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 on Thursday, approving a huge expansion of instant replay in hopes of eliminating blown calls that riled up players, managers and fans.
“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 backed 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 if the manager has used his challenges.
“The fans will love it,” Commissioner Bud Selig said after owners met and voted their unanimous approval. “It’s another in a long list of changes that will make this sport better.”
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. A seventh major league umpire will be added to replace the late Wally Bell.
In addition, managers and others in the dugout will be allowed to communicate by phone with someone in the clubhouse who can watch the videos and advise whether to challenge.
Meanwhile, owners and the players’ union remain at work on drafting a rule that would ban home-plate collisions.
● ATHLETICS: Catcher John Jaso has agreed to a $2.3 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics. Jaso gets a $500,000 raise under the deal.
● BREWERS: A Milwaukee judge is allowing a lawsuit against Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun to go forward. Braun is being sued by a former college classmate who says the slugger sought his help in fighting a failed drug test, balked on paying him and then disparaged him when asked why their friendship soured.
Braun and his agents had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
● MARINERS: Catcher John Buck signed a one-year deal.
● PHILLIES: Right-hander Kyle Kendrick has agreed to a $7,675,000, one-year deal, avoiding arbitration.
● RAYS: The team announced left-hander David Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award, winner agreed to a $14 million, one-year deal. The agreement doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade.
“I still have the mind-set moving forward that I want to be with the Rays,” said Price, who at the end of last season seemed resigned to the fact that he’d probably be dealt during the offseason.
The 28-year-old, a three-time all-star, has been the subject of trade speculation after going 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA last year while earning $10,112,500. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
● YANKEES: Catcher Francisco Cervelli agreed to a $700,000, one-year contract.