When Replay Goes Wrong

This overturned call in the A's-Astros game is one of the more questionable ones you'll ever see

August 18, 2018

Generally speaking, replay review has been a good thing for the four major sports. Coaches, players and fans especially want to see obvious blown calls made right, and if that takes 10 minutes and stunts the flow of the game, so be it. It's a small price to pay to not get Don Denkinger'd.

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With that being said, there's so much wrong with the replay system, specifically in the MLB. What was originally supposed to be a system that fixes clearly incorrect calls has turned into one that dissects bang-bang, tie goes to the runner type plays like they are the Zapruder Film. The latest of these situations occurred last night in Oakland, when the A's took on the Houston Astros in a huge game in the AL West division race. With the Astros leading 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, A's outfielder Nick Martini stepped to the plate with one out and a runner on first. After working a 2-2 count, Martini ripped one into right field, deep enough for Ramon Laureano to potentially score from first. As Laureano rounded third, the throw from Astros shortstop Carlos Correa came in right on the money to catcher Martin Maldonado, who made the tag and got the out call from the home plate umpire.

But with the play being so close, the A's used their challenge, as they should have. It was a massive moment in the game, as there would either be two outs with a runner on second and the A's still down 3-2, or, if they got an overturn on the review, it's a 3-3 game with just one out and a runner in scoring position. The challenge paid off, as somehow this impossible-to-overturn play was in fact overturned. Check out the full sequence here:

Where to begin? Let's start with the worst part about replay review first. Fans at the Oakland Coliseum, and viewers at home, just witnessed what is arguably one of the best plays you can see at a baseball game. The hit, the run from Laureano, the throw from Reddick to the cut-off man, and Correa's perfect, one-hop throw home that results in a edge-of-your-seat play at the plate. While the A's fans didn't originally get the call they wanted, it's still a wildly intense sequence you can only hope happens at a game you attend. What does replay do? It completely robs the energy from the stadium, sucks the life out of the game and gives us this lovely image:

I can promise you not a single person that purchased a ticket to see this game said, "man, I really hope we see the umps throw on those headphones tonight and stare into space as a bunch of guys in New York decide the game from a control room." I understand getting the call right, but that brings us to the next problem with replay. The system doesn't even bat a thousand! How can you POSSIBLY overturn this?!

We rag on umpires a lot, sometimes deservedly so, but they are all still very good at their jobs. We don't talk nearly enough about how many good calls they make, like this one from Alfonso Marquez. This is one of the hardest calls to make in baseball, and he pretty much nailed it. Instead, the guys in New York made him look like a fool by overturning this. How many damn times have you heard broadcasters say "remember, there needs to be CONCLUSIVE evidence to overturn the call." It's over 10 million times at this point. There is zero conclusive evidence after watching that replay over and over again. You could argue that maybe the glove didn't touch Laureano, but it's hard to tell. Which means it's INCONCLUSIVE!!

The overturn made it a tie game, and they A's went on to win it on this walk-off bomb from Matt Olson:

What a dagger. That pulled the A's within one game of the Astros for the division lead, all because of one of the more questionable replay reviews you'll ever see. Reddick, who made a great throw to Correa, was not pleased after the game:

He's certainly got a point. The replay review system should be right at the very least 99.9-percent of the time. Friday night in Oakland was the .01-percent.

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