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Should MLB overturn the A’s-Indians home run call and replay last night’s game?

May 9, 2013, 11:32 AM EDT

Bud Selig

The overwhelming weight of opinion among baseball commentators this morning is that Bud Selig should step in, overturn Angel Hernandez’s bad call of the Adam Rosales non-home-run and force the Indians and A’s to reply the remainder of that game from that point, with the game tied.

Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, among many others are arguing that in columns and on Twitter. Olney’s reasoning is the general thinking:

The commissioner can change this, immediately.

There is precedent, of course, and George Brett knows all about this. In 1983, he hit a go-ahead home run against the Yankees, and the umpires called him out because they ruled he had too much pine tar on his bat. Upon further review of the call, American League president Lee MacPhail reversed that decision — which was the right thing to do — from the point of Brett’s home run, with the Royals leading 5-4.

I get the appeal of that argument. But to think that Major League Baseball will use that as “precedent” is to ignore the fact that overruling the pine tar call and replaying the game created no precedent whatsoever. That game was replayed, yes. But since then there have been hundreds — probably thousands — of clearly botched calls in baseball, and I can’t think of any other games that have been replayed following a Commissioner’s overturn of the calls. There may have been a couple. I seriously doubt there have been more than three, if that.

Which isn’t to say that replaying the game wouldn’t be the right thing. It certainly would be the fair thing. It would not, however, represent the upholding of precedent, as that word is understood among people who make decisions about important matters. To the contrary, the pine tar game and any other replayed game are the outliers. The exceptions to the rules. They’re the 1983 slip opinion from a lower court in a far flung jurisdiction which, however instructive, is not at all binding.

More relavent precedent? Major League Baseball’s ignoring blown calls as if it were required to do so, citing the “human element” and making some reference to “a can of worms,” shrugging its shoulders and hoping to God that one game’s outcome will not impact a playoff race.  That’s like Supreme Court precedent for Bud Selig. And is exactly what will happen here, I wager.

  1. bfunk1978 - May 9, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    No. I mean, it’s over, and it’s not the only bad call in the history of baseball and I’m pretty sure it’s not the only blown call in the history of replay. Replay hasn’t been foolproof in football, either.

    At the same time, this umpiring crew needs to be hit with a sock full of quarters on repeat until they can see what was very plain last night watching zoomed-in replays on MLB Network. As you guys said earlier, accountability is the key here.

    • cur68 - May 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Sock full of quarters? Huh. You Americans. In Canada we’d use a sock full of two-nies. That’d teach ‘em.

      • tuberippin - May 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        Is that how it’s spelled up there? I always had it transliterated as “toonies.”

      • cur68 - May 9, 2013 at 12:29 PM

        I had no idea if you Americans would get “toonies”, but that IS the local vernacular, yes. I opted for “Two-nies” to make the meaning clearer: $2 coin.

        In retrospect, I think I should have just gone with “toonies”. Sometimes its better to be correct than to be understood.

      • chacochicken - May 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        Ahem, I think we could all agree that we should avoid a monetary crisis and simply beat them with a garden hose.

      • cur68 - May 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        Metric-length or imperial-length garden hose?

      • chacochicken - May 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM

        I find one about 70 cm long and 2 cm diameter should do nicely.

      • cur68 - May 9, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        Seconded

    • raysfan1 - May 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      Agree. …and if umpires refuse to see the obvious even after whatever remediation, including the sock full of quarters treatment, then they should learn what an unemployment line is. Part of making a system foolproof is to eliminate the fools when necessary.

    • indaburg - May 9, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      I have a few umpiring crews I’d like to volunteer for your sock full of quarters.

  2. flamethrower101 - May 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    “That’s like Supreme Court precedent for Bud Selig.”

    If there’s one thing Bud knows how to do,’it’s how to humiliate himself when it comes to legal precedent.

  3. waiverclaim - May 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    To those saying “you cant overturn a bad call, what about all the other bad calls” – In this case, its not actually a missed call, its an improperly reviewed replay of a missed call. Different circumstance to others.

    • flamethrower101 - May 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      MLB metaphorically fines you for “blatantly dismissing the human element of baseball” or something

    • joecsports - May 9, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      The NFL. NBA and NHL all use modern technology to get certain calls right and it is time that baseball did. They should stop cowtowing to umpires that have oversized egos and create a better system for instant replay. Wouldn’t it be easier and probably quicker for MLB to have an NHL style “war room” that reviews home runs or balls that could be home runs and get the call right? Why not give each manager one replay review during a game on a close play or ball hit down the line to use each game? HDTV provides millions of fans to view better looks at plays. This dictates MLB coming up with a better system now, Hernandez and his crew are either stubborn, stupid, or both about that missed call last night.

  4. bluburt - May 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    It would take a competent commissioner to make a competent decision…

  5. waiverclaim - May 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    The A’s are involved? If history has taught us anything re: them moving to San Jose, Selig will get back to them on this in over 5 years.

