SAN FRANCISCO — I’m not really much of a replay guy, at least not in baseball.
I like the element of human error. And with four umps on the field, it shouldn’t be that hard to get a call right. And sometimes even a video replay is not conclusive. So, why tinker with tradition?
And yet, I have to admit that tonight there was a play in the Pirates-Giants game where replay would have been the perfect antidote to a blown call.
In the fourth inning, Bengie Molina and Scott McClain singled, putting runners on first and second with none out. Aaron Rowand hit a hard liner to shortstop Luis Cruz, who jumped and knocked the ball down.
Molina retreated to second base a moment before McClain also arrived there. Cruz tossed the ball to second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who caught it and stepped on the bag. Then Sanchez tagged Molina, who was standing on second.
Second base umpire Tom Hallion called both Molina and McClain out. Rowand reached first on a fielder’s choice. Hallion’s decision was based on Rule 7.08e, which involves force plays.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy briefly argued the call. Bochy suggested Cruz had intentionally dropped the ball. Hallion stood his ground and Bochy went back to the dugout.
“They both can’t be out there,” Bochy said later. “(Hallion) said he got it right. That’s what he told me. He also said he didn’t think (Cruz) intentionally dropped it and that’s his judgment call.”
After the game, however, Hallion looked at a replay — and admitted he blew the call.
“What the correct call should have been is, Bengie should have been allowed to stay on second,” Hallion said. “Because when the second baseman received the throw, Bengie was standing on second base, which removes the force play. The guy on first (McClain) is out, OK? But Bengie, because the force is removed, should have not been called out.”
But, Hallion said, since Bochy argued only that Cruz had intentionally dropped the ball, the ump did not consider the lack of a force play.
“If Bruce had come out and said, ‘Tom, he’s on second and that removes the force,’ I would have gotten all four (umps) together (to discuss it),” Hallion said.
Sounds to me like Hallion is passing the buck. It’s not Bochy’s job to enforce the rules or decide if the correct call was made; it’s Hallion’s. He should have huddled with the three other umpires, just to double-check what he’d called.
The mistake worked to the Pirates’ advantage. The next batter singled, which probably would have scored Molina, if he had been allowed to stay at second base.
The instant replay system adopted recently by MLB would not have applied to this situation. It’s meant to judge fair or foul balls, home runs or loud strikes/ground-rule doubles.
But it would not have been a bad thing if Hallion could have looked at a replay right away to check himself, and then corrected his error.