World Series: Controversial Call Shows How Far Behind Times Baseball Is

By Greg Sulik

The Boston Red Sox won Game 1 of the World Series in convincing fashion, with an 8-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals and a dominating performance from Jon Lester. However, after the game, the story focused on a controversial play that occurred in the first inning. By now you have surely seen or heard about the play. David Ortiz hit a ground ball to second that was fielded by Matt Carpenter, who fired to shortstop Pete Kozma to begin what looked like a routine double play.

Problem is, Kozma dropped the ball, and they never completed the turn. Second base umpire Dana DeMuth ruled Dustin Pedroia out at second, and then all hell broke loose. The remaining five umpires quickly gathered around DeMuth to discuss the play, and they then decided to overturn the call, ruling Pedroia safe. The Red Sox went on to score three runs, and the Cardinals never had a chance.

There is absolutely zero debate about whether or not Kozma caught the ball. He didn’t, and the umpires were 100% correct in their assessment of the play. However, the controversy comes over the whether or not the umpires should be allowed to reverse that call, and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny made it clear after the game that he disagreed.

The fact that this debate even exists shows how hopelessly behind the times baseball is. The sport’s inexplicable resistance to instant replay is bad enough, but complaining about umpires conferring to make sure a call is correct is ridiculous. I understand that things are done differently in baseball, but just because something has always been done one way doesn’t mean it’s right.

In the NFL and NBA, officials huddle and confer frequently throughout games, as their sole job is to make the sure the rules of the game are correctly enforced. No one bats an eye when these officials overturn calls following their conference, as they are simply making sure they are getting the call right. This isn’t about replay, it’s about people who are paid to make correct calls ensuring that they do exactly that.

However, when a baseball umpiring crew does the exact same thing, it’s an unforgivable breach of historical tradition? Spare me. The job of umpires is to be correct, and last night they were 100% correct in their decision to overturn the out call. Only in baseball would people complain about getting calls right for the sake of preserving the way things have always been done.

It is time for baseball to join the 21st century, and that means umpires doing everything in their power to make sure their calls are correct. Credit goes to John Hirschbeck and his crew for understanding this, and they handled the situation perfectly. It is time for the rest of baseball to follow their lead.

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