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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. astrocoog - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted a friend (who I knew was watching on tv) from the game re: a close call.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      Noooo! Please! Tell us!

      • astrocoog - Jul 8, 2012 at 8:58 PM

        I’ll go with 33 times. How’s that? Are you proud of the little funny you attempted to make? So. Lame. You. Made. My. Eyes. Bleed.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 9, 2012 at 8:58 AM

        Long weekend with the kids. My lame joke muscles are in peak form.

  2. F14TRex.com - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    MLB would appreciate it if you didn’t point out the reality of the umpiring epidemic, Boston. They’re trying to live in a fantasy world here.

    • baseballisboring - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      Well, I work in the production room of a AA baseball team, and they tell us the same thing. I think it’s kind of a dumb rule, but it is a rule. The people in thee production room at Fenway obviously knew about the rule beforehand, so the smart thing to do is to stay well clear of the line. Doesn’t mean it’s not a dumb rule. but they shouldn’t have shown the replay if it was that close.

      • baseballisboring - Jul 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        Jesus, that many thumbs down? I mean, I said I don’t agree with the rule. But the replays you see on scoreboards are usually sponsored by some kind of company, so you have a quota for how many replays you have to show in a game, usually 4 or 5. If you only have to show 4 or 5 in a game you should save your replays on plays that aren’t gonna get the Commissioner’s Office pissed at you, AGAIN, even if it’s a stupid rule.

      • Gonzo - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:00 PM

        don’t take it personally. You’re name isn’t Randy.

      • highump - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        People are mad that you are steering any conversation from hating on officials. This information you provided has educated us all a bit, hence challenging the “ignorance is bliss” status quo.

      • nesuperfan - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:27 PM

        I did not give you thumbs up or down, but it is not a rule. If you read bigmacmantle’s links below (great work there), one of the articles mentions that it is more of a recommendation, but clearly one they get p-i-s-s-y about.

  3. deathmonkey41 - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    The has union written all over it. Take away accountability whenever possible.

    • thebaseballidiot - Jul 8, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      I worked field security in Safeco, and escorted umpires off the field after a game. To include games where the home fans objected to calls made by the umpires that replays later showed were correct.

      For the privilege of doing so, I was showered with curses from children, doused with sodas and beer, and spit on. All abuse directed towards the umpires and experienced by staff because they made the correct call.

      But yeah, let’s go ahead and call the umpires a bunch of pussies for acutally wanting the basic human protection most people receive in day-to-day life.

      For a bunch of fucking idiots who have never been at field level during a game, you guys make a lot of assumptions about things you don’t know.

      But yeah, lets go ahead and adovcate violence against umpires just because they’re doing their jobs. While we’re at it, why not go ahead and let glass bottles back in the stands so they can be thrown at the umpires. Better yet, let’s pull all the security off the field so the fans can run onto the field and physically attack the umpires when they disagree with a call.

      You guys won’t be satisified until an umpire gets killed again, because that will satisify your self-righteous atttiude about how much better you are than the guys actually making an effort. A death on the field will go a long ways towards showing them just how bad they are.

      And don’t give me shit about over-reacting. If you don’t want to provide them the basic protection they deserve, then you’re advocating violence and hate against them. Rules (in every aspect of society) are put in place for a reason, usually for the safety of someone, and not just to provide ignorant people a reason to have a hissy fit.

      I was watching the game. They got the call right. But let’s go ahead and incite violence because it satisifes some exaggerated sense of entitlement to complain about everything.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:01 PM

        wow…

      • vallewho - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:45 PM

        Killed??? how about just instant replay (tech readily available) and the calls will be the best possible. Everybody know that…just not MLB and the comish.

      • ftbramwell - Jul 8, 2012 at 11:14 PM

        This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. You got soda thrown at you . . . oh no . . . Unless you’re the Wicked Witch of the West, you’ll survive. That we don’t have more officials assaulted (let alone killed) in this country suggests that the current system is working just fine.

