“If you cheat and fail, you’re a cheater. If you cheat and succeed, you’re savvy.”
By now, we’ve all seen Dewayne Wise’s amazing
catch savviness in convincing the umpires that he caught Jack Hannahan’s fly ball while diving into the stands in the seventh inning of the Yankees’ 6-4 victory on Tuesday night.
As with any horrible call, the error by umpire Mike DiMuro has stoked the fires calling for expanded instant replay during regular season games. After all, we have the technology to easily fix these problems, and proponents of expanded replay point out that getting the correct call is worth the extra few minutes it takes to go over the replay footage.
But proponents for expanded replay are missing a major point about the Dewayne Wise situation; the bad call was made because of an error in process, not physical limitation, and instant replay isn’t required to fix the issue going forward.
Every little league coach I ever had would always distinguish the difference between physical and mental mistakes. A physical mistake is one where a player errors in the execution of a play, but the play itself was the right one to attempt. A mental mistake is one where a player makes the wrong decision altogether, often due to the overlooking of an important detail.
A pitcher dropping the throw from the first baseman while covering the bag is a physical mistake. A pitcher not covering the bag when the first baseman is making a play is a mental one.
The same thing applies to the umpires. For example, any umpire can make a bad call because they did not see a play from the right angle or that they honestly thought they were correct.
Jim Joyce’s famous miscue at the end of Armando Galarraga’s Imperfect Game is probably the most notorious example, as Joyce honestly thought he made the right call until he saw the replay afterward. There was not much else he could have done differently at the time.
This was not the case in the Dewayne Wise situation, as DiMuro (and the rest of the umpiring crew) did not follow the simplest of procedures in verifying the right call by asking to see the ball in his glove. Had one of the umps done that, Hannahan does not erroneously get declared out and expanded replay does not even get brought up for discussion.
In essence, this was a mental mistake by the umpiring crew.
There are many bad calls during the course of the season in which could only be fixed by instant replay. Umpires are human, and they make mistakes just like everybody else. On the other hand, calls like the Dewayne Wise “catch” can be fixed simply by following procedure.
The umpiring crew from the Yankees-Indians game needs to be held accountable, but an expansion of instant replay to every single officiating crew is not the way to do so.