GMs split 15-15 on whether to explore replay

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Upon further review, baseball will
hold off on taking a look at instant replay.

After watching umpires reverse almost every missed call in the
postseason, major league general managers split 15-15 Thursday on
whether to keep exploring the subject.

"Based on that vote, it's unlikely we'll do anything
substantive in the next year to pursue instant replay," MLB
executive vice president Sandy Alderson said.

The NFL, NBA and NHL all use some form of replay. Baseball
commissioner Bud Selig is adamantly against it and can veto any
proposal by anyone to give it a try.

"I understand that vote today, that there are people who want
to keep looking at it," Selig said. "I'm not afraid to change.
You never say never.

"But the humanness of the umpires is part of the game," he
said. "I'm satisfied where it is. I just don't think it would be a
positive addition."

Replay opponents got a boost in October when umpires overturned
a pair of rulings in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series. TV gave
fans a clear view of what happened -- once the six umps huddled, it
came into focus for them, too, and Alex Rodriguez was declared out
because of interference on one play and Mark Bellhorn got a home
run on the other.

"Had they gotten those calls wrong, would there have been more
interest in pursuing instant replay? There might've been,"
Alderson said.

With that issue over for now, GMs turned their attention back to
the main business at hand. That is, looking at trades and free

Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa seemed to interest the New York
Mets, and those teams talked for a second straight day, holding a
late-afternoon session. Randy Johnson may want to leave the
cost-cutting Arizona Diamondbacks for a contender. And there was
speculation the Texas Rangers would consider dealing Alfonso

"Once you get to a second meeting, things can happen," Mets GM
Omar Minaya said.

Roger Clemens and Pat Hentgen became the last two of 207 players
to file for free agency. Starting Friday, clubs can talk money with
any free agent.

The New York Yankees, as always, figure to be extremely active.
Their immediate targets will be center fielder Carlos Beltran and
pitchers Carl Pavano, Eric Milton and Ron Villone.

Other teams packed up and headed home from the session that
began Monday. The gathering ends Friday morning, with a briefing
from MLB security head Kevin Hallinan on issues related to
kidnapping concerns in other countries, and a few other topics.

Alderson and umpire supervisor Rich Rieker made a presentation
to the GMs on Thursday, showing that nine-inning games were played
in an average of 2 hours, 47 minutes, up a minute from 2003.

In something that could someday lead to a speed up, the Arizona
Fall League is experimenting with a rule requiring hitters to keep
one foot in the batter's box, rather than stepping out after each
pitch. The penalty is an automatic strike, and Alderson said the
rule might get a tryout in a low minor league next season.

Alderson said that according to the QuesTec computer system,
umpires correctly called more than 93 percent of the 120,026
pitches that were either judged balls or strikes. And they said
that all 68 umpires met the expected standard of at least 90

The percentage was much more mixed when it came to instant
replay, which could be used on "boundary calls" -- whether a ball
was fair or foul, or whether it cleared a wall or not.

Cincinnati Reds GM Dan O'Brien spoke in favor, Expos GM Jim
Bowden spoke against.

"I was the first one for it, back when the NFL went to replay
about seven years ago. The first time it came up for a vote, I was
the only one who voted for it," Bowden said. "But now, the
umpires showed they can get it right. There are no egos anymore,
with an umpire standing on his call."

Said O'Brien: "It's still unresolved."

Along with the Rodriguez and Bellhorn plays, umpires reversed a
ruling in Game 1 of the opening round between New York and
Minnesota, taking away a home run from the Yankees' Ruben Sierra
after his foul ball initially was called fair.

The only postseason play the umpires missed after a huddle came
in Game 3 of the NL first-round series between St. Louis and Los

Dodgers pitcher Jose Lima bunted, and the ball bounced up and
again hit his bat as he left the batter's box, meaning it should
have been ruled a foul ball or he should have been called out.
Instead, the play continued and Lima reached base when the Cardinals
missed on a force play at second base.

As for future GMs votes on replay, Alderson said, it's "year to