Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Just In

MLB Announces Replays, Lawyer Fix In Wake of Im-Perfect Game

(Cooperstown, NY--June 3, 2010) Major League Baseball is in for some dramatic new rule changes, as well as additional game participants, as a result of yesterday's "imperfect game" blown call by umpire Jim Joyce that resulted in Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga losing a place in baseball history.

Galarraga was just one out away from the 21st perfect game in major league history when Joyce ruled that the Cleveland Indians’ Jason Donald had beaten out an infield grounder, thus ending Galarraga’s bid for immortality. Replays later showed that Donald was clearly out, and Joyce later admitted tearfully he had gotten the call wrong.

In wake of the controversial ending, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has announced that beginning immediately, not only will instant replays now be used for all contested plays within a game, but players will also have the right to legal representation on the field itself.

"Each player will now have a ‘Designated Lawyer,’ or DL, present in the stadium at all times,” Selig told a reporters at a hastily convened press conference at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “The player will be able to name the DL of his choice, and the DL will have full legal authority to assist a player in any situation where that player feels a call may have wrongly gone against him and deprived him of his baseball rights. That could include calls like yesterday where the runner and ball arrive at a base at virtually the exact time. It will also include balls and strike calls, whether or not a player was hit by a switch, check swings, balks, and foul ball controversies.” DLs may also get involved in rain delay decisions, added Selig.

DLs will be stationed in a special section of seats behind each dugout - underwritten by corporate title sponsor - and must be invited onto the field by the umpiring crew once a player throws a red flag from out of his back pocket. The DL will be allowed to speak directly to the player, the manager, the umpire, and anyone else who might have information to share on the play in question, including fans, broadcast crews, vendors, and team mascots.

Major league stadiums have already begun implementing plans for such “ Barrister Benches,” which require removal of existing seating to create room for small desks, laptops, briefcase storage, fax machines, and extra seats for legal assistants.

At this point, no time limit for on-field discussion between umpires, players, managers, and DLs has been established by baseball’s Rules Committee. Initial estimates are that game times, currently in the 3-hour range, could now run 17 to 18 hours in length.

Selig acknowledged that the added length could cause problems, including the possibility of Yankees-Red Sox games lasting for several days at a time. He insisted, however, that the advantages far outweighed any potential risks. “After all, cricket matches run for days, and cricket is kind of like baseball, isn’t it?” The fact that longer games would likely result in increased commercial time might actually be a positive as well, Selig added, as long as there was agreement between players and owners on dividing the increased revenue.

“Anyway, the important thing is to get the calls right. We want to make sure that when those two teams take the field in mid January to start the World Series, they got there because of talent and perseverance, and not because of a fluke call or legal loophole."

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