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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. kalinedrive - May 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    You can’t pick up the game from the point of the homerun, because the Indians did get the 3rd out after that, and the HBP and BB in between were insignificant since there was no opportunity for anything else to have happened even if the lead runner had been in the dugout with a HR instead of on 3rd.

    But, you could reset the game to 4-4 and head to the bottom of the 9th. No harm, no guesswork, no what-ifs. It’s a pretty clean and clear situation where the game should have been tied, the A’s should have had two runners stranded, and we go to the bottom of the 9th. It’s as easy to overturn as the Galarraga call. There were no intervening circumstances that could have changed anything.

  2. Jack Marshall - May 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Not only wasn’t the pine tar game precedent, it was WRONG. The umpires called it right under the rules as the were written, and Billy Martin outsmarted Brett. The game should have stood as it was. MacPhail’s reversal undermined the integrity of the game, and it was predictable that it would be cited as it is now—an excuse for more ad hoc reversals of standing rules.

    • hasbeen5 - May 9, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      What standing rule would be ad hoc reversed here? Other than ignoring blatant incompetence from certain umpires.

    • joecsports - May 9, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      MacPhail reversed the call because the pine tar rule was antiquated. It was created so a bat hitting the ball wouldn’t make it dirty and unusable. It was pure economics in early baseball times and didn’t make sense in 1983. They just didn’t want to throw out balls. Pine Tar is legal for a better grip and did not help George Brett’s ball go for a homerun. Besides, Billy Martin probably had a bat boy put more pine tar on his bat just to use the situation like he did.

      • bigharold - May 9, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        I agree that it might well have been an antiquated rule but it was a rule nonetheless. The umpires made the correct call in the game. Changing it going forward would have made more sense in my opinion.

        “Billy Martin probably had a bat boy put more pine tar on his bat just to use the situation like he did.”

        Martin did display an Evil Genius cunning inasmuch as he waited for just the right moment to play his cards. But, I won’t give him that much credit. Nobody is that good, .. even Evil Genius’.

      • blacksables - May 9, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        Thus, the difference between a ‘rule interpretation’ and a ‘judgement call’.

        Seriously, why can’t people actually read the rule book?

  3. stevem7 - May 9, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Anyone thinking that Bud Selig is going to overturn a result or that Joe Torre is going to discipline an umpire are just blowing smoke up their own rectums. These two losers haven’t had a movement in 20 years.

  4. crashdavis99 - May 9, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Should they? Certainly! Will they? Never! Bud Selig and his cronies have absolutely no integrity.

  5. sanzarq - May 9, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Bud should fire ANGEL HERNANDEZ!! I mean, really – string him up & throw a match. Why is this guy still an umpire?

    • oaktown49er - May 9, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      I’m an A’s fan and although I think it’s too late to over turn this, I agree with sanzarq. Some people just aren’t cut out for their jobs and Hernandez and crew should find other professions.

  6. brooklynboy48 - May 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    No, they shouldn’t reverse the call because as stated this was a judgement call, not open to appeal, so should not be reversed. The remedy should be firing Angel Hernandez, one of the worst umpires working today. By doing this MLB would show they will not allow terrible umps to keep their jobs forever!!!

    • oaktown49er - May 9, 2013 at 7:32 PM

      I totally agree. Although I’d like the A’s to have a chance, it’s too late for that, just don’t let this crew do it again. They need to be let go.

  7. larper2 - May 9, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Call it a home run and call it a tie. Don’t worry about going into extra innings.

  8. cowboyzshininstar - May 10, 2013 at 3:21 AM

    Not under Selig’s watch. Get over it. Umps make bad calls all the time . I’m not saying it’s right to fair. Lets I
    Just be realistic we can kick and scream all we want. It’s in the record books already and nothing’s going to change.

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