Tough Series For Larry Vanover, More Replay Needed?

An article by posted on April 12, 2012

Through the first six games, the umpiring in the games the Mets have played has been rather suspect.

But we really saw it take a turn for the worse this series against the Nationals.

Larry Vanover, a 21-year MLB veteran umpire, made a few key questionable calls in this series. The first actually benefitted the Mets when Adam LaRoche was called out at second base in the first game of the series on a play that really wasn’t close at all.

However, during Wednesday’s game, the strike three call to Jason Bay was a monstrosity. The pitch was well into the left-handed batter’s box, and of course it came at a time when the Mets were mounting a rally.

Before even getting into the terrible call, you have to feel for Bay. A big hit in that spot could have gotten him going, but instead the bat was taken completely out of hands. Thanks for that Larry!

Too many times, we have seen the umpiring of a game decide the outcome. Now I’m not saying that if Vanover hadn’t punched out Bay that Bay would have come through. But hopefully Vanover looks at the replay of the pitch to see just how far outside it was.

That leads me to the point of the post: instant replay. It’s been debated and discussed countless times not only in this forum but all around the league.

Early in the offseason, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig mentioned the possibility of expanding instant replay—which right now is just for home runs—to include fair vs. foul calls and trapped balls. However, the league decided to hold back on the expansion for the 2012 season.

But in Vanover’s case, we’re talking about balls and strikes, which the league would never agree to review. Just think: After every single pitch, one of the managers is calling for a ball vs. strike review. The game would take 10 hours.

Detractors of instant replay argue that being able to review a call takes away from the sanctity of the game since an umpire’s judgment has determined close calls for years. Then again though, seeing a batter take “strike three” that is almost a full foot off the plate has put me over the edge. That is what is truly taking away from the sanctity of the game.

I’ll admit, I don’t have the answer for finding a medium between correct calls and a game that lasts forever. But I do know that I would rather see a system in which the correct call is made even if it has to be reviewed.

What if baseball adopted a system similar to football? You get two “challenges” per game, and if you win both, you get a third. Naturally, some plays cannot be reviewed—like balls vs. strikes—just like in the NFL.

Home run calls wouldn’t have a separate review system and would instead be included in all plays that can be challenged.

For example, looking at Vanover’s call at second base on Monday, Davey Johnson would throw out his red flag, and the entire umpire crew would go have a look to make the correct call. Pretty simple right? Especially for a play like that, the umpires really would only have to see the play one more time in slow motion to realize the call needs to be reversed.

I’m curious to hear some other opinions on this or if anyone can add to this discussion. How can this system be figured out?

About the Author ()

Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He earned a Master's degree in journalism from Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Be sure to visit http://www.jimmancari.com/

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