Every so often, an umpire make a call so egregious, so obviously incorrect, that it restarts the calls for more instant replay in baseball. Last night’s game-ender by Jerry Meals was one of those calls.
Mark Teixeira was safe by a mile. A blind man could have seen it. The ump was on the take. You get the idea — a brutally bad call deciding a September game in a division race. If Meals gets the call right, it’s 5-5 and Alex Rodriguez has a chance to give the Yankees the lead. Instead, it’s game over, and the Orioles have tied the Yanks atop the AL East again.
I’m for replay on all safe/out, fair/foul, and home run/not home run calls. Other than the complaints about slowing down the game (spare me, if football can do it then so can baseball), the biggest argument against more replay is that it “takes the human element out of the game.” Here’s the human element of the last play in Saturday’s 5-4 win by the Orioles: Teixeira, needing only a productive out to tie the game, hit a weak ball to second that appeared to be a tailor-made game-ending double play. Recognizing the urgency of the moment, Teix sprinted out of the box, re-injuring his left calf in the process, and slid headfirst into the bag to avoid completely blowing out the calf. He beat the throw to first by a wide margin, a valiant effort to tie a game that the Yankees really needed to win. That’s the human element of the play. In today’s digital, tech-driven world, it’s easy enough to spot when the system breaks down. But baseball has been unwilling to avail itself of that technology. So safe becomes out, and a gritty hustle play is negated as it’s happening. What’s good, or fair, or competitively honest about that?