Thursday, September 4, 2008

A-Rod at Center of MLB's First Instant Replay

Nearly a week after it was introduced, instant replay made its debut last night and it was a bust.I was watching the Tampa Bay Rays host the New York Yankees on ESPN last night when in the 9th when Alex Rodriguez hit a long, long foul ball off Rays closer Troy Percival. I knew it was foul because the ball hit the catwalk in foul territory. But the umpires ruled it fair believing it had touched the foul pole. A-Rod's 31st home run, a two run shot, gave the Yankees an 8-3 lead. The Rays made a stink about it, particularly catcher Dioner Navarro, and crew chief Charlie Reliford decided to examine the videotape evidence.

Only two minutes and fifteen seconds later, the umps emerged and upheld the call. What's not clear is what videotape feed they saw - ESPN's, the Yankees telecast or the Rays. Or did they look at all three. Whatever feed they examined they botched the call. One of the arguments in favor of instant replay was that it was important for the umpires to get it right. Well, that certainly was not accomplished in last night's game which the Yankees won 8-4.

Ironically, back in May A-Rod had lost a homerun as a result of a botched call at Yankee Stadium. In a game against the Baltimore Orioles, A-Rod had hit a homerun over the right center field wall but the ball hit a staircase and bounced back on the field. A-Rod was awarded a double. So perhaps the umps wanted to atone for that error and last night gave them that opportunity. With the homerun, A-Rod hit his 549th career homerun passing Philadelphia Phillies legend Mike Schmidt for 12th place on the all time homerun list. Next on A-Rod's sights is "Mr. October" Reggie Jackson with 563.

It is clear there are chinks in the armor of instant replay.

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