  6. gerryb323 - May 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    This picture of Bud never gets old. I feel like he should be rambling on about jigawatts and flux capacitors!

  7. mybrunoblog - May 9, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    It’s over johnnie.
    Yeah MLB can restart the game. Sure, ok. Then we can go get the 1985 Cardinals and Royals and replay game 6 of the 85 World Series. Then we can get the 1996 Yankees, Orioles, Jeffrey Maier and replay game 1 of the 96 ALCS. Gee, the possibilities are endless.
    Games over. Yeah, it sucks. Sucks real bad but it’s over. Let’s work on better umpiring and forget about replaying games.

  8. rickdobrydney - May 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    The damn game is over—there are plenty of bad calls every day , get used to it — to replay the game sets a dangerous precedent.

  9. kjericho43 - May 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Bud doesn’t want to hurt Angel Hernandez’s feelings. It’s his “human element.”

    • hep3 - May 9, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      And who said Angel Hernandez is human?

  10. sdelmonte - May 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    If we are going to gt blown calls reversed, let’s start with the Gallaraga perfect game and go from there. As much as we all hate to see bad umpiring ruin good games, the rules and precedent don’t allow for reversals.

    The real issue here is the quality of the umpires. Or lack thereof. There HAS to be a better system.

    • Tick - May 9, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      I was going to post the same reference. If they won’t overturn that hideous mistake when the umpire admitted he was wrong and even cried over how sorry he was, there is zero chance of this getting overturned.

    • rbj1 - May 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      And thing about the Gallaraga game is that you wouldn’t have to replay it. The game was over at that point. It’s about the only time I would be happy with a reversal (still steamed about reversing the pine tar game.)

      • bh0673 - May 9, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        Ah yes the pine tar game, but if you remember the whole story Nettles was the one who noticed it and Billy waited for an opportunity to bring it up. Either way the outcome really didn’t matter that one game wouldn’t have changed the season.

  11. drewsylvania - May 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    MLB want their umps have no accountability. If they had to defend themselves, they would risk exposing MLB’s dirty little secret of influencing outcomes through selective enforcement of the rules.

    • blacksables - May 9, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      You know, the entire issue would be moot if they parks were built with actual fences that the ball goes over. You know, over the fence, a homerun, not over the fence ball in play.

      As long as MLB lets them build stadiums with railings/walls/seats right above/behind/next to the fence, this will continue.

      Move the seats and railings back at least 5 feet from any barrier and get rid of the yellow line, and you don’t have a problem. As long the defining line is left ambiguous, there will always be controversy. How come no one ever complains about that?

      I agree the umpires blew the call, but if you guys would put as much effort into bitching about what the problem really is, you wouldn’t have to spend so much bitching about the umpires.

      But where would the fun be in that?

  12. megary - May 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Does anyone really know what review the Hernandez Four actually saw? Were they given the zoomed in shot or only the one that looked like it was shot from up in a tree? If the former, then off with their heads. If the latter, then off with the replay person’s head.

    Until we get some answers, I think we need to hold off swinging the executioner’s ax.

    • Francisco (FC) - May 9, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      Were they given the zoomed in shot or only the one that looked like it was shot from up in a tree? If the former, then off with their heads. If the latter, then off with the replay person’s head.

      The important thing I am getting out of this comment is that someone’s head is going to roll.

    • schlom - May 9, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Or was the replay equipment even working? It seems so obvious that it was a home run that the most logical explanation is that the umpires were not able to access the replays so they let the call stand. That was my initial thought after seeing the play.

      • tommyshih - May 9, 2013 at 9:36 PM

        I could have shown them the replay on my phone with the MLB At Bat app.

  13. billyboots - May 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Well, somebody get the American League president on the phone and…oh wait, there no longer is a president of the league to keep Bud the Dud in check? Sorry fans, no way is this happening.

  14. jonirocit - May 9, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    This whole “the game is over crap and …that’s part of the game” is a joke . We have technology … Use it correctly and for once clean up the officiating . How do we not know that this dude didn’t bet on the game ? His crew was too scared to over ride his call ? This old school unwritten bullshit is a joke ..ill take robots and cameras over a dude who became an ump cuz he wanted to get back at the players who had more talent than him any day.

  15. Dan McCloskey - May 9, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    You’re right that the pine tar game didn’t set a precedent, Craig, because the pine tar game was a protest based on an interpretation of the rules, not something that involved a judgment call.

    Like you said, that’s not to say overturning this call wouldn’t be the fair thing to do, but it definitely would set a precedent they don’t want.

    • Kevin S. - May 9, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Exactly. Unless someone can explain which rule Angel Hernandez misinterpreted, there is no grounds to replay the game.

      • Panda Claus - May 9, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        He misinterpreted the rule about umpires being required to make calls with their eyes open. At least I think that’s a rule.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 9, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        Unless someone can explain which rule Angel Hernandez misinterpreted, there is no grounds to replay the game.

        The rule that says if the ball clears the fence it’s a HR, and not a double?

