OAKLAND -- Fans watching baseball games at home can often see within a matter of seconds whether an umpire made a right or wrong call on a close play. Indians manager Terry Francona is pleased that Major League Baseball wants to increase the number of correct rulings.
The Indians enjoyed an off-day on Thursday, when MLB unveiled a plan to revise the use of instant replay for the 2014 season. Prior to Friday's game against the A's, Francona had plenty of questions about the proposed managerial challenge system, but he liked the direction the discussion was going.
"With technology getting so good, I like the idea of getting plays right," Francona said. "I hope that they come up with a system where the game doesn't drag out."
A committee of Braves president John Schuerholz and former managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa presented a plan that would include one managerial challenge within the first six innings of a game, plus two additional challenges from the seventh inning to the end of a game. Not all plays would be reviewable, and managers could not argue situations that could be reviewed.
All replays would be reviewed by umpires at the MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York.
The proposed plan still needs to be negotiated and approved by both the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association. MLB owners will also vote on the issue at the next meetings in November in Orlando, Fla.
"I think it's great, I really do. I think it'll be helpful," said 42-year-old veteran Jason Giambi. "I think it'll take some pressure off [the umpires], especially the way television is now with the replay and how they can break it down. I mean, they can slow it down to like a millisecond now. It's a joke.
"And, of course, if they get a call wrong, that's all they see the next day, especially if it hurts a game or plays a differerence in the game. I think those guys work too hard to constantly be ridiculed all the time. They do have the toughest job in the game, they really do. If they have a great game, you don't hear anything about them."
Francona said one of his concerns is hearing more detail on how and when a manager can argue calls, because "every manager is going to try to come up with a way to exploit it to their [advantage], which you're supposed to."
Francona added that, in his opinion, one solution to the instant-replay debate could be to simply have an umpire stationed in a replay booth at the ballpark for each game.
"I wish they had the fifth umpire," Francona said. "That would be great. Just put him up in the booth and, just like college football, if it needs to be changed, change it. It would take 10 seconds. But, again, I'm not in charge and probably never will be."