BALTIMORE -- The Orioles joined the popular sentiment around baseball on Friday, voicing their approval of the plan to impose expanded instant replay beginning in the 2014 season.
"It's kind of like the Wild Card and different things, by gosh, why didn't we do this before?" manager Buck Showalter said of the proposed changes, which include replays for nearly everything except balls and strikes. "I think that's what we'll see. I know Joe Torre and Tony La Russa and people who've worked with them have put a lot of time in. I know talking to us as a coaching staff, we've had input the past couple of springs. I knew the capability they had. They can take it as far as you want to take it. When you have to watch a replay three times to see if it's right or wrong, it shows you the challenge they have. I can't imagine a harder sport to umpire or officiate."
The owners of every Major League Baseball club will formally vote on the issue at their next meetings in Orlando, Fla., in November. And the changes must also be negotiated with both the Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association, although the use of review for fair-foul and trap plays was incorporated into the most recent Basic Agreement.
"Being part of the players union, you definitely got to put it up to a vote, I think it's going to expand the games a little bit longer, but if they can get calls in crucial situations right, I think that's what we all want," said center fielder Adam Jones. "Me, I'm a person who just always thought baseball was human error anyway. But I think how technology has advanced, people want the calls right nowadays. So, whatever they are trying to do to help out the game, I'm for it."
"I sit out there in the field and talk to umpires all the time, and they don't want to be embarrassed. They are not trying to make bad calls, I think most of them are in favor of getting it right," said second baseman Brian Roberts. "Now with all the media coverage that's out there, every bad call they make, they get hammered for it. And I don't think that's necessarily fair. The game is fast, the game is getting even faster, and to be able to make every call right is darn near impossible. But there's so much riding on those calls that, why wouldn't we allow them to get it right as best as we can?"
One of the highlights of the new system is that a review will be initiated when a manager informs the umpire that he wants to challenge a play. He will be allowed one challenge in the first six innings and two more from the seventh through the end of the game. If the manager wins his appeal, he retains the challenge, although the challenge from the first six innings does not carry over.
Not all plays are reviewable, and the list of exactly which plays fall into each category hasn't been finalized pending further talks with the unions. One of the biggest drawbacks to the new system would be lengthening the game, which is something baseball has worked hard to combat in recent years.
"Football, it can take up to five minutes [to review a play] as you've seen and prolong the game," Jones said. "It can be big momentum shifts. So, hopefully if it passes, it happens quickly in the instance that something does happen."
Roberts was confident that MLB would find a way to keep the flow of the game intact even with the added reviews.
"I don't think anybody has really complained about homer calls," he said of the recent addition of home run replay. "That's usually pretty quick. You got a minute maybe, tops. And everybody is back to doing what they do and fans are happy, players are happy, coaches are happy. I don't think it's really affecting anything.
"When you are talking about having four or five or six [reviewed plays] in a game, that's something you do have to be cognizant of, is how much time it does take. But I can't see why four calls would take 30 minutes to get it right with the kind of technology we have."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less