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At last, it happened. The Yankees were the victims of not just one, but two blown calls in postseason games. Will that mean replay review? Um... maybe.
It is with an air of weary resignation that I write about replay review again. Why "weary resignation"? Because it should have happened by now -- you've seen me call for replay review here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and and I'm as sick of writing about it as you are probably sick of hearing it from me.
The blown calls had gotten so egregious that a standard baseball joke went: "When it happens to the Yankees in a playoff game, then it'll get changed." That joke was repeated by Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, perhaps only half- jokingly:
Instant replay advocates, rejoice. Change is coming to Major League Baseball.
This is unofficial, but rest assured that our national pastime is about to enter the 21st century as it relates to replay technology. How do I know? The New York Yankees were victimized by blown calls in consecutive postseason losses, that’s how.
Both calls involved Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. Here's the first, from Saturday's Game 1:
And here's the second, the one that got manager Joe Girardi tossed from Sunday's Game 2:
Baseball has been inching, and by "inching" I mean hasn't budged at all except for reviewing home runs, toward replay review. Such a system is used in all three other North American major sports for all important calls. A system for baseball began to be tested last month:
"Hawkeye," the camera-based technology used in tennis, will be tested at Citi Field, both during Mets games in September and on off-days. A radar-based system, similar to the technology used to track shots in golf telecasts, will be tested at Yankee Stadium. That technology, officials said, has not been used previously to review calls in any sport.
Baseball also plans to test both systems during the Arizona Fall League and present the results in November at the next owners' meetings.
There is no timetable for making a decision on when, or even whether, to begin using one of the two systems to review calls in major league games, officials said. However, commissioner Bud Selig has said he hopes to expand replay to include fair/foul calls and possibly trap/catch calls as soon as next season.
If the system is implemented in that way, it would not have been used for either of the plays you see above -- since both of those were of the "safe/out" variety. Those appear to be the ones on which you get the most controversial calls; in the seven links I posted above of my own writing on this topic, every single one of them involved a safe/out play.
Going back to the idea that because the Yankees got hosed, it's going to happen rightfreakingnow, look at this, from Morosi's article:
Girardi’s predecessor as Yankees manager, Joe Torre, spoke at a postgame news conference in his capacity as MLB executive vice president of baseball operations. Torre pointed out that when replay was raised at the All-Star Game, little attention was given to safe and out calls on the bases. "It always seems we want the replay to (cover) the last thing that happened," Torre said. (He’s right, of course. And that could be accomplished with a replay official, seated upstairs, who buzzes the crew chief when a call is obviously missed. But I digress.) "We’re looking into it," Torre continued, "but right now we haven’t really come to any conclusion on what’s the best way to go."
Oh, come on, Joe. This has been happening in front of national audiences for three years, ever since the blown call by Phil Cuzzi on what should have been a double by Joe Mauer benefited the Yankees in a 2009 division series game against the Twins. Baseball's moguls have had it within their power to do the right thing about this for years, and the examples of how the NFL, NBA and NHL do reviews. How does it take this long to "come to any conclusion on what's the best way to go"?
As noted above, MLB owners are going to be presented with some sort of report on the progress of replay review at their meetings next month. They're going to need to address safe/out calls, because those are the ones that seem to be blown most often, and the ones that could make the biggest difference in games.
Would it have made a difference for the Yankees if either or both of the calls this past weekend had been reversed and made right? Maybe, although their almost complete lack of offense in this series (a .192 BA and four runs in 21 innings, all of them in the ninth inning Saturday) probably means the series would stand 2-0 Detroit anyway. The point is, we'll never know, because the men charged with getting the calls right didn't, in important situations. And for those who complain that reviews would slow the game down, listen to what Girardi's own words:
“I have been thrown out of games enough to know it would be quicker to get the call right or wrong or right on replay than for me to go out there and argue. And they talk about the flow of the game.”
I've said this before, but -- and I know you're sick of hearing it, but it does bear repeating -- the results of the game should reflect what the players actually do on the field, rather than the opinion of one man, or four, or six.