MLB Set For Full Season Of Replay - Fans Want More - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

MLB Set For Full Season Of Replay - Fans Want More

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Hours before Game 1 of the World Series, a Major League Baseball official gazed at the catwalks above Tropicana Field and wondered: What if a high fly hits a beam, rattles around and two balls come tumbling down?

To hear many fans tell it, they know what they'd want.


Fresh from a rookie tryout last year, instant replay is a full-season feature in 2009. Umpires can view a video feed on possible home runs, to check for fair-or-foul and see whether they actually left the park.

But with TV already providing the K-Zone and multiple looks at most every call, there's bound to be a push to try it even more. The NFL and NBA did, after all.

A new Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll of fans, in fact, shows that's exactly what they prefer.

The nationwide survey done in late March found that 80 percent of fans like replay and 63 percent would expand its use. Of those favoring an increase, 93 percent want it for plays on the bases and 59 percent want it for balls and strikes.

"If you're going to do instant replay on all of that, you might as well get robots to do all the games," Seattle designated hitter Mike Sweeney said.

Of the major pro sports, baseball was by far the last to get in tune with the modern technology. Commissioner Bud Selig approved replay only after a spate of blown calls last summer, and it went into effect Aug. 28.

Seven calls went to replay - none in the postseason - and two were overturned. It was tried once at the World Baseball Classic in Miami, but the umpires couldn't see the video and they reversed the original call on their own.

Even at the risk of getting it wrong, many in baseball oppose more replay.

"We're human. That's what makes baseball the best sport in the world. We don't have instant replay. People make mistakes, and that's just how baseball is," Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips said.

"You can go back and be like, 'What if this would have happened? What if that would have happened?' That's the best thing about baseball. Football and basketball, now they've got all the instant replays and you go and check the time and all that stuff. Baseball just goes off human instincts. I'm not really for it," he said.

Former umpire Steve Palermo, now an MLB supervisor, said he hasn't heard any umpires rail against replay. Some even consider it a safety net on tricky plays.

Don Denkinger, who had a long, solid career as an umpire, is most identified with a missed call at first base during the 1985 World Series. Privately, umpires talk about wanting to avoid Denkinger's fate - then again, that call still wouldn't be reviewable.

There were a couple of muffed calls on the bases during last year's World Series, but a perfect video system for such plays doesn't yet exist.

And more replay would likely stir up at least some umps - and others at MLB, too.

"The commissioner has said he's reluctant to go any further," Palermo said.

Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore agreed.

"Where do you draw the line? Do you use it just on foul balls or decide if it over a line for a home run? What about other calls? They can be just as important to the outcome of a game," he said.

Watching an Indians game at spring training in Arizona, fan Rocco Stavole of Bakersfield, Calif., wasn't sure.

"This country is fixated on cameras for everything and cameras don't always show the true story," he said.

Added New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada: "There's certain plays that you want to see, like a bang-bang play at first base. Usually replay is the only way. The naked eye I don't think can see it."

Paul Hawkins said baseball shouldn't focus solely on what cameras can see. He developed the Hawk-Eye replay that is so popular in Grand Slam tennis, and his systems are used in international cricket and have been tested in British soccer.

"The correct approach is for MLB to forget about technologies. They do not need to worry about how something is done, all they need to do is decide what they want," Hawkins said by e-mail from his home in England.

"If they decide that human error is part of the game, then they should not adopt technology, regardless of what it is capable of. If they decide that technology should be used if it can meet various criteria, then they should decide what those criteria are, and then allow technology companies to present solutions which meet those criteria," he said.

The NFL started using replay in 1986 and has expanded its use over the years to include coaches' challenges. The NBA now employs replay to check on several kinds of calls, and the NHL and NCAA employ it.

Cleveland closer Kerry Wood was with the Chicago Cubs when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball at Wrigley Field during the 2003 NL playoffs. Under the current system, that play couldn't be reviewed.

"Obviously a call down the foul line, we all remember what happened with the Cubs in the playoffs, that's good place to use it. But you have to use it quickly," Wood said.

"In the end, my comment on instant replay would be that I think the game of baseball has been pretty darn good without it for over 100 years. Calls are what they are and you live with them."

So for now, even with a majority of fans wanting more, no extra look.

The replay questions were part of a poll conducted March 24-29 and involved online interviews with 719 adults who said they were interested in Major League Baseball. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

The poll was conducted over the Internet by Knowledge Networks, which initially contacted people using traditional telephone and mail-based polling methods and followed with online interviews. For those initially contacted who do not have Internet access, Knowledge Networks provides Internet access.


AP Sports Writers Tim Booth and Joe Kay and AP freelance writers Chuck Murr and Mark Didtler contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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