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Baseball's blown calls renew instant replay debate

The 'human element' of making mistakes is part of the game, some say, even in the postseason. But relationship between umpires and players will be a focus of a meeting Dec. 3.

October 08, 2010|By Bill Shaikin

Reporting from San Francisco — The refrain is a familiar one. After television replays expose a blown call, Commissioner Bud Selig insists there is no great outcry among players and club officials for increased use of instant replay to review calls.

And, on the day after the National League division series opener between the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves was heavily influenced by a blown call, there was no great outcry at AT&T Park.

"You're taking everything that's great out of baseball — the human element," Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said Friday.

Players, umpires and representatives of the commissioner's office are scheduled to meet Dec. 3, according to an ESPN report. The meeting is expected to focus on ways to ease what players perceive as an increasingly antagonistic relationship with umpires, not on instant replay, a baseball source not authorized to speak publicly told The Times.

The Giants beat the Braves, 1-0, on Thursday, with Buster Posey scoring the lone run. Replays appeared to show Posey had been thrown out trying to steal second, but he was called safe.

"I guess it's a good thing we don't have instant replay right now," Posey said after the game.

Even after the Braves were wronged, Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox said Friday he is not convinced additional replay is in order.

"I'm talking to more and more people that say we should have some type of review on plays," Cox said. "I'm not so sure it's a good idea, to be honest with you. I know it cost us [Thursday] night, but I would have to see the system."

Cox wondered whether the system would involve a manager's challenge. His players did not protest the call at the time, so he said he had no way to know it was not correct.

"If they have instant replay where you get a challenge or whatever you want to call it, I'm not sure I would have done it," Cox said, "unless somebody is running down from [the clubhouse to the dugout] that had seen it on TV."

If baseball were to implement a system that would rely on umpires and/or replay officials to review questionable plays — rather than grant challenges to managers — Atlanta catcher Brian McCann said he would worry about excessive delays in the game.

"To hold up a pitcher to take five minutes on a call, I don't think that would be good," McCann said. "But, if you could get it quick, everybody would like the right call being made."

Baseball limits replay use to disputed home runs -- that is, to determine whether a ball was fair or foul, whether it cleared the fence or whether a fan interfered with it.

"You start talking about throwing a flag every time there is a questionable call … and we're talking five-hour games then," Huff said. "Nobody wants to do that.

"The big plays are the home runs. Those are big game-changers, and those are the ones you have to get right. These guys out there are doing their best, and they're human, and we're human. And you start messing with instant replay, then you're changing the history of the game, which made the game so great."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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