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MLB yelled at the Red Sox for replaying a close play on the Fenway scoreboard

Jul 8, 2012, 2:52 PM EDT

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

In the bottom of the sixth of the first game of yesterday’s Sox-Yankees doubleheader, David Ortiz was doubled off first base when Adrian Gonzalez flied out to Andruw Jones. It was a close play and, on first glance, it looked like Mark Teixeira was pulled off the bag when leaping for the relay throw.

So, just as you as a fan would hope for, the people who operate the video board at Fenway Park ran a replay. Even though it seemed to show that the right call had been made, the crowd booed because, hey, the home crowd is gonna boo such things.

But get this:

The Red Sox received a call from the commissioner’s office complaining that the video board at Fenway Park replayed a controversial umpire’s decision during Saturday’s game. As a rule, teams are instructed not to replay close calls, for fear that it might incite the crowd … The umpires are believed to have lodged a complaint between innings to MLB, which subsequently contacted the Red Sox.

This is stupid cubed. It’s stupid that there’s any kind of a rule in which teams should not show replays of close calls, it’s stupid that the umpires complained when this stupid rule was not honored and it was stupid when MLB contacted the Red Sox to complain about the stupid umpire complaint regarding the stupid rule.

We already know that umpires’ skins are so thin and their insecurity so great that they cannot countenance official instant replay, but I had no idea it was so thin that they could not countenance merely showing a call that may or may not have been messed up to fans in the seats. The same replay that thousands or, in national games, millions of people watching on TV are already seeing.

And Major League Baseball, what’s your excuse? The stated purpose of the rule — inciting the crowd — is silly. This is not South American soccer. The only riots at major league ballparks in living memory involved disco and ten cent beer, not bad umpire calls. I think baseball fans are mature enough and security at ballparks is sufficient to withstand showing a botched umpire call from time to time.

And what is baseball losing by not allowing such things? A better in-game experience for fans who won’t, after a close call, wonder if the call was correctly made and think to themselves — as I do from time to time — if I would have been better off watching at home.

Oh, and some transparency and public accountability for umpires too, but I don’t think that’s very high on baseball’s agenda, so forget I mentioned it.

(thanks to Bigleagues for the heads up)

  1. tscott4jesus - Jul 8, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    I don’t even like either team, but come on? I understand not using replay for balls & strikes, but on close tag plays? You mean they’re not even allowed to show the video to fans, paying fans!

  2. koufaxmitzvah - Jul 8, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    5th umpire sitting in the press box watching replays of close and controversial plays. Strike zone issues not included. That’s the easiest, most logical way MLB and the umpires union get their credibility back.

    Until changes are made, they might as well be carnies.

  3. schuckme - Jul 8, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    Somewhere the NFL is giggling and shaking its head

  4. adenzeno - Jul 8, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Not like people can see the replays on the concourse TVs and their cell phones….

  5. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 8, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    guy was out, end of story

  6. stairwayto7 - Jul 8, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    Make a real staement MLB..ban them from ESPN for a month!

  7. offseasonblues - Jul 9, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    The solution is to to show a replay of every play at the park.

  8. anxovies - Jul 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Craig: You are just as right about umpires being thin-skinned as you are wrong for your desire to have instant replay in MLB games. At least I think you are one of those. Replay of close plays on the bases would be a disaster because there are so many of them in a game. The TV cameras play them over and over again and most of the time the ump got it right or it was hard to tell even after numerous super slo-mo replays, and; most of the time the blown call doesn’t have much of an impact on the outcome anyway. If you must have it, give the manager of each team a finite number of red flags or whatever at the beginning of the year, say a half-dozen, and that’s all he gets for the season. That way the games wouldn’t be disrupted and the replays would be reserved for the most important and egregious calls, like Jim Joyce’s mistake in Armando Gallaraga’s perfect game. And as for those thin-skinned umps, both you and I were practicing lawyers and know about getting second-guessed on matters that are really important in people’s lives. Get over it and go on.

    • alang3131982 - Jul 9, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      The umpires are complaining about something being shown to 40,000 people that had already been shown to millions of people. It is what happened that is being shown, not some distortion of the fact.

      In addition, the mere fact that some blown calls dont have an impact on the outcome of the game, season, championship doesnt mitigate the need to make sure calls are correct. If we can help umpires get teh call right more often, why wouldnt we? How are people supposed to know when a particular blown call affects the game? In fact, once a call is made incorrectly, it affects teh game and no one has anyway of knowing whether the “true” outcome is the one that the players would have come to.

