The plan for Major League Baseball to institute replay review this year is proceeding, with Thursday's announcement of the hire of Justin Klemm as Director of Replay:
Klemm, who will report to MLB’s Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations Peter Woodfork, will be based at the headquarters of MLB Advanced Media, which will continue to serve as the Replay Command Center. In 2008, he became Executive Director of Minor League Baseball’s Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation (PBUC). In his new role, Klemm will be responsible for the management of umpire involvement at the Replay Center. Among his duties, Justin will handle supervisor staffing at the facility, and along with the technology director at MLBAM, will help to coordinate the procedural configuration with the 30 Clubs.
"Major League Baseball is pleased to welcome Justin Klemm as Director of Replay," Woodfork said. "As we move forward with our new system, Justin’s background and experiences on and off the field will be vital resources to not only our Umpires, but many of us as at the Commissioner’s Office and MLB Advanced Media."
I thought I remembered Klemm's name from a controversial Cubs call, and I was right. Klemm, noted as "Jay Klemm" in this Retrosheet umpire bio, called 186 major-league games from 2000-2003, and you'll note at the bottom of that page his ejections -- two of which occurred in this 2003 Cubs/Cardinals game, in which he ruled a line drive down the left-field line by Moises Alou was foul (had it been fair, it likely would have been a two-run double, tying the game). Alou confronted Klemm when he came out to left field, as did reliever Antonio Alfonseca, who was in the bullpen; Alou was ejected and Alfonseca bumped Klemm, for which he was suspended for seven games (the joke at the time, since Alfonseca was having such a bad year, was that the Cubs were going to appeal and ask for the suspension to be increased).
Replays showed Klemm was incorrect about that call. Let's hope he does a better job coordinating the replay-review system for the major leagues.
Also hired full-time Thursday were seven umpires who have been in the minor leagues for several seasons, some as long as 14 years, and have been vacation-relief umps in the major leagues for a number of years as well: Jordan Baker, Lance Barrett, Cory Blaser, Mike Estabrook, Mike Muchlinski, David Rackley and D.J. Reyburn.
It's worth noting that these umpires range in age from 29 to 37 and as such, if they are good enough, will likely be working games for the next 25 to 30 years. There's your next generation of umpires. MLB also promoted current umpires Bill Miller and Jeff Nelson to crew chief.