Getting baseball over the ump

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While we’ve apparently gone past the point of any way to introduce expanded instant replay for the 2009 World Series, which begins in a few hours from Yankee Stadium, it shouldn’t preclude those at Fox Sports from at least letting the MLB decision-makers know that the technology is in place to make it happen, should they choose to explore it.

Ed Goren, the Fox Sports executive producer and president, isn’t neither going to gently nudge, nor strong advice, the MLB on how it should do this from here, lest he be mistaken for someone who cares about the game’s future and its integrity beyond obviously blown calls by umpires throughout these playoffs.

“We don’t have a say in this,” said Goren. “We televise the games. When the NFL decided on replay, it wasn’t the network going to the NFL. Whatever the rules are, they are what they are. It’s a baseball issue and we leave it at that.”

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That’s for the record. Off the record, Fox and TBS be best showing MLB that it can turn around a disputed call within seconds based on its technology and replay machines on hand for playoff games. That’s Bud Selig’s strongest protest — replays will slow the game up even more. But it doesn’t have to — evidenced by the fact at how fast Fox was able to expose three blown calls in the ALCS Game 4 at Angels Stadium, two of them by crewchief Tim McClelland.

As Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal will likely point out on tonight’s telecast (4:30 p.m., Channel 11) as many as a dozen top-notch umps are not available to work these playoffs because of injuries. Seven of them are crew chiefs. There’s also an unusual rule that prevents umps from working two consective series in a row, from divisional series, to championship series, to World Series. Meaning, your best guys are likely in the ALDS and NLDS, so they can also do a World Series. And you’re lower level rewards are going to guys in the ALCS and NLCS? How is that a good thing?

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Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who’ll be part of the Fox pre- and post-game studio analysis from the gamesite, doesn’t sound as if he’s pushing for expanded replay. Maybe he just enjoys the art of arguing more with the men in blue.

“I was pushing for the home run (fair or foul) replay because that was something we needed,” Guillen said this week. “I trust the umpires. We can’t make the game a computer TV game. The fans have to respect that. Sometimes (wrong calls) make for good baseball, and the fans can disagree. That’s a positive for our game for so many years. My only problems with the umps is if they make a mistake, they should move on. It’s to early to put extra replays into the game.”

Goren expanded on his earlier thoughts about replay, especially for the postseason versus the regular season: “(The game) is certainly dramatically different in the postseason. Like the umpires who go out and want to get the calls right, our version is that if there’s a bang-bang play and something is questionable, we hope to have the definitive angle. In the regular season with fewer cameras and tape machines, and sometimes the local broadcastes vary from market to market, there’d be no consistency now. But let’s say we have the same issue in the NFL. How many times has a coach challenged a call and there was not enough evidence on the replay to overturn it? Most times, the play stands as called.”

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