Baseball Replay

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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

I'm joining the chorus that has long been begging for instant replay in baseball. There are examples of blown calls at crucial moments that made the difference in a team's winning or losing. For me, it was Tuesday night's Yankees/Angels American League Championship Series game that pushed me over the edge. Three glaring, definitive ump errors in a game the Yankees romped in a 10-1 victory, a game that nobody could claim should have gone the other way, convinced me it is utterly absurd to conduct these meaningful professional games without using the replay camera angles that prove unquestionably what just transpired.

It was the fourth inning. Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher was a few feet off second base. Angels pitcher Scott Kazmir spun around, fired to the second baseman to pick Swisher off. The ump signaled Safe. Swisher beat the throw back to the bag. But every replay, from every angle, could have been used in a trial as indisputable evidence. Swisher didn't beat the throw. He was Out, Out, Out. It's more than absurd that we at home see the High Definition, larger-than-life replays. We know the Angels should now have an out and the Yankees should have nobody on second base. Yet there Swisher is, on second base.

There is too much money paid, too much fan emotional investment, to play out these fictions, once all of us at home know the real truth. We can't prove balls and strikes so that should be left to the umpire's human eyes. But we can prove, with a myriad of angles in slow motion, whether a ball sailed out to a legitimate home run…and we can prove Safe and Out base calls.

Just a minute later, Swisher has moved on the third base. A fly ball to center calls for him to tag up and then head home. Which he did. The replays, again from every imaginable angle, showed that his foot was dead on the bag when the ball smacked into the outfielder's glove. Swisher was OK but the ump called him Out. As Derek Jeter put it later, those two calls evidently evened things out. But there was simple, irrefutable, visual proof that two calls in one Championship game were wrong.

Then the third incorrect call in one game was too patently absurd for us to take this antiquated system anymore. The Yankees Jorge Posada gets into a run-down back to third with the Angels catcher Mike Napoli. As they both scramble to third, who do they find there but Yankees Robinson Cano who has run from second. Two Yankees. Only one bag. Napoli tags both of them. Cano is way off the bag. Steps away. A Grand Canyonesque swatch of dirt sprawls between his shoes and the bag. The ump calls Posada out and Cano safe. WHAT? Are you kidding me? They say the hand is quicker than the eye and I can't blame the umps for missing calls that happen in the blink of an eye. But I'm telling you Robinson Cano was far, far off third base when he was called Safe Tuesday night.

The long-standing argument against instant replay in baseball is that the stop-down to review the camera angles would make an already long game insufferably long. How much time is taken up in each game with the manager huffing and bluffing toe-to-toe with an ump after a call? Now that's wasted time. There could be a replay team upstairs. They quickly review each close call and pass their final word down to the field within a minute or so.

Bud Selig doesn't want technology to interfere with the historic flow of the game. Come on, Bud. Don't make us sit through replays at home and then watch the players carry on, not knowing what we know, the truth.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.

Banner image: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees slides into home base ahead of the tag of Mike Napoli #44 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as Home Plate Umpire Jerry Layne calls Cano safe during the forth inning in Game Four of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on Tuesday in Anaheim, California. Photo: Jacob de Golish/Getty Images



Diana Nyad