Saturday, August 6, 2011

Instant replay

I’m going to stay on my hobby horse for a second posting based on tonight’s Jays game against Baltimore.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Cesar Izturis on first following a single, Robert Andino placed a ball down the first base line. On his way to the bag, he definitely did not stay within the 45-foot double lines. Not only that, he veered inward, almost stepping on the ball and Perez the pitcher, who subsequently picked up the ball poorly and missed Lind at the bag. He was charged with an error.

Will, our resident umpire, will tell you that Andino did two illegal things on this one play: running outside the double chalk lines and interfering with the pitcher trying to field the ball.

Here’s the tagline to all this: both the home plate umpire and the first base umpire missed the two transgressions of the rules. Andino was called safe. At first the official scorer even awarded him a hit!

Jays manager John Ferrell came out to argue. Replays clearly showed that he was in the right. Eventually, he argued too long and too forcefully and was tossed from the game.

This was the perfect time for the umpires to huddle, decide to review the play on screen and come up with the correct call. As the rules are currently, they can’t do that – except in the case of home runs.

Clearly, with the Jays ahead by only one run and runners now on first and second with no outs, the botched call could easily have affected the outcome of the game. Fortunately, in this case, it didn’t, but it was a very close thing.

When is MLB going to get their collective heads out of the sand and realize that standing in the way of replays for their umpiring crews will actually help baseball? Even though they would have taken it, I can’t think that Baltimore wouldn’t have wanted a replay to show Andino should have been called out for interference if they knew that another botched call might be reversed in their favour farther down the line.

Ultimately, this game probably means very little in the way the season will play out, but it’s only a matter of time before yet another botched call will screw up a really important game, and once again MLB will shuffle their feet, look down at the ground and tell us there’s nothing they can do about it.

There is and they should! If they make the proper rule change and allow replays for umpires on close and especially clearly-botched plays, they can always fine tune it as they go along. To hear them speak, you’d think there is the chance that the game will be ruined, especially if they get the rule change wrong. That’s bullshit and they know it.


Larry Toman said...

Hi Rick, I'm as hot to trot as you are about these continuous debacles. The quality of umpiring just seems to be in free fall lately. Yes, as you mentioned, it's only a matter of time before it ruins an important game. Maybe in the big series in Boston with the Bronx Bombers.
Pretty impressive debut from Lawrie. This kid has got swagger. Have a good weekend. Cheers!

Rick Blechta said...

I think Lawrie has swagger, but in all the right ways from what I hear. Hopefully, he will adapt to major league pitching as they adapt to him. That's what Snider is having fits over. Lawrie seems to be cut from other cloth, though.

Time will tell.

As for last night's call, I'm also reminded of the Jays game against the Sox on July 5th. Though no one knew it at the time, the catcher's tag missed Encarnacion at the plate. It's clear on replay. In this case the game shouldn't have been over.

Let's hope it doesn't happen in an important game -- or maybe it should. It might force MLB's hand.