Close plays, botched calls increase need of instant replay

The expansion of instant replay has been a hot topic recently in Major League Baseball. Bud Selig has been quoted as saying, “Yes, we had some incidents that certainly need to be looked at. So I’m not minimizing them. But do I believe in instant replay? No, I do not… Human error is part of our sport.” The commissioner is not a fan of expanding replay. The only plays that can be reviewed are home run boundaries, such as fair/foul, whether or not a ball left the playing field, and fan interference. There are various plays every week that are dissected and prove how replay could benefit the game. Two specific instances on Tuesday night in Philadelphia and New York are the types of examples that are increasing the need for instant replay.

First, from the Pirates-Phillies game. It was the top of the seventh inning and the Bucs were threatening; men on second and third, one out, and Neil Walker at the plate. The Pirates cut the Philly lead to one run. On the 0-2 pitch, Walker hit a shallow fly ball to left fielder John Mayberry, Jr. Michael McKenry, who isn’t exactly the fastest runner in the world, decided to take a shot at the plate. Mayberry gunned a perfect throw to the plate and at first glance, it appeared that he was out by a mile. The throw easily beat him home, but Carlos Ruiz didn’t apply a solid tag. When you slow it down, it looks like McKenry may have touched home before being tagged. Watch the video HERE.

From the head-on view, you can tell that it was a high tag from Ruiz:

The best view is provided by the side angle. From this angle, it looks like “The Fort” was safe:

Obviously it all happens so fast and the umpire isn’t on that angle, but instant replay could’ve helped the Bucs. Sure it’s tough to determine how this would’ve affected the remainder of the game, but it certainly took away the momentum that the Pirates started to build up. If McKenry is safe, the score would be 4-4 and they still have a man on second base for their best hitter, Andrew McCutchen. Instead, the rally was killed and the Bucs have their backs against the wall with just two more chances to score and the Phillies up by one run.

Next, from the Yankees-Indians game, which is the worse call of the two examples. Ironically, this play also took place in the top of the seventh inning, but Cleveland was down 4-0. Jack Hannahan popped a fly ball into foul territory down the left field line. Yankees’ left fielder Dewayne Wise ranged over towards the stands and leaped over the railing. At first glance, it appeared that he made a spectacular grab. Broadcaster Michael Kay exclaimed, “And he makes the play! … Yes, he did! He’s got the ball, a little bit of a smile on his face, and his escort out of the stands.” But then, both broadcasters realized that Wise did not catch it. Watch the video HERE.

The first TV replay didn’t show evidence because the umpire was in the way…

…but the second one made it obvious:

(ball circled for emphasis)

Although the umpire’s decision may not have affected the outcome of the game (Yanks won 6-4), it’s still a badly missed call. There’s no excuse there, and if the ump truly couldn’t tell, that’s what replay is for. It’s bizarre that the ump didn’t even ask to see the ball, but instant replay could’ve corrected the call. It was a blatantly missed call, plain and simple. Some tweets from Steve Berthiaume of ESPN:

It’s tough to make a final decision on instant replay. It takes away the natural, “human error” of baseball, but it also helps justify incorrect calls. Umpires are constantly being scrutinized for blown calls, and it’s ridiculous that the game goes on despite their common mishaps. One of the worst occurred in Colorado when Todd Helton was nowhere close to the base…

…but the umpire called the runner out.

There are far too many incorrect calls being made, and instant replay could really clean it up. The only questions are how much it should be expanded and when will MLB finally make the move.

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