Owners unanimously ratify umpires contract, which would loosen World Series restrictions

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. - Baseball owners unanimously ratified a five-year contract with umpires on Thursday, wrapping up a decade of labour peace in a sport once plagued by work stoppages.
The deal, expected to be ratified by umpires on Monday, would remove a ban on umpires appearing in consecutive World Series, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because umpires had yet to vote on the pact.
The agreement also would allow management to use video to evaluate umpires and establish new programs for early retirement, a person at the meeting said. That person spoke on condition of anonymity because owners didn't reveal those details.
Ending the World Series restriction would allow the best umpires to work those games in repeated seasons. Removal of that provision would come after several blown calls during the 2009 post-season.
Baseball has not had a serious labour problem since 1999, when a dispute led to mass resignation by umpires, with 22 of them losing their jobs. There has been no work stoppage in the sport since 1994.
"Having lived through the work stoppages of '72, '76, '80, '81, '85, '90, '94, that you'd have 16 years of labour peace, peace with the umpires, it's one of the things I'm very proud of," commissioner Bud Selig said.
Later Thursday, Selig's new committee for on-field matters held its first meeting, a session that stretched from its scheduled two hours to nearly four.
The 14-member committee, formed a month ago, is considering a wide range of issues, including whether to expand the use of instant replay and possibly extending the first-round playoff series to a best-of-seven format. It will make recommendations to the commissioner and the owners.
"We talked about everything," Selig said. "I said there would be no sacred cows, there were no sacred cows. The only subject that we didn't talk about is they didn't evaluate the commissioner. Other than that we really discussed everything from A to Z."
Selig, designated to talk on behalf of the committee, said there was consensus on some matters and said it was "most likely" some changes would be made for the coming season. Any changes of on-field rules would require an agreement from players. Changes on replay would require an agreement from players and umpires.
The commissioner would not talk about specifics.
"I told them (the committee members) I wasn't going to comment on anything because we have work to be done on all of these things yet," he said, "so I don't want to get into a discussion in public about it. We do have work to do and it has to be done confidentially."
The committee is made up of four baseball executives and four owners, plus managers Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and columnist George Will round out the group.
Torre called it a good meeting.
"Please don't ask me anything else," he said. "I don't want to be eliminated from the committee the first day."
The owners wrapped up their two-day meeting with a morning session. For the first time, the meeting included general managers.
"It really was terrific," Selig said. "I would say it was long overdue."
Selig said general managers would be invited to the owners' next meeting in May.
Owners heard an economic report from Will.
The conservative columnist said afterward he believes the economy will hurt baseball but thinks there might be some benefit because it's a bargain for fans relative to other sports - if people don't take expensive summer vacations, they could show up at the ballpark.
Selig said it is too early to tell whether the economy will affect baseball in the coming season, although his expectations were "about the same, maybe a little better" than last year.
"Look, you can't get economists to agree on how things are going to be," he said. "I'm an optimist by nature so I think we'll do OK."
Selig also announced to the owners that baseball was giving US$1 million to UNICEF to help provide relief to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
In the final session, owners also heard an emotional report from representatives of Stand Up To Cancer, an organization that has received much help from baseball.
"I've been coming to these meetings for 40 years and I don't think I've ever seen more emotion, more tears," said Selig, adding that just about everyone's life is touched by cancer. "I'm really proud of our association with them."

Organizations: UNICEF

Geographic location: PARADISE VALLEY, Haiti

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments