I’ve long been considered to be a baseball purist. I do not like interleague play during the season and I totally disagree with MLB’s decision to use the winning league at the All-Star Game to be home team in the World Series. For years, World Series home team alternated every other year to each league. The All-Star Game is not a regular season game that counts for anything other than fan enjoyment. Even player stats are not affected by what they do in the All-Star Game, so why should it make a difference in the World Series.
So I broach one of the touchiest subjects with Major League Baseball fans and that is the subject of instant replay. Should MLB incorporate instant replay for controversial plays as most other professional sports have done?
Purists will quickly respond with an adamant NO! For years I was one of them. However, I am beginning to rethink my views on the use of instant replay in MLB.
This past Tuesday’s game between the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. The Yankees were leading 4-0 going into the seventh inning. The Indians managed to get a runner on base when Jack Hannahan hit a fly ball to left field. As the ball went over the fence, Yankees outfielder Dewayne Wise dove over the fence in an effort to catch the ball. The ball hit his glove and bounced out, but third base umpire Mike DiMuro called it a catch and Hannahan out without looking to see if the ball was in the glove or not.
The Yankees went on to win the game 6-4 and no one can say whether or not the call would have made a difference in the outcome of the game or not. Hannahan saw the ball come out of Wises’ glove and the fan come up with the ball so he went after DiMuro for the bad call. Hannahan was subsequently ejected from the game. Had instant replay been available it would have taken only one quick review to see that the call should have been reversed.
ESPN did not provide an embedding code for the video so Click Here if you would like to see the play in question.
I’ve seen more and more games in the past couple years that have had bad calls. It seems to be a growing trend and one that could be mostly avoided. Purists say it’s all part of the game and that it all washes out in the end. But does it? Have bad calls really made a difference in the long run?
To answer that question, it brings me to Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. Being an avid Cardinals fan, I remember Game 6 as if it were yesterday. The Cardinals held a 3-2 game lead going into Game 6 which was played in Kansas City. They also held a 1-0 lead after 8 ½ innings and were three outs away from winning their National League record tenth World Series.
The first Royals’ batter in the bottom of the ninth was Jorge Orta who hit a ground ball to Cardinals’ first baseman Jack Clark who tossed the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell who tagged the first base bag a full stride before Orta crossed the plate. However the umpire, Don Denkinger called Orta safe at first. There was a long argument between the Cardinals and Denkinger who refused to reverse his call and did not call on any of the other umpires. Replays clearly showed that Worrell tagged the base before Orta arrived and that he should have been out. Eventually, Orta was driven in home to tie the game and the Royals subsequently added the winning run later in the same inning to send the Series into Game 7 which the Royals won, securing their first World Series championship.
All of the baseball analysts at the time agreed that if Denkinger had made the right call that there is a good chance that the Cardinals would have won Game 6 and their tenth World Series. The difference is not only just a title and prestige, but thousands of dollars for the team and their players.
For the most part, instant replay has worked well in many sports and I am beginning to believe that it would help eliminate the majority of human error on the part of umpires who can’t always see what’s happening and end up making calls based upon their impression of what happened rather than what really happened. Who knows, had instant replay been used in Tuesday’s Indians – Yankees game, perhaps it may have made and difference in the outcome.
I’m curious to hear what everyone else thinks.