Earlier this morning, I tweeted my agreement with a suggestion by ESPN’s Buster Olney that baseball overrule umpire Angel Hernandez, allow Adam Rosales’ home run and resume Wednesday night’s game between the Indians and Athletics with the score tied 4-4.
I understand the implications of such a suggestion. I understand that hundreds of bad calls have stood over the years. But baseball should adhere to only one overriding concern in this case and all others – precedent be damned.
If an obvious wrong occurs, fix it.
Get it right.
Joe Torre, baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations, acknowledged Thursday that “an improper call was made,” but added that Hernandez’s ruling was a judgment call, “and, as such, stands as final.”
Good for Torre for publicly rebuking Hernandez, who was the crew chief Wednesday night, and good for baseball if it takes the logical next step and disciplines the umpires.
Still, baseball did not go far enough.
This is not the same as Jim Joyce’s blown call in Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game three years ago — that call, on a bang-bang play at first base, was a matter of judgment, and not subject to review on instant replay.
Most other disputed calls — pick your favorite, Angel and non-Angel categories — are of a similar nature. But Hernandez was the only one who seemed to reach a mistaken conclusion on Rosales’ drive, after — as Torre noted — watching the same broadcast replays as the rest of us.
A home run would have tied the score. The A’s, after Rosales’ hit was ruled a double, failed to score after loading the bases and lost 4-3. Imagine how loud the howls will get if the A’s miss the postseason by one game.
Yes, this is about Hernandez, as my colleague Jon Paul Morosi so eloquently detailed this morning. But at some point, it also is about the integrity of the sport.
Sorry, baseball should not say, “Nothing can be changed, it would only open a Pandora’s Box.” Baseball should not allow such a blatant mistake to stand, particularly when the replay mechanism exists precisely to ensure that such errors are avoided.
Each situation is different. Each must be judged on its own merits. If the call had occurred in the fourth inning, sure, my argument would be more problematic. But the call didn’t occur in the fourth inning. It occurred with two outs in the ninth, directly influencing the outcome of the game.
I’m tempted to say that baseball need not worry about precedent — a mistake of this magnitude is so extraordinary, it never would happen again. But baseball teaches us that there is always a next time, always something even more bizarre that might occur in the future.
I’m willing to live with the implications of reversing the call, whatever they might be.
The point of replay — and the point of expanded replay, which, by the way, is already is a year too late — is to get as many calls correct as possible. No one should expect perfection. As we’ve learned from the NFL, replays are not always conclusive. But baseball has been too slow to adapt to implement expanded replay, too quick to make excuses (placement of runners, etc.) for its delays.
Well, here are we are, stuck with today while waiting for a better tomorrow. Why should baseball compound Hernandez’s error by failing to correct it? Treat Wednesday night like a suspended game and resume from the point of the Angel-induced hurricane.
One principle and one principle only should apply.