Umps currently cool on replay, boycott conference call with MLB

NEW YORK -- Umpires want baseball to take another look at instant replay.

Umps said their governing board voted Tuesday to boycott a conference call with management intended to discuss implementing replay, angry that their concerns aren't being addressed.

Major League Baseball responded by saying it canceled the Wednesday call because it doesn't have a replay agreement with the union.

"A lot of the procedural issues necessary for instant replay to be implemented need to be worked out," World Umpires Association spokesman Lamell McMorris said. "Major League Baseball needs to step up to the plate and iron out these issues."

Umpires say they're unhappy that replay equipment is being installed away from the field in nearly all major league ballparks and say MLB wants to limit the number of umpires allowed to review replay monitors.

They also aren't pleased that MLB wants them to discuss the replays with umpire supervisors in New York before making a decision on whether to reverse a call. They claim MLB may not be able to provide replays for some rescheduled games.

"I'm not going to go through these one by one. I will tell you that on a number of them, the comments are simply not accurate," said Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations. "For example, we've had an understanding with the WUA for some time that the crew chief and the crew chief only would be the one responsible for reviewing the video and making the decision on instant replay.

"There are other issues that remain to be worked out. It is my general policy that I don't comment when I'm trying to bargain but I remain confident that we're gong to be able to make a deal."

Baseball has started installing equipment in ballparks, hoping to get a replay system up and running this month. It would be used for boundary calls, such as determining whether balls cleared fences for home runs and whether potential homers near foul poles were fair.

McMorris said that other than at Chase Field in Phoenix, the equipment will cause umpires to leave the field.

"Thus, there will be a lack of transparency and obviousness for the public as to what is going on when instant replay is under way," he said.

McMorris said the procedures and limitations were proposed by Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations.

"There may be situations where the umpires will have to leave the field in shifts so that everyone can view the video while leaving the requisite number of umpires on the field," McMorris said. "This could create a 'Laurel and Hardy' effect, and may cause delay-of-game problems."

McMorris said Solomon wants some umpires to remain on the field because "he doesn't trust the teams to behave themselves in their absence." McMorris also said MLB hasn't thought about where to place batters and runners after a changed call, or how crew chiefs will communicate decisions to the teams, official scorer, media and fans.

McMorris maintained Solomon originally wanted only an umpire supervisor to review replays, but that umpires objected and said they wanted to see the video for themselves. In addition, McMorris said MLB hasn't figured out how to secure the cabinets where the equipment is stored, claiming that in some ballparks the location is in public areas.

"The umpires raised concerns and brought potential problems to Solomon's attention at least six weeks ago," McMorris said.

Solomon did not return a call seeking comment and was en route to Beijing, MLB spokesman Rich Levin said.