The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE — While baseball is still refusing to fully embrace video replay, another sport with balls and strikes is getting on board. The Professional Bowlers Association will begin using replay to resolve disputed calls.
For competitors who value pinpoint accuracy, it’s a move that’s right up their alley.
“Everybody wants to win, but nobody wants to win by an unfairly judged call,” said PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III, who was involved in a controversy over the impromptu use of replay during an event in 1999 that led to players voting it out of the sport.
The introduction of replay on a permanent basis isn’t expected to be a major change for bowling because officials don’t anticipate many situations where reviews will be needed. There have been only a handful of disputes in recent memory that might have warranted a second look.
One area is foul line infractions, when a bowler’s foot slips past the line that marks the beginning of the lane as he delivers the ball. There also can be issues if a pinsetting machine knocks over a pin, which isn’t supposed to count.
“It doesn’t happen often,” says PBA vice president and tour director Kirk von Krueger. “But it does happen.”
Those calls currently are made by officials, along with an electronic eye that helps determine fouls. Now they’ll be subject to video review at the tournament director’s discretion, although only at events that are being covered by television.
Players voted replay out in 1999, after officials used a replay on the spot to rule that Bohn committed a foul in a match against Pete Weber. Bohn was unhappy with use of replay in that situation but he’s in favor of it today, and so are fellow bowlers. The measure will go into use when the season starts later this month.
“It really helps make a decision cut and dried,” Bohn said. “And that’s what really matters.”
The move puts the PBA Tour in line with other sports where replay is an accepted fact of life.
Major League Baseball began trying replay on a limited basis in late 2008, using it only to review potential home runs. By that point, most other major sports employed some form of video review.
Now some in baseball are calling for expanded use of instant replay after umpires missed several calls in the divisional playoffs this week.
After Rays manager Joe Maddon argued a close call and got ejected Thursday, fans chanted, “Replay! Replay!”
“I believe it speaks to the point of the fact that you’re (going) to see more discussions and eventually the implementation of more instant replay in our game,” Maddon said.
It’s here now in bowling. And while the use of replay review will be the tournament director’s decision, von Krueger said bowlers can lobby for reviews — even if they don’t have little red flags to toss, like in the NFL.
“A player could actually contest it, (saying) ‘Hey, he fouled, and the official didn’t catch it,’” von Krueger said.
An unseen foul was the critical issue in the title match of an event in Austin, Texas in 1999, when Bohn appeared to foul on a spare attempt against Weber.
Von Krueger was tournament director at the time and reviewed instant replay of the shot during the next commercial break, ruled that Bohn had fouled and negated the spare. Bohn said he was livid because the call was made well after play continued.
“I pretty much blew my gasket at that point,” Bohn said.
In the wake of the controversy, PBA players voted against any future use of instant replay. Now it’s back, and Bohn is fully on board.
“It’s really not a major difference for us,” Bohn said. “It’s an enhancement to make sure the correct call is made.”