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Finally, baseball has a real appetite for expanding replay

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Remember when Bud Selig dismissed the idea that baseball absolutely needs to greatly expand its use of instant replay?

Remember when the commissioner said "the appetite for more replay in the sport is very low"?

You might remember, because it was only July. You might remember, but you might as well forget it.

The appetite for more replay is growing, to the point where MLB executive vice president Joe Torre spent Wednesday morning discussing it with general managers, and Wednesday afternoon speaking about it publicly.

He guaranteed nothing, but he left the door open for almost anything.

Fair/foul calls? Definitely.

Plays at the bases? Trapped balls? Possibly.

A new system in place ready to go by opening day? Could be.

"If we don't [expand replay in 2013], it won't be for a lack of effort," Torre said.

Baseball already uses replay on home runs, to determine fan interference or whether a ball cleared the fence or not. And baseball has already tested two systems that could be used on fair/foul calls.

"We're looking at more than that," Torre said Wednesday.

Good.

Is there anything more ridiculous in baseball than all of us quickly seeing a replay that proves the umpire got the call wrong, and the only guy who isn't allowed to see it is also the only guy who could change the call and make it right?

The details of a replay system are still as complicated as ever. While others have suggested an NFL-style challenge system, Torre doesn't like it.

"I'm not sure I want to put another lump of coal in the manager's stocking," he said.

What seems more likely is a system where there is either another umpire sitting upstairs with the ability to change a call, or a central office where calls could be monitored and changed if necessary.

Much of this would need to be negotiated with the players and the umpires, but as Torre said, it's in everyone's interest to get as many calls right as possible.

For all the talk about the "human element," no one really likes it when the story of a game is the story of a bad call.

"I certainly don't want the conversation to be about a missed call that we could have gotten right, and not about the game," Torre said.

Torre admitted that the missed call at second base in the Tigers-Yankees Division Series has stuck with him.

More replay isn't yet a certainty. A lot still needs to be agreed on, and a lot of people still need to sign off on it.

But more than ever, baseball seems headed to expanded replay, possibly to greatly expanded replay.

"You want to do what's going to make the game better," Torre said.

Is anyone going to complain about that?

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