Leading 2-0 with runners at the corners, Josh Donaldson’s fielder’s choice induced the second replay of the series. Carlos Santana’s relay to Yan Gomes at home resulting in an out was challenged by Athletics manager Bob Melvin, causing a five-plus minute debacle.
The next batter, Jed Lowrie, had already entered the batter’s box prior to the challenge, which by the rules eliminates the manager’s opportunity to challenge the previous call. From the moment Melvin left the dugout to use his challenge to the point the umpire delivered the verdict from the officials in New York, five minutes and two seconds had elapsed.
In a single play, the umpires failed in allowing the challenge to occur, and the eyes in the sky in downtown New York City took far too long to judge the play as inconclusive.
I for one am in favor of expanded replay in baseball, because I prefer the calls on the field to be accurate. Go figure, right? It has been proven that the stoppage of over five minutes is avoidable not only in spring baseball, but at the 2012 Little League World Series as nine of the 35 challenges were overturned, averaging 19.66 seconds per replay. The professional level possesses far more qualified officials to make calls on replays using superior technology.
If advancements are to be made in this department going forward, mistakes like these don’t encourage progress. In May of 2013, Oakland ended up on the wrong end of another botched review in Cleveland when Adam Rosales’ home run was called a double when it clearly hit the railing above the wall. Maybe the league wouldn’t be working out the kinks in 2014 if their feet weren’t stuck in the mud for two decades.
The anti-replay apologists argue that baseball is a game of error; between the human element of calling balls and strikes and fan interference, the game is shaped by people. By upholding this concept, even more calls will be missed, resulting in incorrect box scores. The problem MLB has isn’t the idea of replay — it’s the execution.
Even so, the game is built to be slow. Heck, there’s even a tradition called the seventh-inning stretch. If the replay process is executed properly, taking a minute to get the right call benefits the game exceedingly.