Wise Up! It’s Time For Instant Replay In Baseball

Dewayne Wise
Photo courtesy of USA Today

I make no secret of the fact that I am a Cleveland Indians fan by birth, or that I am also quite anti-New York Yankee.  That said, I wasn’t really looking forward to this week’s series between the two teams.   The Tribe has been sputtering a little (they can’t all be Jason Kipnis) while the Yankees are en fuego.  Not encouraging.

The Yanks won Monday’s game 7-1, but I still felt compelled to watch tonight’s game.  You know, to support the team, just like Indians closer Chris Perez says I should.  When “Pure Rage” says jump, I ask, “How high?”.

In the 7th inning, Jack ‘Supermannahan’ Hannahan hit a ball foul, and Yankee left infielder Dewayne Wise made a dive into the stands to catch it.   He missed the ball by probably a foot or more – it’s clear from the replay — but when he fell into the stands a Yankee fan actually PUT THE BALL INTO HIS GLOVE.  (That’s right, guy in the red t-shirt.  I’m talking about YOU.)  Wise emerged from the scrum with a ball in his hand and a smirk on his face, and umpire Mike DiMuro called it a catch.  Hannahan was out.

When Hannahan objected and politely invited DiMuro to review the replay, DiMuro ejected him.  Later, though, DiMuro took a peek and admitted his error.

“Now that I see the tape it’s obvious that the ball fell out of his glove. … I should have asked him to show me the ball.”

Wow, ya think?

I am not in favor of wide use of replay in baseball.  For one thing, it’s already far from a fast-paced game.  If every questionable ball or strike were challenged, baseball would turn into cricket.  So I generally accept that umpire error will hurt my teams sometimes, but benefit them sometimes too.  With any luck, the mistakes will end in a wash.

That said, Major League Baseball umpiring is under more scrutiny than usual these days, for good reason, and instances like this support the case for limited use of replay.  Call it sloppy work by DiMuro, or cut the guy some slack by assuming his view of the non-catch was somehow limited.   With the aid of replay, his mistake is indisputable.  Even the Yankee commentators acknowledged it (then quickly moved on).

If each team were allowed, say, two challenges – on defensive plays only — per game, it would be worth the delay.  In the age of jumbotrons, radar guns, and electronic strike zones there’s no excuse for shunning established technology that has been adopted by virtually every other sport to make them more fair and more credible.

That’s my $.02.  We need instant replay.

Also… Yankee fans are cheaters.

Something Unappealing…

Cleveland Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez is putting my happy, Fred-Couples-leading-at-Augusta buzz at risk on this fine, sunny Saturday morning.

Jimenez is pitching for the Indians today, as scheduled, because he is appealing his five game suspension for drilling former teammate Troy Tulowitzki on April 1. Rumor is, though, that he will withdraw that appeal later today — not for reasons of integrity or because he thinks his appeal will be denied.  He will drop it because, after today, the Indians’ schedule will allow him to do so without suffering any negative impact whatsoever.

The Tribe have a day off on Thursday, which means manager Manny Acta can simply skip Jimenez in the rotation next week.  His number won’t be up to pitch again until Saturday April 14, by which point his suspension will have been “served”.

You don’t need a PhD in math to understand that if you suspend a pitcher for five games, at worst he will miss one start because teams generally have five starting pitchers in rotation.  The impact is that a fellow pitcher will have to pitch on four days rest, and the bullpen will likely end up working a few extra innings to fill the gap for that one game — unless there is a day off in the schedule.

If Major League Baseball wants suspensions to be anything more than a slap on the wrist for pitchers, they need to take the five game rotation system into account.  A five game suspension barely registers for a pitcher, as opposed to a catcher, for example.  If straight arrow Buster Posey were ever to lose his cool à la Yadier Molina, Giants fans would likely see back-up, back-up catcher Pablo Sandoval behind the plate.

Nobody, least of all Pablo, wants that.