ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - The runner rounds third base and slides home in a cloud of dust. The catcher lunges with the tag.
All eyes are fixed on the umpire for the call …
And next year, they all will quickly shift to video screens far from the stadium for the decision: safe or out?
Most on-field calls in Major League Baseball next season will be subject to video review by umpires in New York.
MLB took the first vote in a two-step process Thursday, unanimously approving funding for expanded instant replay in 2014. They plan to approve the new rules when they meet Jan. 16 in Paradise Valley, Ariz., after agreements with the unions for umpires and players.
“We made a gigantic move today,” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “This is quite historic.”
Selig long opposed replay and watched from afar as it was first used by the NFL in 1986, the NHL in 1991, the NBA in 2002 and Wimbledon in 2006. Even the Little League World Series put replay in place for 2008.
MLB allowed it starting August 2008 but in a limited manner: to determine whether potential home runs were fair or cleared fences.
Now, virtually every decision likely will be subject to review, except balls and strikes, checked swings and some foul tips.
“Tag plays, out/safe at first, fair/foul past the bags, those are all going to be included,” said Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer.
So no more blown calls, like Don Denkinger’s at first base that turned Game 6 of the 1985 World Series or Jim Joyce’s bad decision at first that cost Detroit’s Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010.
“We want to get more plays right, the ones that matter,” Manfred said.
Manfred said when a manager wants to challenge a call, he will notify an umpire, triggering a review in New York by what are likely to be present or retired big league umps. A headset would be brought to the crew chief, who would be notified of the decision.
There will be a maximum of two challenges per manager in each game _ “it could be less,” Manfred said _ and if the challenge is upheld it would not be counted against the manager’s limit. If a manager is out of challenges, umpires probably will be allowed request a review on their own.
“Getting more plays right can only enhance the game,” St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said.
Manfred appeared to indicate that the video being reviewed in New York could be shown to fans in stadiums or possibly on television broadcasts.
“I think you can expect that there will be as part of this package expanded use of in-stadium video boards,” he said.
Selig has emphasized that he doesn’t want replay to slow games, whose increased length in recent decades has been targeted for criticism.
“The current thinking is that if a manager comes out and argues, once he argues, he can’t challenge that play,” Manfred said. “One way to control the timing of challenges is to use the natural flow of the game, that is the next pitch cuts off your right to challenge.”
But MLB doesn’t want managers to tell players to stall to give team employees time to review video on their own and instruct the dugout whether to use a challenge.
In tests last week at the Arizona Fall League, most reviews averaged 1 minute, 40 seconds.
Former manager Tony La Russa, now an MLB special adviser, said managers will have to “rely on their integrity” and not cause delays.
“This is an historic opportunity,” he said. “We’re going to monitor it. If somebody plays around with it, they’re going to get called on the carpet.”
Manfred said the initial rules likely won’t be the final ones.
“The system will see some continuing evolution until we get to a point of stability, similar to what you saw in the NFL,” he said.
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