The paramount importance of getting it right

Saturday morning links
Pettitte one more rehab start away

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.

Saturday morning links
Pettitte one more rehab start away
  • Pity Me, I’m a Mets Fan

    They should instant replay on a challenge based system, like in football. That call was horrendous.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      The NFL’s challenge system is stupid as well. Just get the call right. Teams to trying to rush a play so you can’t challenge? WTF is that? Either use instant replay or don’t. There shouldn’t be a stategy for having the officials do their job right.

      • Pity Me, I’m a Mets Fan

        Yea it is. Fortunately, there is no way to rush a play or anything in baseball. I meant similar to football in that a manager gets a certain number of challenges, and the challenges are not wasted if the call is overturned.

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          I know what you meant. Challenges are a ridiculous suggestion, in my opinion. It should be the responsibility of the game itself to get the calls right. Like I said before, there shouldn’t be a strategy to getting correct umpiring.

          • Esteban

            College football gets it right. There’s no challenges, just booth reviews on tough calls. You’re right, if the point is to make the correct calls then a limited challenge system is stupid.

            • Brien Jackson

              Well, on the flip side, college football reviews way too many plays.

  • bexarama

    It’s asinine that the LLWS has instant replay but MLB doesn’t. Like you said, a few more hits with RISP changes the result of the game but hey, a correct call on that tag changes the result of the game too.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I loved how Marquez took Kinsler’s word on being safe. Kinsler is so fucking scraptastic, must have been his time spent with the Scrapmaster at ASU.

    • Pat D

      And yet, ironically, he was later tossed from the game.

  • Matt Imbrogno

    The umpires don’t even need to huddle! Just have an extra ump in the booth who overturns any disputed calls via video. It’s quick and it gives a job to another umpire.

    • Newbie

      +1 At this point, many of the opponents are just throwing out arguments. There is no reason it should take more than a couple of minutes.

    • Mike Axisa

      Yep, agree completely. Another ump in the booth, give the crew chief a beeper or something simple that relays the correct call. That’s it, end of story.

      • kosmo

        Great idea and wouldn´t in any way diminish the flow of the game.

        • Marcos

          BUT TEH HUMIN ELEMENT!!!1!!eleventy!!


    • Bob Stone

      Agree completely. But that is too simple and too good a solution. Selig will never understand its beauty!

    • Pasqua

      I like it, but what happens when teams (mgrs and players) start “disputing” calls that they would normally just grin and bear? I know these replays could, theoretically, be done quickly, but I think you would see a nauseating increase in disputes. This would certainly lengthen the game to potentially unbearable levels.

  • yankthemike

    when he called him safe i wondered to myself if we lose the division by one game, this call could be the reason. fan over-reaction? maybe, but this was SO egregious that I don’t care how many people say “these things even out in 162 games”…it just doesn’t mollify me. last night was a heartbreaker that we could have won in SO many of the innings …lets not forget Tex being hosed in the 13th. if he had properly been awarded 1st base after that ridiculous 3-0 call, he would have scored considering the way that inning played out. i’m still pissed off over the whole game. Ron Washington’s moves for the first time in my life turned me against the september call ups having no restrictions.

    • V

      Part of me wants the Yankees to call up as many minor league pitchers as they can, have AJ start warming up late, then when Hunter finishes the first inning, start the first inning with one reliever. Have him throw a pitch, replace him with another reliever, etc., etc., etc., etc., icing Hunter, then put AJ in.

      • Betty Lizard

        I would like to watch that.

  • Kurt

    I have never seen so many blatantly bad calls as we’ve had this season. The quality of ML umpires must be really deteriorating.

    • Bob Stone

      It’s been bad this year but no worse than 2008 and 2009. Remember the ball hit by Mauer (or was it Morneau – I forget)that was inside the foul line in left field by three or four feet in the MN ALDS game, and it was called FOUL? That was one fo the wrost calls ever.

      But I agree with your point that umping is looking worse and worse.

  • vin

    As bad as the blown call at 2nd was, Dale Scott was even worse. He had not control of the strike zone. Unfortunately, I’ve been conditioned to live with an ump calling balls srikes, and vice versa as long as he’s consistent.