      • Kevin S. - May 9, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        Snark aside, Angel Hernandez never claimed that. He judged the ball to have not cleared the wall. He was wrong, but he didn’t msapply the rule. No grounds for a protest.

  16. chadjones27 - May 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Honest question. If they overturn the call and replay the game later from the point of the bothced call forward, do the teams have to use the same roster? Or would they have to start the game over?

    • bostonfreeparty - May 9, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      Teams would have to play on from the point in question. If the call got overturned and the game was replayed on, it would start in the 9th tied at 4 with 2 outs. Teams can’t reuse pitchers from earlier in the game and so on. It would hypothetically be treated as a suspended game.

  17. historiophiliac - May 9, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    I’m going to say the same thing I said after the Galarraga fiasco: The only way I would support changes made by the Commissioner (especially this one) is if the umpires union petitioned him to make the change and he did so in deference to them. I doubt the union would do it, but if this became the rare practice, I think it would satisfy AND build confidence in the umpires doing the right thing in situations of gross error. I don’t think it should be a common practice for every blown call.

  18. bmfc1 - May 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    There is no way that The Crypt Keeper overturns this call because he upsets the umpires and sets a recent precedent. Why overturn this one and not McLelland’s blown call against the Mets in Miami? Or tonight’s inevitable blown call? Mets fan know that A. Hernandez should have been dismissed year’s ago. I’m glad that everyone else is finally catching on

  19. hisgirlgotburrelled - May 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    “and I can’t think of any other games that have been replayed following a Commissioner’s overturn of the calls”

    Google tells me there’s only been one game replayed, in 1986 because a game was called after a 17 minute and 21 minute rain delay, which is not the rule on calling games.

    There needs to be an incorrect interpretation of a rule. The bad part of replays is that there is a chance there can be “inconclusive evidence.” In this case there appeared to be very conclusive evidence. But when Hernandez says he didn’t see anything conclusive, that’s the end of it. No incorrect rule interpretation. Had he said he saw conclusive evidence that the ball did not clear the fence then you can say there was an incorrect interpretation of *something*… I would be very very surprised if this was changed (Have they filed a protest yet?).

  20. dlf9 - May 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    The Pine Tar ruling was reversed because it was a mistaken application of the rules. Here, it is not a misapplication of rules, but merely getting the facts wrong. No chance this one gets changed.

  21. cur68 - May 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    I’ve said it before: why in hell is there not a booth ump? Just an extra official to look at the TV broadcast itself. In under a minute all of us watching from home KNEW that was homer. Somehow, all of the on-field officials, who left the field to review the call in their “TV Room”, couldn’t see what we all saw. What’s more they took 10 minutes to ‘review’ and STILL got it totally wrong.

    Its a couple of cell phones: one with the booth guy and one with the crew chief. That’s it. Anything questioned, they point to the booth like the home plate ump asking the base ump for the check swing and they have an answer in nothing flat. If there isn’t enough evidence to overrule, then its over right there.

    The Friggin’ End.

    • indaburg - May 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      Eye in the sky ump NOW.

      • billyboots - May 9, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        I think that you are forgetting that Mr. Selig polls the fans personally and fans DO NOT want instant replay expanded.

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/07/10/quote-of-the-day-bud-selig-continues-to-live-in-utter-denial-regarding-instant-replay/

      • indaburg - May 9, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Bud Selig cares what the fans think? That is news to me.

  22. APBA Guy - May 9, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    The game will not be replayed. Egregious as that decision was, Angel Hernandez has been making appalling decisions, including balls and strikes calls, and getting away with it for years. As Craig pointed out yesterday, Selig’s job is to make money for the owners, and to the extent that the game is played a certain way and that calls are correct, all that is secondary.

    That should not stop fans from howling about horrible umpiring, or having calls reviewed in a centralized booth. The volume of complaint will eventually force changes in umpiring, but only if the complaints rise consistently and in a prolonged way above the “noise level” of complaining about umps that goes on every day.

  23. indaburg - May 9, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    I have a few umpiring crews I’d like to volunteer for your sock full of quarters.

    • indaburg - May 9, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      That was a strange double post. My apologies.

  24. bh0673 - May 9, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Angel Hernandez is a terrible umpire always was and always will be. MLB should overturn the blown call but after the Jim Joyce blunder that robbed a perfect game from Armando Galarraga why would they do the right thing here. Bud really needs to remember the game belongs to the fans and needs the fans to believe in the game. Blatantly bad call especially by a caustic umpire like Angel Hernandez shows the lack of passion for the game as well as the fans. Then again when has Bud really cared about the fans.

  25. gerryb323 - May 9, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    People keep saying there is no misapplication of the rules.
    I thought the rule was: ball goes over fence = home run.
    Here it was: ball goes over fence = double.
    Hence, misapplication of the rule. (and I know they’re saying the ball didn’t go over the fence, but clearly it did, so effectively they are saying ball over fence = double)

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