Even though the high school, college and pro football seasons are still going great guns and getting a majority of the sports publicity, other things are occurring in the world of sports such as the approval for funding expanded instant replay for Major League Baseball in the 2014 season.

MLB took the first vote in a two-step process last Thursday by unanimously approving the money that will be required for this ambitious undertaking that many feel is long overdue, according to an article by the Associated Press appearing in many newspapers last weekend.

This was one of the highlights that took place at baseball’s general manager meeting in Orlando, Fla. The GMs plan to approve the new rules when they meet Jan. 16, 2014 in Paradise Valley, Ariz. after reaching agreements with the unions for umpires and players.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was pleased with the vote and commented after the meeting, “We made a gigantic move today. This is quite historic.”

Baseball was reluctant to have replay, mainly because Selig opposed the idea that was first used by the NFL in 1986, the NHL in 1991, the NBA in 2002 and Wimbledon in 2006. And according to the AP, even the Little League World Series put replay in place for 2008.

MLB allowed instant replay on a limited basis starting in August 2008, but only to determine whether potential home runs were fair or that the baseball did indeed clear the fence.

Just about every decision such as tag plays, out/safe at first base and fair/foul beyond first and third base bags likely will be subject to review by instant replay except balls and strikes, checked swings and even some foul tips.

“We want to get more plays right, especially the ones that matter,” said Rob Manfred, MLB’s chief operating officer.

Manfred added that when a manager wants to challenge a call, he will notify an umpire, triggering a review in New York by what are likely to be present or retired big league umps. A head set would be brought to the crew chief working the ball game, who would be notified of the decision, according to the AP article.

There would a maximum of two challenges per manager in each game and if the challenge is upheld, it would not be counted against the manager’s limit. And if the manager is out of challenges, umpires probably will be allowed to ask for a review on their own.

Manfred implied that the video being reviewed in New York could be shown to fans in stadiums or even on television broadcasts.

One of the big reasons Selig opposed replays in baseball for so long is that he doesn’t want replays to slow games, whose increased length in recent decades has been the target of criticism.

The average time for a nine-inning game was 2:59 this year, an increase of three minutes from 2012 and it was 3:17 in the post-season, up six minutes. “I was unhappy about the length of some games all year,” Selig said. “There are things we can do and there are things we’re going to have to do.”

The replay will nearly eliminate one of the reasons many fans come to the games-watching the manager argue with the umpire and perhaps kick dirt on his shoes and pants during the height of the rhubarb.

“The current thinking is that if a manager comes out of the dugout and disputes an umpire’s decision, once he argues, he can’t challenge that particular play,” Manfred explained.

He added that similar to football, one way to control the timing of the incident is that the next pitch eliminates the manager’s right to challenge the questionable call. In football, if the ball is snapped for the next play, the right to challenge also disappears.

But MLB doesn’t want managers to instruct players to stall, giving team employees time to review video on their own and instruct the dugout whether to use a challenge. This does occur in football where coaches in the press box have been hired just to scrutinize plays as they occur.

Instant replay was tested last week in the Arizona Fall Instructional League and most reviews averaged one minute, 40 seconds.

Manfred also added that the initial rules for instant replay in major league baseball likely won’t be the final ones.

“The system will see some continuing evolution until we get to a point of stability, similar to what you saw in the NFL,” Manfred concluded.

KWICKIES…Here it is only the second week of the high school state playoffs in football and the Orange area has only two teams still playing—the West Orange-Stark Mustangs and the Vinton Lions—who both won big in last weekend’s bi-district round. The Mustangs outclassed Huffman 41-9 Thursday while Vinton eased past General Trass of Lake Providence 49-14. WO-S meets West Columbia 7 p.m. Friday night at Channelview while Vinton hosts Rosepine at Lions Stadium also Friday at 7 p.m. Congrats to the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears, Orangefield Bobcats, Deweyville Pirates and Orange Community Christian Lions who made the state playoffs, but were eliminated in the bi-district round.

For the second week in a row a hole-in-one was made at Sunset Grove Country Club, this time by Dean Priddy who used a #6 Rescue club to record his ace on the 163-yard Par 3 No. 6 hole. Dean received a check for $200 because he is a member of the Sunset Men’s Golf Association.

There should be a good crowd on hand for Saturday’s big Southland Conference football game between rivals McNeese State and the Lamar Cardinals at Provost-Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. and features a 9-2 Cowboy team that still has a chance to make the post-season tournament with a victory and a 5-6 Cardinal team that would love to finish the season at .500 with an upset win over the Pokes.

A much more significant game for Texas and Louisiana college football fans takes place in Baton Rouge Saturday when the 8-2 Texas Aggies visit 7-3 LSU, where the Tigers are an early 3½-point favorite. But the Bayou Bengals must figure out a way to shut down the Aggies’ phenomenal quarterback Johnny Manziel, so they can outscore the inept defense of Texas A&M. If I were a betting man, I’d take A&M and the points.

Dez Bryant, the Dallas Cowboys’ controversial playmaking wide receiver from Lufkin, has 52 catches so far this season with 40 of them going for Dallas first downs.

Mississippi State is fortunate it is playing at Arkansas Saturday and not against a team ranked in the Top 25, because the Bulldogs have lost 15 straight games to ranked teams in a period stretching over several years.

And speaking of this week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll, the same 10 teams from last week are still there, only in a little different order. Alabama and Florida State retained the top two positions, but No. 3 Baylor switched places with Ohio State which is fourth, and then the next five teams (Oregon, Auburn, Clemson, Missouri and Texas A&M) each moved up one place with Stanford falling from No. 5 to No. 10 with its 20-17 loss to USC last week. Oklahoma State moved up one place to No. 11, while idle LSU remained at No. 18. Three new teams—Southern Cal, Ole Miss and Duke—filled in the final three spots of the 25-team poll for this week.

JUST BETWEEN US…Perhaps the happiest person walking around The Strip at Las Vegas is the person who bet on the opponents of the Houston Texans so far this season. The Texans were favored to win nine of the 10 games so far this season and were only able to win the first two games, without either game covering the point spread. Houston was favored in every game except the one at San Francisco, where they were only a slight underdog. If one looks at the spread in Sunday’s game against lowly Jacksonville, he would be amazed that the Texans are an early 10½-point favorite. Right now I’d take 10½ points if the Texans were playing Sabine Pass High School.