    However, every umpire will tell you the worst thing he can do is give make-up calls. Scott consistently gave each team make-up calls last night. He calls a strike a ball. The pitcher/catcher/manager bitches. Next pitch in the same spot is then called a strike.

    He was awful. No pitcher can be expected to succeed in those circumstances.

  • Carcillo

    Alfonso Marquez is no stranger to making quirky calls like that. He’s made a few of them that I’ve seen alone this season.

  • thurdonpaul

    Home plate umpires should not be allowed to be actors, either a pitch is a strike, or its not. They should not be putting on a show back there. Just do your job, fans are not there to watch you do your act!!

    • Not Tank the Frank

      But they need points for the style portion of the competition.

  • T-Dubs

    Preach Brother Ben.

  • Tom Zig

    After what has happened this year, it’s hard to think of an argument against replay.

    Solid work Benjamin.

  • Mister D

    But changing a pennant race through human error is part of the game! It’s what fans pay to see! It’s the way its always been! We can’t change it now just because it would be fair!

    • Bob Stone

      Yeah, yeah. Right. We have to maintain the inegrity of the game.


  • j-f

    It is one thing to miss a bang-bang play. If it is so close that you need to look at four different angles to get a conclusive answer, I can’t really blame the ump for making a mistake. He is only human after all. BUT – this was not bang-bang. Kinsler was out by a mile and a half and there is absolutely no excuse for missing that call. Even if there was instant replay, there is no reason for it to be needed on that play.

    • Mister D

      I’ll disagree with you. Over the course of a 162 game season, I expect a human being to make mistakes, even on what seem to be no-brainer plays (when see in high def slo-mo). What is unforgivable is the fact that we 1)know these mistakes will happen, 2) have the ability to easily correct many (most?) of them, and 3) refuse to do so while 4) pretending this is integrity.

      • j-f

        I agree that there should be some sort of instant replay system in baseball but I stand by my statement that it should not be needed there. Even in full speed the runner was clearly out. A major league umpire needs to be able to make that call without replay.

  • cano is the bro

    good rant kabak, im just as annoyed about all of this as you are. I know it’s just one game and we are still probably going to win the division but watching a game like that where if so many little things had gone our way for us instead we would have gotten the W, so annoying to watch.

    I’m all about instant replay, i dont know why fans would be against waiting for the call. In football i find it exciting when they are reviewing a big call that could change the game.

  • larryf

    Sorry guys and gals-I know i am old school-but the fact that Girardi couldn’t even get thrown out of the game on such a bs call like that….

    I won’t be the least bit upset if he doesn’t come back next year. For me, it is not about “what good would that have done?”

    It is about standing up for your players, your captain and really venting and unloading on the ump for the pathetic call…

    • Little Bill

      Maybe the ump gave Girardi more leeway because he knew he blew it. Girardi does a lot of stupid stuff that’s worth complaining about, but this isn’t one of them.

    • Zack

      What does being old school have to do with it? You’re just nit-picking.

    • steve (different one)

      is this a serious post?

      you won’t care if Girardi is gone next year b/c he didn’t get tossed? he’s been tossed plenty of times.

      you are acting like he was asleep during the incident like Torre circa 2007. he came storming out and went nuts.

    • Pasqua

      I award you no points…

  • icebird753

    Damn, the Royals signed Pat White

  • MikeD

    I’ve wanted more instant replay available for years. I don’t buy Selig and Company’s excuses. It wouldn’t slow the pace. It actually created a bit of anticipation and tension while the play is reviewed.

    MLB needs to stop finding excuses for not implementing wider use of instant replay, and instead start finding how to more widely use instant replay. It is not longer 1875.

  • Fred Arena

    That call at the end of the day along with Tex getting screwed on the 3-0 in the top of the 13th clearly cost us the game. However, if you look at the replay Jeter has to get in there with a harder tag. This is not a Sunday morning beer league game and even with all the replays you never really saw the tag hit the body. He should have been called out because the throw beat him by 10 feet but sometimes you have to play with passion and part of that is putting your body there with the tag.

