TORONTO -- Daniel Nava has twice been the center of controversial calls against the Red Sox this season, so it's no surprise that he welcomed the news that Major League Baseball is preparing to expand instant replay procedures. While Nava was pleased that the sport is taking steps to ensure that the correct calls are being made, he also had nothing but respect for the umpires' role.
"You never want to take the human element out of the game. That's what makes baseball baseball," Nava said. "[The human element] is what makes the game great, I don't like to see it tampered with too much. There's got to be a give. There's always going to be a gray area, we know that."
If the proposed replay system was in place for this season, then Red Sox manager John Farrell could have challenged the play July 29 when Nava was called out at the plate on what would've been the game-tying run in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Rays. Or, Farrell could've challenged the umpire's call on June 23 when Nava was ruled to have dropped a fly ball in a 7-5 loss to the Tigers.
Under the proposed 2014 replay rules, Farrell could've used one of his three challenges (one in the first six innings and two for the rest of the game) on those calls, and perhaps Nava would've been called safe, or it would've been judged that Nava made the catch and just fumbled the ball on the transfer to his hand.
Nava, for his part, held no grudges over those two missed calls even though they might have cost his team two wins.
"You just accept it, it's part of the game. Obviously you want the call to go your way but there's sometimes you're on the other side of the coin," Nava said. "The call goes your way and you're ecstatic, like, 'Hey, I got away with that one.'
"They [the umpires] do a good job and those calls get amplified by the fact that we have instant replay. If we didn't have that technology, those plays would go down as nothing more than close plays that were made on a quick decision."
Farrell was vocal about increasing the use of replays in the wake of the Tampa Bay loss, and he was pleased that two former managers (MLB vice president Joe Torre and advisor Tony La Russa) were heavily involved on the replay committee and instrumental in forming the new policies.
"I don't know if any manager wants to argue," Farrell said. "Everyone wants calls to be accurate and the human element is always going to be involved but now we have the potential for a system that not only challenges but hopefully gets a higher percentage [of calls] correct."
The expanded replay proposal will be formally voted on at the owners' meetings in November.