By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Most reasonable sports fans can agree that replay review should be a very positive and useful tool. Across all sports, the games move so fast that an on-field official, referee or umpire is certain to miss a call from time to time. And if that call can be corrected using the many high-definition, slow-motion replays that are readily available within seconds of a play taking place? Then of course it makes sense to employ that technology.READ MORE: Rep. Stephen Lynch: 'We Have To Get To An Agreement' On Stalled Infrastructure Bill
Alas, there are occasions when the entire replay system fails in a dreadful way, to the point where everybody watching has to wonder why the replay system even exists in the first place. Wednesday night in Boston was one of those times.
It came at a time that seemed insignificant: Bottom of the fifth, nobody on, nobody out, and the Red Sox leading the Angels 6-1. It looked like the game might be a laugher. Boston second baseman Eduardo Nunez hit a chopper down the third-base line. Luis Valbuena fielded the ball and threw across the diamond, but his throw was off line. Albert Pujols came off the bag to make the catch before making an attempt to tag Nunez as he ran by.
First base umpire Ed Hickox ruled Nunez out on the play, but after taking a look at a couple of replays, the Red Sox decided to challenge the call. It was a smart decision by manager Alex Cora and his staff.
You can see for yourself in the video below, with the best angle showing up at the 1:45 mark:
Clearly, Pujols never applied the tag on Nunez.READ MORE: Man Runs Off With 'High-Value' Diamond Necklace From Swansea Jewelry Store
But the out call was upheld for whatever reason. Ladies and gentlemen, replay review!
There’s simply no explanation for this. MLB claims that its umpires in New York who are watching replays have access to “as many as 12 cameras” as “any replays shown by the network(s) covering the game.” So, in that two-minute review process, the umpires in New York had access to the camera that clearly showed that no tag was made. If they didn’t see it or chose to ignore it, then they failed at their jobs quite remarkably. If they did see that angle but still determined the video evidence to be inconclusive, then they should be in a different profession.
It’s unlikely that a safe call would have made a significant difference in the inning, though that’s impossible to know for sure. After the out call was upheld, Rafael Devers singled and stole second base, but Sandy Leon then struck out before Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded out to end the inning. The Red Sox eventually won 9-6.
But it’s less about the imaginary potential for what might have been and more about the simple fact that MLB utilizes replay review yet still can’t seem to get calls correct. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: Replay review doesn’t exist to analyze exactly where a ball is in a first baseman’s webbing, or whether a base stealer’s foot came off the bag by 2 centimeters while the tag was being held. Replay review exists so that Jim Joyce doesn’t blow a perfect game for Armando Galarraga, or so that Phil Cuzzi doesn’t blow an obvious fair/foul call in the 11th inning of a playoff game, or so that Tim Welke is saved after suffering a complete brain melt in the middle of a baseball game, or so that Jerry Meals doesn’t somehow outdo Welke with the worst call in baseball history. Replay exists so we don’t have to witness the Jeffrey Maier home run again, and so that Chuck Knoblauch doesn’t get credited for applying tags that he never made.
Simple stuff. Obvious stuff. The idea of implementing replay was one that figured to eliminate all of those obvious bad calls on the field. But an absolute whiff by the replay officials in New York on Wednesday night throws the whole system into question.
What’s the point of this intrusive process that brings games to a halt if it’s not even going to work?MORE NEWS: State Workers Face Sunday Deadline To Get COVID Vaccine Or Risk Losing Jobs