    • Mister D

      I’m sorry, but Jeter made the play, and made it by a mile. The blown call isn’t because he wasn’t theatrical enough. He did his job, the ump didn’t.

    • Ellis

      Agreed. I’m pro-replay, but even the replays here didn’t convince me that jeter’s glove ever hit kinsler.

    • Bob Stone

      That doesn’t work for me. Get rid of the umps. Bring on robots. Total instant replay on every call from an ump in the booth.

  • Bob Stone

    Hallelujah – My sentiments exactly Ben. Replace the umps with Robots and bring in instant replay. MLB, specifically Selig, is not keeping up with technology. He is ruining the game. When is Selig going to join the rest of us in the 21st century?????

  • cano is the bro

    dammit….the rays are up 11-1.

    • whozat

      Please keep comments on topic, per the commenting guidelines.

      • cano is the bro

        wow really dude, its related to the yankees its not like im talking about some random shit.

        come on

        • Benjamin Kabak

          No, he’s right. We have guidelines and an off-topic thread. Your posts about the Rays’ game doesn’t belong here.

  • Mike Nitabach

    As bad as the blown call at 2nd was, Dale Scott was even worse. He had not control of the strike zone.

    Agreed that Scott was absolutely horrendous. He had no concept of the outside corner. There were a few times when a Yankees pitcher got an outside strike call that was so egregious that even Girardi was shaking his head in disgust.

  • Baboo

    It’s time to revamp the whole instant replay in baseball. I firmly believe there is a place for instant replay, but I fear that some rules may slow the game down even more. In my humble opinion, I present the following option:

    Managers have one (1) challenge that can be reviewed in any situation play. There is no instant replay to called balls and strikes. In the event of extra innings, there shall be no additional challenges available to either team.

    Furthermore, the CREW CHIEF ONLY may opt to review any situational play that he deems appropriate. Again, there shall be no review to called balls and strike.

    The current process can stay in place, with 3 umpires viewing the instant replay and 1 umpire staying on the field.

    I believe that this option is fair to both teams, and allows the CREW CHIEF some leeway to ensure that the right call is made. I realize that this may lead some to believe that certain umpires may abuse the system and review every last close play, but the job of a crew chief umpire should be to use some sort of discretion in ensuring the game continues at a reasonable pace.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      I think this option is too restrictive.

    • whozat

      How about what Mike said. 5th ump in the booth who’s on the line with the crew chief at all times. He can tell the chief if the call should stand or not, the crew chief makes the call on the field.

      No muss, no fuss.

    • Zack

      Why would you give the umpires on the field MORE power? Do you think Joe West would EVER pause the game for a replay?

      The guy in the booth would get 3-5 looks at the play before Joe West even gets his fat ass back behind the plate.

    • tommydee2000

      I don’t think the Crew Chief should determine if his own call is reviewed. There should be a designated Assistant, and either he or the Crew Chief should be able to call a conference without prejudice.

      It’s too much of an ego thing for an Ump to say he isn’t sure.

  • waka flocka

    It also doesn’t help that Vazquez couldn’t hold a lead to save his life.

    • whozat

      Don’t let the fact that Vazquez was in line for the win til the 8th get you down.

      • waka flocka

        Wins are a great way to measure a pitchers performance. 5IP, 4ER, 6H, 2BB, 1K is a stellar performance.

        • Matt Imbrogno

          That’s not his point; his point is that Vazquez–and the non-Joba relievers–kept the Yankees ahead.

          • waka flocka

            And if Vazquez could go longer than five innings maybe the Yankees have some of those non-Joba relievers available later in the game.

            • Matt Imbrogno

              I agree, but your assertion that he didn’t hold the lead is at least partially incorrect.

            • Benjamin Kabak

              The only reason Vazquez didn’t go more than 5 last night is because Girardi pulled him after 86 pitches and an infield single. You claim Vazquez couldn’t hold a lead, and that’s not true. He wasn’t spectacular, but he never gave up the lead. The team’s inability to hit with RISP, Joba’s crappy pitch selection and the blown call were far more responsible for that loss than Vazquez last night.

