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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. 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 OK'd 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 on his own if the manager has used his challenges. "I tell you the fans will love it," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said after owners met in Paradise Valley, Ariz., and voted their unanimous approval. "It's another in a long list of changes that will make this sport better than it already is." Baseball was the last major pro sport in North America to institute replay when it began late in the 2008 season. Even then, it was only used for close calls on home runs.
Retired pitcher Bob Tewksbury has been hired as director of player development by the Major League Baseball Players Association. Tewksbury earned a master's degree in sports psychology and counseling from Boston University in 2004. Tewksbury has been a sports psychology coach for the Red Sox, and his responsibilities in the newly created position will include counseling, plus assisting players in post-career preparation and transitioning.
Catcher Francisco Cervelli and the New York Yankees agreed to a $700,000, one-year contract. Cervelli was limited to 17 games last season. He broke his right hand April 26 when hit by a foul tip off the bat of Toronto's Rajai Davis and then was suspended for 50 games on Aug. 5 following Major League Baseball's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. The discipline cost the 27-year-old $140,806 of his $515,350 salary. New York signed All-Star Brian McCann during the offseason, and Cervelli likely will be a backup.
Brooklyn rolls in London
Joe Johnson scored 26 of his 29 points in the first half and Andray Blatche added 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 127-110 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in the fourth regular-season NBA game to be played in London. Johnson had 15 points in the first quarter, including 10 straight for the Nets (16-22) late in the period. Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack, both coming off the bench, led the Hawks with 17 points each. Paul Pierce had 18 points, Alan Anderson 15 and Kevin Garnett 12 for the Nets, who were playing a regular-season game at the O2 Arena in London for the third time. They played two against the Toronto Raptors in 2011, winning both.
The NBA All-Stars will wear jerseys with sleeves during this season's midseason celebration in New Orleans. The NBA and athletic apparel giant Adidas revealed the All-Star Game uniforms Thursday. The NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for Feb. 16. The Eastern Conference will wear blue, and the West will wear red, but the jerseys will feature Mardi Gras colors - green and purple. The NBA All-Star logo appears on the chest of the jerseys in the shape of the fleur-de-lis, the official symbol of Louisiana.
Blake is 1st in MLS draft
UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake didn't know much about Philadelphia before arriving in the city for Major League Soccer's draft on Thursday. He'll have plenty of time to learn about it. In front of a swarm of local fans that flooded the Philadelphia Convention Center, the hometown Union selected Blake with the top overall pick - making him the first goalie to be selected No. 1. The New England Revolution picked Georgetown All-America midfielder Steve Neumann with the fourth pick, and later added another seasoned college player in Maryland striker Patrick Mullins at No. 11.
American hockey goalie Jesse Vetter will have to go to the Olympics without a quote from the U.S. Constitution on her mask. Vetter's original design included a reference from the preamble to the Constitution, including the iconic script of the opening words, "We the People." But International Olympic Committee rules ban any "form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise," on uniforms. Artist Ron Slater said he also had to remove the Olympic rings from the chin on his original design. And Vetter's name also had to go. Slater said Vetter got the new mask last week in time to break it in for next month's Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.