SBJ/Aug. 19-25, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Owners willing to spend on replay

It’s probably not correct to say money is no object when discussing the expansion of MLB instant replay to a challenge-based system. But it’s not far off, either.

As the league prepares to give managers unprecedented latitude to seek video reviews of disputed on-field calls beginning next season, the estimated startup costs for the program hover around $1 million a ballpark. Those costs cover capital expenses such as cameras, related technology, a further building out of the league’s central replay-monitoring station at MLB Advanced Media’s Manhattan headquarters, and additional staff salaries. And it’s part of why expanding instant replay has taken more than two years of study and internal debate to get to this stage.

The league is preparing for a video replay system to settle close calls.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Owners will not be presented with all the details and will not be asked to render a formal vote on the developing program until November. But for clubs, which will be funding the project either directly or indirectly through a diversion of other central fund revenue, the focus is more on improving instant replay than what the final bill looks like.

“The primary goal is, and should be, getting the calls on the field correct,” said one team executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “That’s the priority, and we’ll be able to figure out the rest.”

DEE BACK IN BASEBALL: Newly hired San Diego Padres President Mike Dee made his first appearance at an MLB owners meeting in more than four years, part of his return to baseball after his high-profile stint as chief executive of the Miami Dolphins. Dee, a former Padres and Boston Red Sox executive, said the shift felt “very natural.”

“The NFL experience is something I’ll always treasure, particularly being there through the whole lockout and CBA process. But baseball is who I was when I started in the business, and it’s where I cut my teeth,” said Dee, who recently turned 50. “And I want this now to be my last stop. It’s rare to get opportunities to go back like this.”

As he did last month, Dee said the departure from Miami was not related to the Dolphins’ failure earlier this year to secure public financing to renovate Sun Life Stadium. But Dee inherits a stiff challenge looking to revive the Padres under new owners Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler. The club plays in the highly competitive NL West, where the Los Angeles Dodgers are earning and spending money at historic levels, and the San Francisco Giants hold two of the last three World Series titles.

“We play in a very intense division, and those are obviously very formidable opponents,” Dee said. “But I feel the landscape is wide open, and competitive balance in baseball is here to stay. And I think the full impact of this ownership group and what Petco Park represents has not yet been felt.”

RYAN RETURNS: The Cooperstown meetings were also a homecoming of sorts for new Astros President Reid Ryan.

Houston Astros President Reid Ryan, shown in May, is no stranger to Cooperstown.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The meetings represented the first such session for Ryan, the son of Rangers Chief Executive Nolan Ryan and a longtime minor league baseball team executive before he took the Astros post in May.

But the younger Ryan has plenty of experience with Cooperstown, having accompanied his hall-of-famer father on several trips for festivities there. Reid Ryan also was a minor league player for the Hudson Valley Renegades of the Class A New York-Penn League in 1994, making road trips to play the Oneonta Yankees, 25 miles from Cooperstown.

“It’s sort of Old Home Week being back here,” the younger Ryan said.

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