              And I say that as no big fan of Javier Vazquez.

            • whozat

              Sure. But you bitched that he couldn’t keep a lead. Which was false.

              Whining about Vazquez when he gave up like…two well-struck balls all night is dumb.

        • Tom Zig

          better than what he’s given us recently

          • waka flocka

            That isn’t the point. I am glad he is just back to being bad instead of atrocious. If the Yankees don’t win the division it won’t be because of a blown call at second. It will be because they were silly enough to stand pat with Vazquez and Burnett at the trade deadline.

            • Benjamin Kabak

              If that isn’t the point, then why did you say it? It’s your point you’re now saying isn’t the point. Make up your mind!

              • Matt Imbrogno

                Pick a side! We’re at war!

                Stephen Colbert

              • waka flocka

                I honestly think that my dislike of Javy Vazquez pitching for the Yankees is just clouding my thought process. I am raising my white/attempting to use a get out of jail free card.

            • Tom Zig

              and who do you suggest the Yankees should have acquired? We tried to get Cliff Lee, but the Mariners went back on their word. Aside from that, no one was available without emptying out the farm. Would I have liked to trade for Josh Johnson? Sure. But it would cost something like Hughes, Joba, O Cristo Redentor (both the statute and the player), Romine, and Sladerunner. Also known as: not worth it.

  • a plethora of pinatas

    Bottom line: Alfonso Marquez is a blind, crooked idiot! How much did Nolan Ryan pay him for that game???????

  • Captain Bawls

    I didn’t watch the game (mercifully), but seeing the replay, I can safely say that is the worst call of the entire season save for maybe the Galarraga incident.

  • MattG

    “Fans don’t want to wait, they say, while the umpires huddle.”

    They’re absolutely right.

    “but I’d rather see the umps get calls such as the one last night right.”

    You’re absolutely right.

    “If it means waiting a minute or two, that’s a-OK with me.”

    What if it means waiting an extra half hour, combined per game? The thing people ignore, when they talk about all the arguing, are all the plays umpires get wrong that no one argues. It’s an incredibly common occurrence that an umpire blows a call, and nothing happens. If there were an instant replay system, meaning the umpire’s call was not final, a manager would be compelled to argue for instant replay on every single close play. I can’t estimate with any certainty, but I don’t think an extra half-hour per game would be unrealistic.

    IMO, there is only one way to institute IR. Players and managers are not allowed to argue, and a 5th umpire in the press box views the replay. If that umpire is able to determine the call on the field was wrong within 20 seconds or so, he let’s the crew chief know, otherwise play continues.

    I can easily put holes in any other system. This is the only thing that might possibly work.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      IMO, there is only one way to institute IR. Players and managers are not allowed to argue, and a 5th umpire in the press box views the replay. If that umpire is able to determine the call on the field was wrong within 20 seconds or so, he let’s the crew chief know, otherwise play continues.

      That’s what everyone here seems to want.

      • MattG

        Yes, except for the part where the players and managers are prohibited from arguing. People continue to say the 5th ump will not affect the flow of the game, ignoring the fact that the presence of the 5th ump will lead to a lot more arguments, thus significantly impacting the flow of the game.

        The 5th ump can see within 20 seconds if a call might be wrong. That won’t affect anything, but the increased arguing will.

    • Zack

      “What if it means waiting an extra half hour, combined per game?”

      It doesn’t take that long. And if they have THAT many blown calls- then the umpires should be force to get their asses in shape, and get monthly eye-examinations so they don’t miss 20 calls a game.

      • MattG

        Dude, did you read what I wrote? Some ridiculously high percentage of close plays, whether the umpire gets it right or not, aren’t argued. If the umpire’s call isn’t final, they will be argued. No one has any idea how much time that will add to the game, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the umpiring. Make it so the umpire’s call isn’t final, and you will see a massive increase in arguing.

  • TheZack

    Ding ding ding. We have a winner. Not that anyone cares to think about that. Its all perfectly simple. And yet, of course, its not. Instant replay in baseball would be EXTREMELY difficult to implement. Not that anyone is reading this anymore