The second game of a day-night doubleheader between the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland Athletics showed that while instant replay in Major League Baseball certainly isn’t fluid, there are certain calls the system can correct seamlessly — a far cry from the first game.
As Cleveland’s Mike Aviles broke for second base in a steal attempt and Oakland’s Nick Punto caught catcher John Jaso’s on-time throw to swipe at Aviles, the out call by second base umpire Gabe Morales seemed all but abhorrent. Like many stolen base attempts, it was bang-bang, and to the naked eye, Aviles was out. Except he wasn’t, and it wasn’t even close.
Morales was on the inside of the base paths, opposite where the phantom tag was applied, and thus couldn’t really see that Punto missed the tag by a country mile.
Aviles appealed wildly to the call, waving his arms and calling out manager Terry Francona. The call was reviewed and the play reversed. That’s a good thing and reversal of the terrible exception made by home plate umpire Mark Wegner in the first game of the day, which I wrote about earlier.
Some detractors are wholeheartedly against all replay in baseball. I am not one of them. I agree that balls and strikes should never be called by anyone other than a human umpire, but there are some plays worth reviewing. This play involving Aviles was one of them. One major argument against replay is the time it takes away from the game. Earlier in the day, the same umpiring crew had a replay that lasted over five minutes, much too long. In this case, the headset was on and off the umpire in two minutes, much better.
If MLB can keep the reviews of plays simple while short, I’m all in. However, if players and fans have to endure the disaster that was in game one in Oakland, or even the eleven minute delay in Minnesota on Wednesday also, then I’m inclined to argue it needs fixing or nixed save home run calls.