MLB approves more instant replay
EVER SINCE the game was invented, before television or even radio existed, baseball counted on the eyes and ears of umpires on the field. Starting this season, many key decisions will be made in a studio far away.
Major League Baseball vaulted into the 21st century of technology yesterday, approving a huge expansion of instant replay in hopes of eliminating blown calls that riled up players, managers and fans.
"I think it's great," San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's about getting it right."
Acknowledging the human element had been overtaken in an era when everyone except the umps could see several views over and over in slow-motion, owners and players and umpires OKed the new system.
Now each manager will be allowed to challenge at least one call per game. If he's right, he gets another challenge. After the seventh inning, a crew chief can request a review on his own if the manager has used his challenges.
The so-called "neighborhood play" at second base on doubleplays cannot be challenged. Many had safety concerns for middle infielders being wiped out by hard-charging runners if the phantom force was subject to review.
Ball-and-strike calls can't be contested. Neither can check-swings and foul tips. Nor can obstruction and interference rulings - those are up to the umpires' judgment.
All reviews will be done by current MLB umpires at a replay center in MLB.com's New York office. To create a large enough staff, MLB agreed to hire six new big-league umpires and call up two minor league umps for the entire season.
Meanwhile, owners and the players' union remain at work on drafting a rule that would ban home-plate collisions. MLB COO Rob Manfred said yesterday that owners "fully expect" to have a rule in place, hopefully this season, but that talks are ongoing.
* Alex Rodriguez says his season-long suspension could be a benefit, allowing him to rest and return to the Yankees for the final 3 years of his contract. Speaking in Mexico City during a promotional appearance, Rodriguez declined to talk specifically about his suspension. Rodriguez, who will be 39 when the 2015 season opens, repeated several times that this part of his life had not been completed.
"I want to retire in New York, and I think the rest will do me good," he added. "For me, the book isn't finished. There are still chapters to finish . . . Right now I haven't thought about retiring."
* Roc Nation Sports, Jay-Z's sports agency, says it has signed New York Yankees lefthander CC Sabathia to join former teammate Robinson Cano in its client base. Sabathia, 33, is signed through 2016 at salaries of $23 million in each of the next two seasons and $25 million in 2016. The Yankees hold a $25 million option for 2017 with a $5 million buyout. He was 14-13 last year with a 4.78 ERA.
* Tampa Bay ace David Price agreed to a 1-year, $14 million deal.
* A lawsuit filed against Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will go forward after a judge refused to dismiss the most serious allegations leveled by a friend who says the slugger sought his help in fighting a failed drug test, then balked on paying him.