I was watching Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees game when there was a pivotal moment in the top of the third inning. Boston had the bases-loaded with one out and Xander Bogaerts at the plate in a scoreless game.
Bogaerts hit a chopper to Didi Gregorious who flipped it to Starlin Castro for the second out, and then fired to Mark Teixeira to complete what appeared to be an inning-ending double play.
First base umpire Carlos Torres signaled out, and I pumped my fist in adulation before quickly realizing the new reality of today’s game. Any close call, in any inning of any game, will be reviewed, or at least the manager of the team that the call went against will jolt out of the dugout and perform their silly waiting game stunt while someone in the clubhouse decides whether that team should request a challenge.
The umpire’s safe-or-out call today is as meaningful as Rafael Palmiero adamantly telling congress he never used steroids.
In this particular case, it was evident based on one replay that Bogaerts had beaten Castro’s throw, and Boston manager John Farrell challenged the play. The original out call was overturned, Bogaerts was ruled safe and instead of escaping a major jam with an inning-ending double play, the Red Sox had taken a 1-0 lead.
I’m probably in the minority here, but this is a classic example of how replay is ruining Major League Baseball (and I don’t want to hear that if the original call went against the Yankees I wouldn’t have the same attitude about the play).
Assuming umpires will get every call right when it sometimes takes five minutes of watching several replay angles to determine if the correct call was made is an unjustifiable expectation. Human error is apart of life.
As someone who grew up watching baseball, and I still view it as my favorite sport, one of the most exciting aspects of the game is reacting to an umpire’s call on a bang-bang play knowing once they signaled “safe” or “out”, the call would stand, and if the manager felt the ump made the wrong call, he would storm out of the dugout and go all “Lou Piniella” on the field. There was nothing better to see.
I still believe replay can and probably should occupy a role in today’s game. I’m a firm believer that home run calls should always be reviewable, and I would reluctantly understand and accept if baseball instituted a “last two inning rule” where any call in the last two innings of a game would be subject to review.
This way, the game could go on for seven innings without any interruption, and if it’s close at the end, managers and fans would know any call in the crucial late stages of a close game would always be correct. (If the game went into extra innings, any calls would also be reviewable).
With the way replay is set up now, it almost feels like as a fan, only having a home plate umpire seems necessary, and to me, that perception must change.