When Francisco Cervelli’s throw to Derek Jeter arrived at the bag six feet ahead of Ian Kinsler, Jeter knew the Rangers’ second baseman had been caught stealing. He applied the tag on Kinsler’s shoulder and, without waiting for second base umpire Alfonso Marquez’s call, flipped the ball to Cano to start the around-the-horn. Cano caught the ball and stood there agape. Marquez had called Kinsler safe.
Somehow, in the ensuing moment of disbelief that followed, no one on the Yankees was thrown out of the game. Francisco Cervelli ran toward second base with an “Are you kidding me?” look on his face. Jeter says “Wait a minute” and starts conversing with the umpire. Joe Girardi, looking as mad as I’ve ever seen him, comes charging out on the field. But the outrage was to no avail. Marquez wouldn’t reverse his call, and baseball, mired in some traditionalist past where an easily correctible human error is allowed to rule the game, can’t figure out how to implement a sensible instant replay review. In the amount of time Girardi argued, the play could have been called correctly.
It’s not stretch to say that Marquez’s call changed the pace of the game. After Kinsler stole, Mitch Moreland walked, and Bengie Molina sacrificed the runners. Pedro Borbon hit a tapper to second that plated Kinsler, and then Javier Vazquez induced an Elvis Andrus flyout to end the inning. Andrus shouldn’t have been batting, and if the fallacy of the predetermined outcome were to hold true, the inning should have ended with the score knotted at zero.
Of course, the game ended up being a tense and endless one-run affair that ended in a walkoff in the bottom of the 13th. Of course, the Yanks failed to hit with runners in scoring position, going 3 for 17 and stranded 18 runners over the course of the game. Of course, Joba, oh so good lately, couldn’t escape The Eighth Inning with a lead. Of course, the Rangers used their expanded roster to send every person in Arlington to the mound. While the game turned on any one of these moves, the fact remains that Kinsler’s stolen base/caught stealing changed the game.
In 2010, Marquez simply as no excuse. He was standing above the play; he had a great view of the throw and the tag; and yet he missed it. Just as Jim Joyce blew the call in Detroit, so too did Marquez. It happens. But that doesn’t mean it should be allowed to stand. A simple review — one shot of the tag on instant replay — would have been enough to get the call right, and it’s moments such as these — isolated plays where the one event in question triggers a dead ball — are ripe for replay.
Major League Baseball continues to insist that any version of instant replay review would mess with the pace of the game. Fans don’t want to wait, they say, while the umpires huddle. Maybe that’s true for some people, but I’d rather see the umps get calls such as the one last night right. If it means waiting a minute or two, that’s a-OK with me. It’s far more enjoyable to see the game called properly than it is to see Ron Washington make five mid-inning pitching changes.
I went to bed annoyed at the Kinsler call last night, and I woke up still annoyed. The Yanks could have overcome it with just another hit or two with runners in scoring position, but they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. And that is fully on Alfonso Marquez and Bud Selig’s obsession with some misguided notion of nostalgia.