Major League Baseball owners have agreed to test two different advanced replay systems live during games starting next week, and if they prove accurate they could precede an overhaul of the system for the 2013 season, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
MLB will analyze a radar-based system and a camera-based system, both similar to the one used in tennis for down-the-line fair-or-foul calls. Yankee Stadium and Citi Field will be the guinea-pig parks for the systems, which have been installed recently.
The use of the systems will be strictly in the background and for analysis. Because the number of questionable plays during games is likely to be limited, MLB plans to do extra testing on non-game days. Before implementing the technology in its 30 ballparks, the league wants to ensure its accuracy is up to standard.
Because of Armando Galarraga's blown perfect game in 2010 and seemingly nightly missed calls, the outcry for replay has grown loud enough that it forced MLB to at least consider a wide-ranging proposal presented at the owners' meetings this week in Denver. While they have balked at the cost of instituting replay – estimates range from $30 million to $40 million for infrastructure and equipment, plus the salaries for 15 extra umpires if indeed MLB uses one in a replay booth – owners did give the go-ahead to assess the new systems.
Currently, baseball uses replay only for boundary calls – mainly limited to home runs and fan interference. The sport's new collective-bargaining agreement called for expanded replay on fair-or-foul calls as well as trapped balls.
Even though some high-ranking baseball officials remain dubious on replay – commissioner Bud Selig said at the All-Star Game "nobody is anxious to increase instant replay" – there is a groundswell of support to at least quell the perception that baseball is ignoring the available technologies.
The onus now is on the systems to perform well enough they track within a fraction of an inch balls traveling more than 100 mph.
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