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Umpire's Gaffe Fuels Talk of Expanding Replay System

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From News Services and Staff Reports
Monday, October 12, 2009

When Major League Baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, introduced an instant replay system one year ago, he emphasized its limited scope. It was for disputed home runs only, at the discretion of the crew chief.

As a result, the blown call from left field umpire Phil Cuzzi on Friday never had a chance to be changed.

Cuzzi, in the 11th inning of Game 2 between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins, called a foul when in fact Joe Mauer's liner had landed a foot fair. Crew chief Tim Tschida's only recourse: After the game, he admitted the mistake.

That crucial moment was still reverberating days later, not just because it hurt the Twins' chances of climbing back into the series, but because it revived talk from at least some corners for an expanded replay system.

Minnesota Manager Ron Gardenhire said he favored a system in which teams could request a replay challenge by throwing a flag. "Give me a red flag and we can fix this stuff," Gardenhire said.

If Selig ever considers alterations to the current system, he will again face some tricky questions. If fair and foul calls are up for debate, what else is subject to review? How many times could a team challenge a call?

"I might be dangerous with that red flag," Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. "I just think it really breaks the rhythm of the game. You know, during the course of the year everything is usually going to balance out. And how many red flags would you be allowed to throw? The rhythm is important to your pitchers, and I just think it would really hurt that."

Twins' Gómez Benched

One game after his base-running error prevented a Minnesota run, center fielder Carlos Gómez found himself back on the bench Sunday night.

As part of the shuffling, Jason Kubel moved back into the outfield and José Morales was used as the designated hitter.

Tracy Juggles Lineup

Colorado Manager Jim Tracy juggled the Rockies' lineup Sunday for Game 3 of the series with Philadelphia, with Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ on the mound instead of Pedro Martínez.

Tracy benched all-star right fielder Brad Hawpe, who has slumped over the second half of the season, and replaced him with Ryan Spilborghs for Game 3, which was bumped back a night because of a snowstorm.

Tracy also moved catcher Yorvit Torrealba up two spots to fifth in the order, hoping to put his hottest bat behind Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki, who have yet to get into an offensive groove in this series.

"I guess it's because I showed them some power Thursday," said Torrealba, whose two-run homer in Game 2 was his first since May 6. "I'd bat ninth behind the pitcher if I had to. All that matters is I'm playing."

La Russa Ponders 2010

Tony La Russa is not certain he wants to return for a 15th season as St. Louis Cardinals manager. For one thing, he didn't expect to begin so soon the decision-making process that begins every time his contract expires.

The Cardinals were the first National League team to clinch a division title, loaded with star power in the lineup and two Cy Young candidates at the top of a strong rotation. They were the first team to go home after getting swept in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

La Russa fully intended to be managing the team in Game 4 on Sunday instead of packing for his trip home to the West Coast. He was disappointed in his team's response after Matt Holliday's dropped flyball for what would have been the final out in Game 2, allowing the Dodgers to rally and then put away a reeling team with a 5-1 victory Saturday in St. Louis.

"I've just started thinking about it," La Russa said while attempting to organize his cluttered office at Busch Stadium. "I really thought we'd make a series of it."

The 65-year-old La Russa asks himself the same questions: Does ownership want me back? Do the players want me back? After all these years, are they still responding to his brand of leadership?

"Is what you're saying not helpful?" La Russa said. "Those thoughts go through your mind."

General Manager John Mozeliak said La Russa has a job if he wants one but hadn't spoken with the manager about the future.

Dodgers Rest, Look Ahead

The NLCS doesn't start until Thursday, giving Los Angeles a welcome break after finishing its three-game sweep of the Cardinals on Saturday night.

There's no need for the Dodgers to rejigger the rotation, or worry about who's going to be healthy or not. Just plenty of time to rest and look ahead to what might be, while the Phillies and Rockies play in the Colorado snow in the other NL division series.

"This isn't where we want to be," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "Everyone's thinking about the second plateau, then the World Series."


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