Friday, February 25, 2011

How will old-school Torre fare at MLB?

So it's official. Former New York Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre will work for Bud Selig and Major League Baseball. I'm looking forward to seeing how an old-school guy like Torre will deal with the major issues that baseball will be facing over the next few years.

I don’t imagine Torre wants to tamper with the game he loves so much, but in truth there are significant problems that definitely need to be addressed. Instant replay is a great example. I don’t know whether baseball umpiring is getting worse or technology just makes it much easier to catch their mistakes. But the demand for replay is going to get louder with every blown call in a major game, particularly one that costs a team a chance for the playoffs or advancing to the World Series. It’s already cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game. (BTW, I remain firmly committed to my boycott of MLB Network until Galarraga's perfect game is restored, even though I don’t think it’s going to happen now, and Selig reconsiders the use of instant replay in baseball).

I hope that Torre comes down in favor of instant replay, but it’s not a given. Old-school guys like Torre generally tend to think the game is fine just the way it is. But I think it needs to evolve with the times and replay is just one way of doing that. Selig has been resistant to the idea of expanded use of instant replay due to its impact on the pace of baseball games. But I think Torre could convince him of its merits if they can come up with a workable mechanism (limit a manager’s ability to request a replay to one play per game and specifically bar replays on ball and strike calls). But Torre may need convincing himself.

I do like the idea of an ex-manager of Torre’s stature being Selig’s right-hand man. Selig has been quite stubborn on certain issues, but Torre definitely has the credibility and the people skills to talk him into things. Just as long as Torre doesn’t let his image of the game he played and managed get in the way of changes this sport desperately needs to make.

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