So Much for Instant Replay
The big topic of conversation last night and today is the umpires completely blowing the replay review of Adam Rosales’ should-a-been home run in last night’s Indians-A’s game. Here is the video from espn.com.
I don’t have a whole lot to add from what others have said/written. Here’s a good article from Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated. Still, it’s too big an issue not to say something about it.
Umpire Angel Hernandez, consistently ranked in anonymous player polls as one of the worst five or six umpires in MLB, claimed that the replays he saw on review were not conclusive. MLB today said that the replay system in place allows the umpires on review to see all the replays from the at least two broadcasts of the game. In other words, the umpires should have seen what everyone else in America could see — a ball that unmistakeably hit the railing well above the yellow home run line — a no-doubt-about-it (at least on replay) home run.
My gut feeling about this situation is that the umpiring crew essentially made a collective decision that they weren’t going to overturn the call on the field no matter what the replay showed, which is essentially what happens when an umpire blows a call not subject to replay. Even if the umpire realizes he blew a ball/strike call or a safe/out call on the bases, he sticks with his initial/called decision, and at most only admits later after the game that he made a mistake. If this in fact is what happened, it completely defeats the purpose of having an instant replay system at all.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, MLB will do to compel umpires to get with the program, but one thing is obvious. It is a huge black eye for MLB that even a call as obviously wrong as this one can’t be overturned in the very limited circumstances in which calls can be reviewed. If umpires cannot be fully trusted that they are making their best efforts to make the right call or correct their mistakes when the rules specifically allow further review, it undermines the legitimacy of game outcomes.