CLEVELAND: Major League Baseball admitted Thursday that, despite reviewing instant replays, umpires blew a call that cost the Oakland Athletics a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.
Executive Vice President For Baseball Operations Joe Torre admitted the mistake but said the call will stand.
“Home and away broadcast feeds are available for all uses of instant replay, and they were available to the crew last night,” Torre said in a three-paragraph prepared statement. “Given what we saw, we recognize that an improper call was made. Perfection is an impossible standard in any endeavor, but our goal is always to get the calls right.”
The statement began by explaining that the decision to reverse a call based on instant replay is “at the sole discretion of the crew chief.”
It said Wednesday’s crew chief Angel Hernandez “made a judgment call” that “there was not clear and convincing evidence to overturn the decision made on the field. It was a judgment call, and as such, it stands as final.”
The ball in question was hit by Adam Rosales off Indians closer Chris Perez.
Hernandez ruled that the ball hit the wall but replays seemed to clearly show the ball hitting a railing above the wall and bouncing back into left field.
After reviewing the replays at the insistence of A’s manager Bob Melvin, the umpiring crew returned and Hernandez stuck to his original call. Melvin then raced back out to argue and was promptly ejected.
“We saw what we saw last night,” Melvin said Thursday. “Before the statement was made, we had a pretty good idea that was the case.”
Major League Baseball did, too, as director of umpires Randy Marsh, who declined comment on the disputed call, was in attendance Thursday. Marsh told the Associated Press his primary reason for the visit was to inspect the video replay equipment.
Members of the Indians front office declined to comment on the matter Thursday, but manager Terry Francona addressed Torre’s decision.
“I respect Joe and his statement and I’m glad it stands,” Francona said. “All you can ask of [umpires] is to do the best they can. They went and checked. Obviously it wasn’t conclusive on what they saw, and so you move on. Those things have a way of evening out. There are plenty of nights where I know I’ll go home and not sleep. Sometimes those things happen.”
Even Rosales seemed determined to put the call behind him and move on.
“That’s the final decision,” he said. “I mean, there’s nothing else you can do about it. Once it happened, it happened. It’s over. That was yesterday. We just gotta move on from it and continue forward.”
What remains in moving forward is how to balance the game’s human element with advancing technology. There is talk of expanding the current instant replay system.
“I don’t think replay needs to be expanded,” Perez said. “I like where it’s at on home runs and boundary calls because baseball’s such a fluid game. There’s no timeouts. It’s not like a tackle and you’re down at the 2-yard yard line. In baseball, there’s a human element with errors and guys tripping over bases and all kinds of stuff — and blown calls.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.