Major League Baseball continues to live on the edge of insanity by only having a limited numbers of plays that can be reviewed. The instances where a play can be looked at is on a home run call, and that's either did the ball go over the yellow line? Did a fan interfere and reach in to grab the ball? Finally, was the ball fair or foul?
That's it! Which, is tough to believe because there are so many close plays at any of the bases and with check swings. The two main arguments on why replay has not been expanded is because baseball is already a game that can go for three hours or more and stopping the game to review a play would add onto the time of the game, and the second argument is that baseball has had the human element involved.
In the game of the Texas Rangers taking on the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon was ejected on a blown check swing call. It was obvious that Michael Young who was up with two men on wasn't able to check his swing, and if the correct call had been made the Rays would have gotten out of the inning only trailing 2-0, instead Young was given a fresh life and on the next pitch from Chad Qualls, Young homered staking the Rangers out to an insurmountable 5-0 lead.
Check swings should be part of the instant replay expansion. Why? Because the check swings happen so quickly that it's nearly impossible for the umpire looking at the play to make the correct call, although there are times when it's clear that a hitter went through the zone, but what happens when a player moves a lot of their body and not the bat, and the hitter is called for the swing even though he never went around?
In the case of Maddon and the Rays, the argument was that a strikeout with two runners on and Qualls being able to keep the score close could have been a momentum changer for the Rays. Instead it was the Rangers who were the beneficiary of the blown call by Jerry Meals.
If the call had been in the regular season, it may not have been as big of a deal, but in this case the call has helped the Rangers take control of the series with a 2-0 lead on the Rays. Also, this is the playoffs; this is where only the best umpires should be calling the game, and that big of a blown call reflects on the ignorance of Bud Selig.
Replay should have been expanded, but again Selig refused.
Check swings aren't the only plays that should be eligible to be reviewed. Plays at any base should be reviewed especially the close plays making sure that the runner either beat the throw, the tag was missed, or didn't leave the base too early when tagging up. Also, if a ball is hit down the right or left field line whether the ball was fair or foul.
Those would be the most common plays, but others would be making sure a fielder has caught the ball, so if the ball was trapped, if the outfielder goes for a catch but the ball hits the wall before being caught, or if there are runners on base the outfielder makes the catch but on transfer drops the ball, that could be reviewed, in terms of on the bases the play that needs to be reviewed are attempted double plays did the fielder actually have their foot on the bag when the ball was caught or was it in the vicinity of the bag?
Balls and strikes are the only plays that should not be reviewed, but hit by pitches should be.
Don't know how many times there'd be a replay in the process of a double play and the second basemen or short stop were nowhere near having the foot on the bag, yet the runner sliding into second is called out because the fielder was close to the bag.
One of the more interesting plays that happened this year that could have been reviewed was a double play turned by the Oakland Athletics against the Minnesota Twins in Minnesota. Jim Thome was at the plate, and Delmon Young was on first base.
Thome hit a flyball into left center where Rajai Davis camped underneath the ball, Young went half way and watched Davis because if he dropped the ball he'd easily get to second and if he caught the ball he'd go back to first.
Davis did catch the ball but in the process of transferring the ball out of his glove, the ball fell. Young went to second without tagging up and was tagged out because he had not tagged up from first base as the ball was caught.
Confusing play for Young right? From his vantage point he believed that Davis had dropped the ball and therefore did not have to tag up. The replay showed that Davis did in fact catch the ball, but in the process of throwing the ball back is when Davis dropped the ball.
Even worse was the original ruling on the field that the ball was dropped, so Young was safe at second and Thome as well at first. Of course if that call stood it would have meant an entirely different scenario for the A's.
Instead of being two outs with no one on base it would have been no outs and runners on first and second. Bob Geren immediately ran out of the dugout to plead his case with the umpires and after a few minutes checking in with each umpire, the play was finally ruled correct a catch by Davis making Thome out and with Young not tagging up and being tagged out, he was out as well.
Double play for the A's. An irate Ron Gardenhire went out to argue his case, but it was too no avail, and eventually he was thrown out of the game.
Now, if there was replay in baseball all Geren would have had to do is asked the umpire to review the play. Now after watching the replay the umpires could go over to both managers explain what happened and that's the end of that; Gardenhire would have had the same explanation, and the umpire would have had visual proof that Davis caught the ball.
The Florida Marlins had a game taken away from them because Bob Davidson made the wrong call. Even worse is the fact that even after watching the replay after the game, Davidson still believed he made the right call. Instead of a game-ending double, the Marlins went into extra innings and lost.
Derek Jeter showed his true colors a few weeks ago when he pretended like he was hit by a pitch, when the reality was that the ball hit off the handle of the bat. So, instead of a foul ball, he was allowed first base. A few days later Jorge Posada tried doing the same thing, but the umpire wasn't fooled.
Quite possibly the best example of why baseball needs replay was the perfect game that was lost by Armando Galarraga. Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled that John McDonald was safe on a play where Galarraga had to race over and take the throw for the out.
Galarraga beat McDonald to first base, caught the ball, and stepped on first for the final out of the ninth inning, but Joyce ruled McDonald safe instead. Jim Leyland came out immediately from the dugout and argued. Joyce patiently let Leyland blow off his steam and didn't eject him even though there are managers and players that have done far less to be ejected.
After Joyce saw the replay, he knew that he had missed the call and in one of the best displays of sportsmanship, Galarraga forgave him for his mistake. If replay was available, all Leyland would have had to ask for is the replay, and the call would have been overturned, and Galarraga gets his perfect game.
Yet, the biggest question that is going to need to be addressed for baseball is how to implement replay without slowing down the game even more? Should time even be a concern since baseball isn't a game that is played with a time limit so how does a few minutes that fans are waiting for the ruling truly effect the time of the game? Would it be better to have the call made correct and have the game go 10 minutes longer than have a game that lasts for 10 minutes shorter, but the call clearly changes the outcome or momentum of the game?
What baseball needs to do is grant managers the ability to look at the replay of a close play. There should be no limit of how many replays are used because a manager should not be punished for wanting the correct call to be made, so it's not like football where if a challenge is lost there's no more that can be used.
The only question would be is where to keep the replay personnel unlike football there's no headsets to radio down the call. Another question that should be asked is should an umpire on the field be the one looking at the replay or should there be a separate umpire in the dugout of the home team who's role is to be ruling on the replay?
If a call isn't even that close the umpire has the right to decline looking at the replay, so managers don't take advantage of the little break to either have a pitcher get loose in the bullpen or to calm the pitcher on the mound down.
Finally, obvious calls that need to be reviewed should be looked at before a manager even asks, such as on a ball that is down the line or is close at any of the bases.