most part do a wonderful job. Sure, there are controversial decisions as there are in every sport, but I think overall, the umpires have really, really tightened up on everything, and I'm satisfied with the job they are doing right now."

After umpires reversed several key calls during the 2004 playoffs, the Major League general managers discussed the instant replay issue at their annual meeting and split, 15-15, on the prospect of instituting it even on a limited scope to help with those decisions.

At the time, then MLB executive vice president Sandy Alderson said that it was "unlikely we'll do anything substantive in the next year to pursue instant replay."

Selig added after the vote that he was satisfied with the current system, which is more than a century old. "I just don't think [instant replay] would be a positive addition," he said.

Alderson has since left to become chief executive of the San Diego Padres and was replaced at MLB by Jimmie Lee Solomon. But Pat Courtney, a spokesman for the Commissioner's office, said on Thursday that "nothing has changed," and the matter isn't slated to be addressed again when the GMs collectively meet next month in Palm Springs, Calif.

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The issue on Wednesday night was whether, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and no one on, Angels catcher Josh Paul had trapped a 3-and-2 pitch to A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox, who swung and missed for the final out. Umpire Doug Eddings signaled a third strike, but said he never told Paul that the batter was out.

Paul could have ended it by simply tagging Pierzynski. Instead, he rolled the ball back to the mound and Pierzynski alertly took first base, where he was ruled safe because Eddings determined that the pitch had indeed been trapped.

Moments later, the White Sox won the game and tied the best-of-seven series when Joe Crede drove in Pablo Ozuna, who pinch-ran for Pierzynski.

Later in the interview room, the umpires said that they had viewed the FOX replay of the incident and determined that it was inconclusive.


POLL:::::::
Should baseball have instant replay?
Yes
No
Only in postseason
But other sports do not rely solely on replays provided by the main network carrying the game to make decisions that either substantiate or overturn calls. Other camera angles are added in hockey and basketball arenas, and football games are also shot from multiple positions.

In football, a coach can challenge certain plays, but is charged with the loss of a timeout if the call is not overturned. The NBA, which is a relative newcomer to utilizing instant replay, only relies on it to determine the legitimacy of buzzer-beating shots, just as the NHL has a full staff of replay experts in each arena solely to determine if a goal is legally scored.

Astros manager Phil Garner said before Thursday night's Game 2 of the National League Championship Series that he wasn't in favor of adding instant replay to the baseball schematic.

"I'm comfortable the way it is," he said. "If they brought it in, I wouldn't have a choice. I'd have to accept it. But I'd just as soon continue to do what we do."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.