        You are right, though, that “[r]ules (in every aspect of society) are put in place for a reason.” It’s just that those reasons are not always good ones. Just so here.

      • cur68 - Jul 9, 2012 at 1:49 AM

        Dude, seriously. Get. A. Grip. NO ONE on here is advocating violence towards umpires, ok? That’s all happening in your head. Since you’re so worried about umpire safety why not get behind video review, then? Video review would ensure more calls were correct, rather than egregious mistakes never being addressed. The chances of violence against umpires go DOWN, not up, with video review.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 9, 2012 at 8:59 AM

        Be careful when you’re getting down from that high horse- we certainly don’t want to incite equine violence of any kind.

  4. titknocker - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    “Perhaps the umpires would be better suited to be umpiring a slow pitch softball game” ~Vincente Padilla

    • bozosforall - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      Padilla is perfectly suited to play for a team (the Red Sox) that won’t make the playoff AGAIN this year.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:39 PM

        He’s back! He’s back!

      • bozosforall - Jul 8, 2012 at 6:21 PM

        Never left…never left

    • drewzducks - Jul 9, 2012 at 12:24 AM

      Looks like someone found their library card.

  5. sknut - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    So this means the umps watch the replay to spy on the team and then go crying to MLB to scold the team, that is shameful. Reasonable fans get that you aren’t going to get every call but when your so small not to allow those in attendence to see the calls because of what your afraid of then you should not be an ump in the first place. Fix this MLB, either with new umps or instant replay or not getting on the teams for showing close plays.

  6. astrosfan75956 - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    MLB gets it Wrong again. As a fan I’m going to stay home where I can enjoy replays of close plays which happen alot in baseball. MLB needs to expand replay and stop being so uptight in general.

  7. drewsylvania - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Instead of this, they should have scolded the team for spitefully giving Darnell McDonald an error for Curtis Granderson’s drop.

    • bozosforall - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      Which team? The Red Sox?

  8. bigmacmantle - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Old news, MLB has done this for 30+ years.

    This noted that the Yankees showed the umpire’s names on the board with the close calls in 1976.
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=a_wtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=cYgFAAAAIBAJ&dq=george-steinbrenner%20replay%20scoreboard%20rule&pg=2055%2C2255219

    • bigmacmantle - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      This is the incident I remember from the 80s:

      http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kgdIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OgANAAAAIBAJ&dq=george-steinbrenner%20replay%20scoreboard&pg=2810%2C1024546

    • drewsylvania - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      It’s still dumb, and worth pointing out when it happens.

    • nesuperfan - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:25 PM

      Really nice use of Google to find that, and the one below.

  9. randygnyc - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Baseball hasn’t showed close call replays in stadium, ever, that I can remember, and I’ve been going to games (over a 1000) for over 40 years.

    Now, should they? That’s a different question all together. I think they should. Security? We’ve already seen that security in some places is willing to taze unruly fans. I don’t think rioting is a concern. Accountability and criticism are the real reasons. Neither of which MLB wants to deal with.

  10. randygnyc - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Baseball hasn’t showed close call replays in stadium, ever, that I can remember, and I’ve been going to games (over a 1000) for over 40 years.

    Now, should they? That’s a different question all together. I think they should. Security? We’ve already seen that security in some places is willing to taze unruly fans. I don’t think rioting is a concern. Accountability and criticism are the real reasons. Neither of which MLB wants to deal with.

  11. cur68 - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Stupid? Don’t insult stupid, Craig. What this is, is hypocrisy. Where’s the human element, then? Isn’t it in seeing exactly how human the umps are? If we ‘prefer’ the human element, then why the heck DON’T we look at the replay’s of the close calls? Couldn’t BE more human than that. Its not like the ump was conclusively proved wrong in this case, now was it? Chickensh*t call, Bud, chickensh*t call.

  12. natsattack - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    I think having the word “stupid” in a sentence 5 times is a HBT record.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      At least without misspelling it once or twice.

