Torre encouraged by progress of instant replay
Executive VP of baseball operations expects process to become even 'smoother'
MILWAUKEE -- Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, said on Friday that he has been pleased by the league-wide rollout of instant replay and added that he expects the system to continue improving as the season progresses.
"I think the instant replay is going well," Torre said. "I think it's probably going to get smoother because starting next month, the umpires will be going through for the second time. The first time around, even though they had some practice, they want to make sure that they study it when they see all those angles. I think it's gone well."
When a play is challenged on the field, contact is made with Major League Baseball Advanced Media's headquarters in New York, where an umpire reviews available footage and relays a ruling to the crew at the stadium.
Torre said that although there have been some early hiccups with the system, he and MLB have been encouraged. Torre said that Tuesday's game between the Giants and Pirates at PNC Park, which was decided by an instant replay with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, serves as validation of the system's success.
In that contest, Pittsburgh's Starling Marte slid into home plate. San Francisco catcher Buster Posey slapped a tag on him, and home-plate umpire Quinn Wolcott called Marte out. Bucs manager Clint Hurdle challenged the call; it took 74 seconds for it to be overturned, giving the Pirates a 2-1 victory over San Francisco.
"I watched that and it was pretty wild," Torre said. "When you consider a few years ago when we watched Jerry Meals miss that play at the plate [in a July 26, 2011, game between the Braves and Pirates] and you couldn't do anything about it.
"We watched this one the other day, and some angles you couldn't tell, and then the one angle seemed pretty conclusive that Buster tagged the ground. ... I thought it was pretty cool. It's a little wild waiting there and then all of a sudden, hooray! That's a little crazy. But I think it's working."
Torre said that he has also noticed catchers and runners adapting to the experimental Rule 7.13, also known as the home-plate collision rule, which prompted some early confusion and is intended to increase player safety by eliminating "egregious" collisions at home plate.
"The one thing I have noticed since the start of the season is more and more catchers are waiting for the play to develop without being on the plate or blocking the plate," Torre said. "Sometimes their instincts take them there initially maybe a little bit early. For the most part, I think they're setting up a lot better than they did earlier in the year.
"The collision play at the plate has been a little more complicated, because we knew it would be. It's a constant, ongoing thing. The only positive -- we had one violation -- but it's the fact that more guys are sliding. There haven't been any devastating collisions, even though they're allowed to do that, which from a health standpoint has been good."
Torre said that he believes the umpires, as a whole, have done a good job with the changes. He had some initial concern about how the crews would handle the new system, but their flexibility has exceeded his expectations.
"The umpires are getting more comfortable," Torre said. "I had a lot of questions [about], how are these umpires going to feel about somebody telling them that they missed something and then not even seeing it? It's been good. It's really been good. We've had some veteran umpires have their calls overturned by young umpires. It's been seamless in that regard."