Replay in baseball is really hurting the sport we love
In every game, there is a couple of plays where we
have to watch the replay over and over to try to determine if the baserunner’s
fingers came off the base for a split second.
The game, which MLB is allegedly trying to speed up,
is slowed down as the umpires go to the headsets to get the ruling on a play
that should have never been reviewed in the first place.
Replaying home runs is one thing. So is replaying an
obvious missed call. Replaying a pickoff attempt goes against the spirit of the
game. Even Alberto Riveron, the NFL replay czar who doesn’t know what a catch
is, would think it is silly to look to see if the base stealer’s finger lifted
an eighth of an inch off the bag.
Then, after weeks watching replay after replay go
against the Red Sox — my Yankee fan brother tells me that is proof of a
conspiracy for the Red Sox instead of the other way around — we couldn’t get
any help from replay when Andrew Benintendi was robbed of a hit Saturday in
(Seriously, I don’t think one replay call, made in New
York by the way, has gone Boston’s way this season, but I’m sure that will even
out as the season goes on. At least that’s what my therapist tells me.)
The history book will tell us the Red Sox were no-hit
by Sean Manaea on Saturday. Common sense — and the rule book — tells us
Boston should have had two hits in the box score, and
maybe more if the sixth inning were allowed to continue like it should have.
First, Sandy Leon should have been credited with a hit
in fifth inning. Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien was well out on the grass with
his back to the plate when he dropped the pop up.
Ask yourself this, have you ever seen an error charged
when an infielder was well out onto the outfield grass with his back to the
plate? Probably not.
Also, would a similar effort been called an error on
the first baseman if the ball landed foul? No way.
Granted, it would have been a cheap hit, but DerekJeter made a Hall of Fame career out of cheap hits.
The hit or error call, however, comes down to the
official scorer, and he (or she) is going to lean toward protecting the
hometown guy. There is also something to be said for making the first hit be a
clear one, and it is hard to fault the scorer for getting caught up in the
Umpires should not get caught up in the
They do, of course, and many no-hit bids have
benefited from an umpire realizing something special is going on. There have
been bang-bang plays go the way of the pitcher late in games. Strike zone have inadvertently
grown as games have closed in on history.
On Saturday, though, it was not a subconscious mistake
by the umpires. With a little help from Bob Melvin, they talked themselves into
the wrong call.
The rule book has the clear answer:
5.09(b)(1): Any runner is out when he runs more than three feet away from his
base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with
a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner's base path is established when the
tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is
attempting to reach safely.
Even by the bad male math, Benintendi was
nowhere near 3 feet away from the base path that he had established.
We have seen players dive headfirst into first base to avoid a tag
thousands of times in baseball. Never have we seen that runner called out like
Benintendi was. We’ve especially never — if that is such a thing — seen the
runner called out by an umpire conference after he was already ruled safe.
You don’t even have to ask yourself because you know the answer.
Benintendi would have never been called out if the Red Sox already had a hit on
the board. Leon’s blooper would have been called a hit, too, under the same
At the end of the day, we all have to tip our cap to Manaea
for pitching a heck of a game. Nobody has any doubt he would have gotten the
shutout even if Benintendi had been allowed to stay on first. No calls in that
game cost the Red Sox the game. They were bested by the better man.
But that no-hitter will always come with an asterisks.
It will in Manaea’s mind, too, because he was sure Leon had a hit in the first
The question is this. Why wasn’t replay able to fix,
or at least look at this call?
If we have to wait and wait to see if a base stealer
is safe or out, why isn’t a play like Benintendi’s hit reviewable?
All outs should count the same, and the previous 17
outs should never have any influence on a call.
If that play was reviewable, like it should have been,
we just might have finally gotten to see a replay go Boston’s way.