  13. watchfullhose - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    The nfl has been doing this for years. They just recently began tossing around the idea of showing the “official” replays in stadiums as a ref reviews the replay “under the hood”. It seems the nfl might be going the other way do as not to alienate fans from attending games.

  14. titknocker - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    I wonder if they yell at ESPN when they show bad game altering calls on Sportscenter?

  15. giantssb42champs - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Yeah this is nothing new. I think the rule makes sense. God only knows the potential mob mentality of stupid drunk overly obsessive Boston fans, or any fans for that matter.

    • titknocker - Jul 8, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      Ehhhh mob mentality maybe in Philly….The rest of the parks should be ok.

  16. styx630 - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Stay classy, MLB.

  17. raysfan1 - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    What MLB does not seem to get is that the transparency from allowing replays to be shown, from having umpires (*gasp*) actually having to be available to reporters, and from having all cases of umpires receiving discipline be made public the way player discipline is…would improve the quality of umpiring, and increase fan trust. It should also be as obvious as an elephant in the room that showing the replay on the stadium video board improves the fan experience, and thus promotes having more butts in the seats (and thus higher revenues, of course).

    “Stupid cubed” did not use a high enough exponent.

  18. yankees177 - Jul 8, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    I dunno I dont think its a terrible rule. I know 99% of the time fans are good people who wouldn’t do anything as stupid as to go after umpires on the field during or after a game. With that said I swear I remember a cleveland browns game where the refs booted a call and the fans rained down batteries towards the refs and the had to leave the field. Granted thats the nfl but whos to say that couldnt happen at an mlb game, say late in the season with the playoffs on the line. If it stops just that one time its not that terrible of a rule. Maybe once IR gets going and umps will actively overturn calls will they show the close plays without fear of incident.

  19. electstat - Jul 8, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Reason #792 to stay home and watch the game on tv.

  20. vallewho - Jul 8, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    I keep saying it to anybody that will listen. MLB will not get their act straight on anything unless they feel it in their wallets or in compelled in court. Fans need to speak with their wallets.

    I’m waiting for the day when fans at a game just walk out en mass, due to some MLB stupidity. No riots necessary. Stop paying for overpriced tickets and concessions. Stop paying for ridiculous cable/satellite sport channel fees. After this year, I will even get rid of my MLB.TV subscription, because of the archaic and nonsensical blackout policies.

    With the whole instant replay / umpire situation, MLB has shown no desire to get calls right. Who could legitimately complain about getting calls right?

  21. stayclassyasheville - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    I don’t care about this outdated old fogey’s game anymore. Baseball is stoopid.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      Jeez, man. It’s a Sunday afternoon. Go talk to your kids or something.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 8, 2012 at 6:47 PM

      Oh, look, it’s Rick Reilly’s new WordPress handle!

  22. dawgpoundmember - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Does bud even have a definition of a close call?

  23. bigleagues - Jul 8, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Craig,

    I could not have said it better myself!

    (and didn’t)

    I would add that for the past 5 seasons, the Celtics have been replaying nearly every close call (and some no-calls) at TD Bank Garden on the HD video boards, sometimes twice and sometimes in super slo-mo.

    And despite some really heinous calls and a symphony of boos unlike that of any in sports . . . no riots yet. I know, hard to believe. But it’s true.

    Also true . . . sometimes the refs have even been vindicated.

  24. JustMeMike - Jul 8, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Going all the way back to Craig’s original post where he included this quote:

    “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.”

    Okay, the Red Sox received a call. From the Commissioner’s office complaining about the video.
    Okay, the umpires are believed to have filed a grievance which led to the phone call.

    And?

    What happened? Will the Red Sox be fined? Will they be required to fire the techie who loaded the replay into the machinery, or the one who ordered it to be shown?

    I think it is just about protocol. The umps complained. BFD. So MLB had to react. I sincerely doubt anything else will happen.

    • bigleagues - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:30 PM

      We agree on this much. Nothing else will happen (with regard to the umpires). And that’s the problem.

  25. rcali - Jul 8, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Please retire Selig so an opened minded person can take over and give us the reply options that the fans are calling for.

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