Video review’s not perfect and people seem shocked
There were so many things we knew about Major League Baseball’s radical expansion of video review before it even started.
We knew it would result in fewer blown calls. We knew it wouldn’t be perfect, especially early on (but also because nothing’s perfect except "Sgt. Pepper’s"). And we knew people would complain about every example of imperfection.
Case in point! John Farrell’s Wonderful Weekend in The Bronx, New York!
Saturday, Farrell somehow realized quickly that the Yankees’ Dean Anna — and yes, it’s worth rolling the Yankees’ Dean Anna around in your head a few dozen times — had lost contact with second base for a few milliseconds after what should have been a clean double. When you watch the replay, it does seem pretty obvious … though I’ll mention, because it will seem at least semi-relevant shortly, that it took Red Sox broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy forever to figure it out:
This is where I point out that until 2014, this play would have been a perfectly routine double: Runner beats the throw with some ease, but does break contact with the base while the tag’s still being applied for just the briefest of moments. But the second-base umpire can’t see it, either because it happens so quickly or because he can’t see everything from where he’s standing.
I’m going to guess this happens every season … oh, maybe a few hundred times. And nearly every time, the runner’s still safe.
Until now. Now, if you’ve got the right system in place, you can catch even the most minute loss of contact with the base. My guess is the Red Sox have the rightest of systems for this sort of thing.
Saturday, the Red Sox were right and Major League Baseball was wrong. And Major League Baseball’s excuses ring hollow … they didn’t have the right camera angles? Anna is out from nearly every angle. MLB’s generally been transparent about the glitches in the system — and the official replay Twitter feed is both essential and refreshing — but I don’t see how you miss that one without a secret glitch.
So, OK. They blew that one. They did not, on the other hand, blow this one:
Just like the other call before 2014, this one would have probably gone unquestioned. With the naked eye, it looks like essentially a tie. Tie goes to the runner, but you’re not going to argue with the out, either. Not with the naked eye.
In this case, though, Joe Girardi argued. And he couldn’t have figured his chances of winning were good. Even with the replay, Cervelli still looks out … until you consider the letter of the law, which apparently says the ball must not be just within the area of the fielder’s glove, but must be secured by the fielder.
Which, in this case, it was not. When Cervelli’s foot hits the base, the ball might not have touched the mitt and it’s certainly not been secured.
That’s the interpretation, anyway. It’s exceptionally close and nobody would have complained much if the initial call had been upheld. These arguments can never end, though. It’s one thing to say a call won’t be overturned without incontrovertible evidence. It’s quite another to agree on the definition of incontrovertible. In this case, I suspect the definition would greatly depend on your partisan interests.
I’m not sold on video review. Not yet. There are still too many reviews that take three or four minutes, which is just too long. But there are far fewer blown decisions now, and that’s a damned good thing. Now all MLB needs is perfection, and everyone will stop complaining.
Rob Neyer does most of his complaining on Twitter.