MLB sticks video replays and expansion on ice

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Calls to expand the use of instant replay in Major League Baseball (MLB) have again fallen on deaf ears despite a blunder last season that robbed Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga of a place in the record books.

Players, managers and fans had urged MLB to start making better use of their available technology after Galarraga was denied a perfect game last June because of an umpire's blown call on what would have been the final out.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig, long opposed to the wide use of instant replays, promised in the aftermath of the botched call to look into changes to the umpiring system and expanded use of replays in baseball.

But Selig announced on Tuesday, on the eve of a meeting of team owners in Phoenix where the issue was to be discussed, that any changes had been shelved for the 2011 season, along with another proposal to expand the playoffs.

"There continues to be fruitful talks about it, but they're definitely off the table for this year," Selig told the MLB's official website (www.mlb.com). "Really, I think that's what I've been saying all along."

Although MLB audiences are treated to a wide array of camera angles, instant replays are only allowed to review home runs hit near the foul pole and to decide whether spectators had interfered with balls sailing over the wall.

The argument over whether replays should be expanded to decide on other contentious issues had been simmering for years but reached boiling point last season when Galarraga was denied a perfect game.

Millions of television viewers immediately knew the umpire had made a mistake and the batter should have been called out when they saw the replay, which would have allowed Galarraga to complete MLB's 21st perfect game, but the official's mistake held up because the technology was not allowed.

The decision sparked a massive public debate that included U.S. President Barack Obama, a big sports fan.

"I think that baseball is going to have to take a look at what football and basketball already decided, which is replay may in some cases be appropriate," Obama said at the time.

Selig has repeatedly declared his belief that baseball needs to retain a "human element" even if mistakes are made and provided little explanation to Tuesday's decision other than "it's still under discussion."

He was a little more forthcoming about the proposal to add two more wild card teams to the playoffs, which are currently restricted to eight of the league's 30 clubs.

"We couldn't do that for (2011)," Selig said. "The schedules are already done. But we're making good progress."

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. Editing by Frank Pingue)