Avenging Angel: Will Botched Call Pave Way For Centralized Review?

An article by posted on May 9, 2013

Angel Hernandez, Bob MelvinSusan Slusser of the SF Gate reported this morning on a botched call that resulted in Bob Melvin of the Oakland A’s being tossed kicking and screaming from a game against Cleveland last night for arguing after a home run review didn’t go his way.

With two outs in the ninth, Adam Rosales hit a drive to left field that seemed to clearly hit a railing above the edge of the wall tying the game, yet somehow, crew chief Angel Hernandez ruled that there was “not enough evidence” to overturn the call. Apparently, actually seeing the ball clear the wall, is not enough.

”Everybody else said it was a home run, including their announcers when I came in here later,” a miffed Melvin said. ”I don’t get it. I don’t know what the explanation would be when everybody else in the ballpark knew it was a home run.”

”Clearly, it hit the railing. I’m at a loss, I’m at a complete loss,” Melvin added.

Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal are both calling for resumption of the game from the point in the ninth inning where Rosales tied it 4 – 4. While the chances of this happening are slim, MLB will likely offer some consolation in the form of an “official statement” … there may even be a “policy review.”

The term that’s being knocked around a lot this morning in light of this astonishingly bad call, is “centralized review.” Central review is similar to what is employed in the NHL, involving a team of officials monitoring a video bank (most likely in N.Y.) with access to all the video feeds of all in-progress games.

During the off-season MLB also agreed to test two advanced replay systems live during games, a radar-based system and a camera-based system, similar to the ones used in tennis for down-the-line fair-or-foul calls. Yankee Stadium and our very own Citi Field were chosen as guinea-pig parks for these systems, which have apparently already been installed.

So my question is, where were these systems during the botched call in the ninth inning the other night? In fact, where are these systems period? I don’t see them, are they so advanced they have “stealth” capabilities? Is the box that Buck crashed into last week that prevented him from making a play in foul territory part of these systems? Are they supposed to interfere with players that way? How are they testing these systems? Is there a team of officials umpiring certain games in a video room and comparing their results with the rulings on the field? A digital domain, if you will, where the alternate umps officiate in real time only instead of wearing black outfits they’re dressed in blue spandex dotted with blinking LED lights … Maybe instead of popcorn and hotdogs they snack on couscous and baby carrots …

In 2012, Ken Rosenthal, in the midst of his little conniption over Santana’s no-hitter, reported that commissioner Bud Selig remains wary of slowing down games for fear of a “robotization” that may eventually extend to balls and strikes. Robotization, yep, that’s the word he used … Bud Selig is afraid of a robot takeover. Can you imagine? A terminator-series cybernetic umpire? Hasta la vista Bob Melvin.

One thing is clear, in an age where video review is everywhere, where anything out of the ordinary can end up on Youtube in a nanosecond, MLB is well behind the curve.

The purists will tell you the game doesn’t need to be changed, but there is a growing consensus that technology has improved to such a degree that the game would be improved dramatically with the addition of these technological assets.

I’m all for it … in fact I don’t see what would be so difficult about equipping umpires with some high resolution 12 inch tablets with direct links to all the video feeds. Umpires could watch the game as it happens … shucks, they wouldn’t even have to be at the game, they could officiate from the comfort of their living rooms thereby also avoiding any potential bodily harm from fan riots.

Thoughts from John Delcos

There’s arrogance. There’s blind arrogance. And, there is Angel Hernandez arrogance, which by the way, incorporates a little bit of the blind.

bob melvin angel hernandez

Another night, another blown call, but Hernandez’s last night in Cleveland was compounded by his bullish behavior afterward, which should be met with swift and forceful action by Commissioner Bud Selig.

“Probably the only four people in the ballpark,’’ Oakland manager Bob Melvin said about the umpire’s non-reversal.

Replays clearly showed the ball struck a metal railing over the padded outfield wall. More to the point, after striking the railing, the ball ricocheted as you know it would when it strikes metal. Umpire supervisor Jim McKean told ESPN.

Hernandez, using the umpire’s stock get-out-of-jail-free card, said: “It wasn’t evident on the TV we had and it was a home run. I don’t know what kind of replay you had, but you can’t reverse a call unless there is 100 percent evidence and there wasn’t 100 percent evidence.”

Hernandez clearly didn’t want the interview recorded because he could come back and claim he was misquoted. The quote the reporter acquired the old fashioned way was damning enough.

The umpires use the same camera angle used in the broadcasts and have additional cameras. To suggest the reporters had different camera angles is absurd, not to mention a fabrication.

Hernandez was trying to cover up his own ineptitude with an outlandish story. Clearly, he blew the call, threw dirt on the system used to correct mistakes, and compounded his failure by refusing the interview to be recorded and his arrogant answer.

The ball now is in Selig’s court, and with his powers “to act in the best interest of baseball,’’ his reaction should be swift.

The call should be reversed – to hell with it being in the umpire’s judgment – with the game resumed after the home run. Any fines for Melvin and Rosales should be rescinded.

As for Hernandez, he must be fined and suspended for his actions. Selig needs to come down hard on Hernandez. Really hard. And, in the future, any attempt by an umpire to bully reporters by preventing interviews to be recorded should be met with similar punishment.

About the Author ()

I’ve been a Met fan since August 1969 when a fire resulted in the Red Cross placing my family on the 6th floor of a building in Willets Point. I could see Shea from our balcony and I knew something big was going on. I followed them through the dark years and the resurgence of the 80’s only (sadly) to miss the fall of 86 because I was in Boot Camp. I've been serving penance ever since in Minnesota where I'm an SLP. I've written a lot about the Mets in an effort to share with my kids (and anyone else who might listen), a sporting tradition that made much of my childhood worthwhile. Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewBalasis

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