The union representing the umpires for Major League Baseball has voted to boycott a Wednesday conference call with management to discuss implementing instant replay, angry that their concerns are not being met.
According to the league, the conference call has been canceled due to not yet reaching an agreement with the MLB Players Association, which has not yet signed off on the deal either.
World Umpires Association spokesman Lamell McMorris said, “A lot of the procedural issues necessary for instant replay to be implemented need to be worked out.” McMorris added that MLB needed to iron out details.
The umpiress are upset over the fact that umps at the games are to be made to discuss matters with umpire supervisors who will be in a “war room” in New York before overturning any calls.
The situation appears to place an August target date for putting instant replay into place in jeopardy. As reported by Ronald Blum of The AP:
“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.”
There are other technical issues to deal with. For example, at Chase Field in Phoenix, the equipment is located where the umpires will have to leave the field. That brings about an integrity issue, claims McMorris.
“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.
While management is saying that they’ll be able to reach an agreement, looking at the calendar suggests the league may be hard pressed to meet the reported August timeframe for getting instant replay games in the books.