Umpire Phil Cuzzi Showed Us Why Instant Replay on Fair/Foul Balls Is Needed

Brandon Erickson@derkipstaCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2009

I sat at a local pub this Friday night taking in Game Two of the ALDS of the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees. I thought it would be an interesting game, to be sure. If Minnesota would win this game, they would split the series with Games Three and Four at the Metrodome. With two wins at home, they could win the series without ever returning to New York. However, this did not happen.

In a game that proved to be a game of broken opportunities for the Twins, it appeared that even late inning blown calls were fitting to a game not going their way.

Starters Blackburn and Burnett pitched near perfection keeping their opponents hitless and guessing.

In the fourth inning, Twins center fielder Carlos Gomez overran second base on a single with two outs and got caught before teammate Delmon Young stepped on home plate.

Throw in countless questionable pitch calls and many knew this game was going to be a close one. After Minnesota scored in the eighth inning to lead the game 3-1 heading into the ninth.

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Upon entering the bottom of then ninth, Mark Teixeira hit a lead off single followed by a clutch home run by Alex Rodriguez off of Twins closer Joe Nathan blowing a save opportunity.

Upon escaping the inning, the Twins would try and settle it in extras. After escaping a near miss the bottom of the 10th, the Twins would open the top of the 11th with AL Batting Champ, Joe Mauer. He opened up on a hit down the left-field line.

Left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi called the hit foul despite being clearly fair by about a foot AND hitting New York left fielder Melky Cabrera's glove.

This play infuriated me not only as a Twins fan, but as a fan of baseball all-around. Especially after the following hitters Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer followed up with singles to fill the bases.

I did feel a bit of justice as a Twins fan after seeing Mauer single up the middle later in the at-bat, but afterwards, a big sign pointed to this replay and pointed to a bigger problem that just can't be overlooked...

That even an umpire not even 15-feet away staring right at the play can miss an obvious call.

With that said, here's what I wonder Bud Selig will try to 'ignore' in order to not instate replay on fair/foul balls...

  • This was a playoff game. High stakes are a part of it and makes the games worth more. This means essentially that the blown call(s) would be an even bigger cost to who truly is the better team.
  • This was an extra-inning game. The later the game, the more tedious the calling should be. This big of a blown call seems only bigger when the game pivots on every play.
  • This was a pivotal game. By a Twins victory, the advantage goes to Minnesota with the next two games being played in Minnesota. If Minnesota wins those two, the Twins could be preparing for the ALCS rather then staving off elimination.
  • This was the only game on. Kind of harsh when every baseball fanatic witnessed this.
  • This was a nationally televised game. So not only is every fan watching baseball watching this game, but everyone in the country.
  • Left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi was starring right at the play.
  • Cuzzi was 15-feet away.
  • He missed the fact that it hit Melky Cabrera's glove...in fair territory... and still bounced...in fair territory.
  • And the big one...he had no obstruction.

Let's be serious. You can NOT miss this call in the 11th inning of a playoff game in a pivotal game that could ultimately decide these team's fates.

At no other time has replay made more sense in a modern day scene. In the playoffs, no team should have to suffer a loss, especially when two hits follow a supposed double. At worst, the Twins would have been up one run heading into the bottom of the 11th. With that said, the game would have continued at a 4-4 tie.

Food For Thought

In my opinion, the Yankees have never looked any weaker.

First they pay more then the Twins payroll in pickups last offseason to upgrade their roster, then they make the ballpark so shallow the Twins could become the bombers, then umps hand them games...what's next?