Former players react to MLB instant replay changes

New York, NY — Nearly 100 former MLB players, including several Hall of Famers, gathered on Tuesday at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel to support the 2014 “Going to Bat for B.A.T.” dinner to raise money for MLB’s Baseball Assistance Team initiative. Founded in 1986, B.A.T. is dedicated to assisting members of the Baseball Family through financial grants, health care programs and rehabilitative counseling. It has awarded more than $29 million in grants to date benefiting more than 3,100 members of the Baseball Family.

Before the organization’s 25th annual fundraiser, media in attendance talked with former players about some of the hot topics in the game today, including the expansion of instant replay for the 2014 season. Here’s a roundup of what several former MLB All-Stars had to say about this important change to the game.

Roberto Alomar — (Padres, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox, Diamondbacks, 1988-2004: 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee)

“I think it will be good for the game. I know there’s going to be some people who are disappointed, there’s going to be people who are glad that they have replays. But in the end I think it’s what is best to get the right call and in the end gonna benefit both sides the umpires and players. I think it’s good for baseball and we’ll see how it goes.”

Steve Garvey (Dodgers, Padres, 1969-1987); B.A.T. Dinner Chairman

“We’re all waiting to see how long it’s going to take. I probably equate it to tennis where they have the eye and it really gets down to millimeters now and you really get a true version of it. But it might not be that simple.”

On whether replay would have impacted a major play in Garvey’s career:

“What was the name — Reggie Jackson? When he stuck out his hip and deflected the ball and it vanished on a very simple double play [in Game 4 of the 1978 World Series]. If you get to do that one over again I think you see where it was obstructed and he should have been banned from the game and the rest of his career [laughter].”

Bret Boone (Mariners, Reds, Padres, Braves, Padres, Twins, 1992-2005)

“I don’t think I’m against that now just because I know that these umpires are under such scrutiny and it is tough nowadays with the media and the angles and the quality of the camera and it’s so hard to get things so right. There’s still the human factor to be involved in baseball and I think it should always be there.”

“Balls and strikes I don’t think we should ever go to computer. You need that human element. Just because the computer says it’s a strike necessarily that day maybe it’s not. Maybe it hit the zone at a different angle and something the computer wouldn’t pick up. I think instant replay especially in certain circumstances — home runs that you couldn’t tell. That’s not for me to decide whatever they decide what is the parameters for, where do you draw the line, is everything going to be replayed or certain things that can be replayed.”

“I’m all for getting the call right in a big game, postseason game, it’s critical that you get the call right so I’ve got no problem with that at all.”

Tim Teufel (Twins, Mets, Padres, 1983-1993; Mets third base coach, 2012-present)

“No we haven’t [discussed how we’ll address instant replay as a staff]. That’s more a line from TC [Mets manager Terry Collins]. TC will probably outline that and let us know how it’s all going to run. I’m sure he’s going to have a staff member looking at the videos and being in communication with him in the dugout. I think he’ll handle that and he’s a smart individual and he’ll figure it out. I’m sure he already has a plan in place; what that plan is we haven’t been in contact. I’m not even worried about that. I think that’s one of those things that he’ll handle and do a great job with.”

Rusty Staub (Colt .45s/Astros, Expos, Mets, Tigers, Rangers, 1963-1985)

“I like it. I think many times it’s obvious with the technology of today that you can tell whether someone was safe or out, fair or foul, whatever. To get it right I think it’s a good thing.”

Cleon Jones (Mets, White Sox, 1963-1976)

“There’s always that human error. You and I, we see an automobile accident, somebody asks me what I saw I tell them. Chances are what you saw might be different. And if you had a different angle from me, you probably do see something different. And that’s what happens in baseball, football, basketball and a lot of other sports. You don’t get it right the first time because maybe you had a bad angle. Instant replay would help in my opinion to make a difference. Instead of getting it wrong and thinking about it 20 years ago I should have made a better call, you’ve got an opportunity to make it right by having instant replay. That’s my take on that. I don’t think it’s going to slow the game down. The trial and error will simplify it and get people in the review room and have them analyze them and get it right off.”

On the famous “Shoe Polish Play” in Game 5 of the 1969 World Series and whether replay would have made a difference:

“It depends on the angle! If you ask me did it actually happen? My answer’s yes. The ball hit me and I knew it, but I wanted to hit. I wanted to eat the left-hander up. I wanted to stand up and hit the ball. But it happened. Even with things like that, you’re going to be able to get it right. Then everybody’s satisfied. That’s the deal. Having everybody satisfied.”

Jim Bouton (Yankees, Pilots, Astros, Braves, 1962-1978; author of bestselling book, “Ball Four”)

“I think they’ve done it right. I think it’s limited to certain things and so I think they’ve done that judiciously. I think it’s the right balance. Unfortunately the guy who pitched the perfect game [Armando Galarraga] — on the other hand he’s the one guy who should have had the perfect game and he gets more attention for that than if he’d actually gone ahead and done it. It’s a tough call.”

Photos via Marc Levine/B.A.T. Photos