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NL president: Umpire erred in consulting replay
Posted: Wednesday June 02, 1999 03:56 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Umpires erred in consulting a TV replay to reverse a call and will be barred from doing so in the future, baseball officials said Tuesday.
National League president Len Coleman said umpire Frank Pulli should not have used television to decide that Florida's Cliff Floyd hit a double and not a home run Monday in the fifth inning of the Marlins' 5-2 loss to St. Louis.
Coleman said Pulli, who with 28 years is second in seniority among NL umpires, was "acting in good faith" but made a mistake.
"Use of the video replay is not an acceptable practice," Coleman said. "Part of the beauty of baseball is that it is imperfect. Players make errors. Managers are constantly second-guessed. But the game is played and determined by two teams between the white lines."
Floyd claimed the drive was a homer because it bounced off the facade behind the left-field scoreboard in Miami. Second-base umpire Greg Gibson thought the ball hit off the scoreboard and called it a double, but after the Marlins began to argue, the umpiring crew conferred briefly, and Pulli -- the crew chief and third-base ump -- changed the ruling to a homer.
The Cardinals then protested, and the game was delayed for more than five minutes while Pulli studied replays on a TV camera near the Marlins' dugout. After consulting the replay, Pulli changed the call back to a double.
"Traditionally, baseball has relied on the eyes of the umpires as opposed to any artificial devices for its judgments," Coleman said. "I fully support this policy. Occasionally, however, the umpires too will make mistakes; that is also part of the game."
Floyd, speaking in Miami before Tuesday night's game, agreed with Coleman's decision. He said allowing replays would lead to more arguments.
"You set yourself up for it to happen again, and you're going to have tons of people thrown out of the game. They'll be arguing until they're green in the face," Floyd said. "Most guys make history by hitting two grand slams in a game or something. I make history by hitting a ball that's reviewed on instant replay."
Kent Bottenfield, the winning pitcher in the game, also thought replays were inappropriate.
"I've never cared for it in football," he said. "I'm kind of a traditionalist, and I'd rather not see it in baseball."
American League president Gene Budig agreed with his NL counterpart.
"Major league games are determined between the lines, and electronic assistance is not permitted," Budig said.
The Marlins filed a written protest Tuesday, but because Florida would have gained only one more run if the play had been ruled a homer, it's unlikely the protest will be upheld.
Pulli said he consulted the replay because he became confused about the ground rules. He declined to be more specific.
"A lot of things went through my mind," he said Monday. "I hope I don't have to go to the replay again. I don't want it to become like football."
The NFL had replay from 1986-91 and reinstated it last March after a series of game-deciding calls that replay showed were incorrect. It is limited to out-of-bounds, goal-line and possession calls and is based on a coaches' challenge system.
"It's intended for the crucial, game-deciding play, not the third-and-10 in the first quarter," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said.
The NBA does not allow replays and the NHL allows it only to determine goals. College basketball has allowed officials to use replays to help reset the clock.
In March 1997, soccer's International Board rejected the use of replays by officials, an idea proposed by Germany and Portugal."We are anxious television doesn't take over the game by controlling the referee," said Sepp Blatter, then FIFA's general secretary and now its president. "Football is composed of human beings, human frailties, mistakes and errors. We have to live with that."
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