      No one cares about umpires. They are near antiquated. it’s quite clear they are asked to do a job that is incredibly difficult. In any profession, getting help is welcomed, not seen as a hindrance. Do firefighters not want to use technology because that’s the way it is always done and sometimes it might not save more people? Of course a baseball game does equal firefighting, but in no instance do other professions fight against technology and help. This is just so bizarre, i dont understand how people would deny themselves help…

      Also, your comment made no sense.

  9. theyoungballgame - Jul 9, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Craig Calcaterra (the author) does not understand what umpires do, and what they are in charge of. He called them thin skinned. College football doesn’t allow stadiums to show plays under review because fans might influence the calls (I guess they must be thin skinned as well). It works the same in baseball. What if there was a play made the next inning that was also close but the umpire remembers the crowds reaction and in a split second makes the wrong call based on that decision. Are you going to stop the game again? Now the crowd is slowing down the games. The fact that millions see it on media away from the ballpark is completely irrelevant. Those people aren’t yelling at the umpire while he is doing what he is trained to do. The thing is baseball plays happen at a greater speed than almost all other sports, and the ones that happen faster ie, tennis, the total number of possible outcomes after a call is reduced. in or out. In a baseball game a strike, ball, foul, fair, safe, or out call changes what the players are supposed to do next and I just want to say Craig has never been to youth baseball game to see how crazy fans get when it comes to umpires. Also he mentioned that fans are mature enough and security should be able to hold back riots. The objective is to prevent riots from happening. What if there is one riot a year and in all the scuffle a kid gets trampled. Is that kids life and future worth you making sure an umpire gets a call right for your baseball team. NO a thousand times NO!!! If you want to watch at home and get angry at every call that doesn’t go your way then stay home. Finally, the umpires are held accountable behind the scenes. Those replays are scoured and if an umpire miss to many calls he is demoted or fired. the Major Leagues have the best umpires that like most plays had to start well before A ball in the minors.

    end of rant about people who call other people stupid (that’s unprofessional) and do some research.

    • 07bosox - Jul 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      theyoungballgame…Time to get a life! This is not little league we’re talking about. It’s big time baseball! Hi-Tech is here to stay and most sports are getting in on the act. It’s time for baseball to follow suit. Today’s baseball fans are a little bit more civil that those of years gone by. If a blown call is made, and they see it on instant replay at the ballpark, they’re not going to jump out of their seats and “kill the umpire”. The idea is to get it right, and that can only be done by using the tools you have at hand. In this case, the tool is “technology”. There is nothing wrong with asking for help and getting it right. Whether it be getting the four umpires together or instant replay, it would limit controversy and give sportswriters nothing to write about. Oh, incidentally, Craig Calcaterra gets it…umpires are thinned-skinned.

      • theyoungballgame - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        07bosox…I appreciate your opinion on technology in other sports. I would like to point out that technology has failed in the past. I think we remember the Toledo v. Syracuse game where the officials missed the call on the extra point after the play went to review and it changed the outcome of the game. So technology is not perfect. Also, I have yet to come across a computer that can make call on a close play that could send the message to everyone on the field at such a speed that the game is not interrupted.
        There’s a guy on second, two outs. the ball is hit to the third baseman and he throws over to first but the throw is wide. It looks like the throw may have pulled the runner off the bag. The runner tries to score from second, but the umpire called him out at first. End of inning. Worst case scenario the umpire missed one call and maybe a run for one team we don’t know what might have played out.

        What if there was a computer, or a monitor making the calls? Do you wait for the call to be made from the pressbox before you try to make a play at the plate? What if the defense doesn’t try for a play at home because they thought they already ended the inning, and the runner at second scores.

        Honestly, if you think the objective is to always get the call right you are mostly correct. The true objective is to let the star athletes put on a show for its fan base. If a close call gets fudged every so often, yes it can be frustrating, but is getting it right every time worth ruining the show.

        Technology is a tool but it’s the wrong tool for the job. Its like, trying to used a screwdriver to saw a log. it just doesn’t work that way.

        Also, if you think baseball fans are tame then you owe your local team’s ballpark security for removing dangerous fans. They do their best to see that the well behaved fans don’t have their outings spoiled.

  10. whing45 - Jul 9, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Until fans start getting vocal, this nonsense will go on. Games should be won or lost by players , not by the “judgement” of umpires. Baseball has always considered itself a law unto itself. That really needs to change now that we can usually find out for sure.

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