Thursday, May 9, 2013
Selig should overturn botched call
By Buster Olney
There really is no gray area with the disputed home run call in the Oakland Athletics-Cleveland Indians game: Upon further review, the umpires still missed an indisputable call on Adam Rosales’s long drive to left-center field.
There could be explanations. Maybe the television that the umpires have in Cleveland to review home runs is an old black-and-white from 1957 and has a problem with its horizontal hold. Maybe the remote control ran out of batteries.
Maybe there is some Magic Baseball thing going on, like the Magic Bullet Theory: The ball stops in mid-air, changes direction, goes down, changes direction again … back and to the right … back and to the right … back and to the right…
The evidence is clear, and action is needed. Immediately. As in, the next few hours. The Athletics are in Cleveland and will play the Indians in a noon game today, and what needs to happen is for the commissioner to use his powers and overturn the call of Angel Hernandez’s crew, and replay it from the point of the disputed home run. The score would be 4-4, it would be the ninth inning. Then, after the resolution of that game, the two teams can play the regularly scheduled game.
If Bud Selig did this, it would reinstall integrity to how the replay system was supposed to work in this case. Inaction from the commissioner would be as inexplicable as the umpires’ decision to not change the home run call.
The reason why they put in replay was to provide umpires with the tools to get the home run calls right, when possible, because Major League Baseball determined that a would-be home run could be integral to the outcome of the game. And on Wednesday night, we saw this: Rosales’ long drive would have tied the game in the ninth inning.
Instead, the conversation is about the competence of the umpires and how the system doesn’t work.
The commissioner can change this, immediately.
There is precedent, of course, and George Brett knows all about this. In 1983, he hit a go-ahead home run against the Yankees, and the umpires called him out because they ruled he had too much pine tar on his bat.
Upon further review of the call, American League president Lee MacPhail reversed that decision -- which was the right thing to do -- from the point of Brett’s home run, with the Royals leading, 5-4.
On Wednesday, a longtime player watched the game in another clubhouse, in another part of the country, and couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“How could we tell using the standard definition television in our clubhouse and [the umpires in Cleveland)] can’t see it?” he said. “No television they were watching on was worse than what we were watching on. The whole point of having replay is to get the call right. If the process failed, whatever the reason -- since it’s a reviewable call -- they need to right the wrong.”
If Selig doesn’t do this, than this call is going to be brought up over and over and over, like a scab that keeps getting picked -- like the missed call at the end of the Armando Galarraga would-be perfect game. And if Oakland winds up in a tight race for a playoff spot, well, the commissioner should prepare for a daily review of MLB’s blunder.
He can change all of that. Quickly. Decisively. And while there might be some mild response from the Indians’ organization -- if any at all -- the commissioner would be armed with the strength that he got the call right, which is the whole point of having replay available.
The Indians’ quotes in this story are pretty funny, because they’re trying to stay out of the whole issue. The whole Oakland team knew it was a home run, writes Susan Slusser.
The Indians’ attendance has been an issue, writes Bud Shaw.
Around the league
• A few hours before Paul Goldschmidt wrecked the Dodgers again Wednesday night, Arizona GM Kevin Towers talked about the first baseman’s evolution as a hitter. “He’s really good at in-game adjustments,” Towers said. “He has a real feel for how people are pitching to him.
“If you watch him closely, you’ll always see him talking to himself. I think what he’s doing is visualizing something good happening. He’s like a young Paul Konerko -- he’s just a good hitter, and he’ll kill you if you make mistakes. He’s just one of those guys who seems to come up with the big hit; he’s a tough out in those situations, and he’ll give you quality at-bats.”
Plus, Goldschmidt is a good defensive first baseman, and is an excellent baserunner; he has 26 steals in 29 attempts in the big leagues so far.
Goldschmidt had his first career multi-homer game, first time in his career homering in three consecutive games. Arizona beat the Dodgers again, and the Diamondbacks seem to be gathering momentum.
J.J. Putz has a major elbow injury, and Heath Bell took over as closer on Wednesday night.
• J.A. Happ returned to the bullpen, feeling very fortunate.
• The Padres are far from signing Chase Headley, but this point is worth remembering: What they need, above all else, are veterans like Headley. Flipping Headley for a package of prospects, on the other hand, wouldn’t really help San Diego climb to the next level, because the Padres already have a deep farm system; they have prospects.
So the Padres will endeavor to work out a multi-year deal with Headley, even if the talks don’t happen until the offseason. They want to keep the third baseman, and intend to do so.
Meanwhile, the Padres continue to win, this time behind Jason Marquis.
• Roy Halladay will have surgery and his future with the Phillies is now in question. Halladay has never been about grabbing the last nickel in negotiations, and is more about being where he wants to be -- and he likes playing for the Phillies, who have spring training close to his home. My guess is that he’ll work out a modest deal with Philadelphia for 2014 that will pay if he performs well.
• Felix Hernandez and A.J. Burnett had a great matchup.
From ESPN Stats & Information, how Mariners starter Felix Hernandez beat the Pirates:
1) He threw 54 of 97 pitches (55.7 percent) to the outer third or further away, his second-highest percentage in a start this year. Pirates hitters were 0-for-14 with three strikeouts in at-bats ending with a pitch in that location, including 0-for-9 against the fastball.
2) Pirates hitters were 1-for-8 with men on base, including 1-for-6 with men in scoring position against Hernandez, with the only hit coming in the first inning. He threw 32 of 45 pitches (71.1 percent) to the outer third of the plate with men on base.
3) Left-handed hitters were 0-for-8 against Hernandez. He threw more off-speed pitches (17) than fastballs (16) to lefties, and both of his strikeouts of left-handed hitters came with the changeup.
• Right now, Jordan Zimmermann is one of the five best pitchers in baseball, and he shut down the Tigers Wednesday.
From ESPN Stats & Information, how Zimmermann beat the Tigers:
1) The Tigers hitters were 2-for-10 with men on base, including 1-for-6 with men in scoring position against Zimmermann. The Tigers are hitting .300 with men on base this season, best in the AL.
2) He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 29 hitters (72.4 percent), well above his season average of 55.1 percent entering Wednesday. Overall, he threw 71.3 percent of his pitches for strikes, and 64.4 percent of his pitches in the strike zone, both season highs.
3) Threw 32 sliders out of 101 pitches (31.7 percent), his highest percentage in a start this season. Tigers hitters were 2-for-9 in at-bats ending with a slider, including three strikeouts. The 16 swings and five misses induced with the slider were both season highs.
The Tigers raved about Zimmermann. From George Sipple’s story:
“Explosive,” said Torii Hunter. “He’s good. His fastball is very sneaky, explosive. I know he throws 94-95, but it plays like it is 96-97. It was a sneaky short arm. He’s good. I tip my cap to him.”
Miguel Cabrera said seeing Zimmermann in spring training is different from facing him in the regular season.
“He pitched very good, seven innings,” Cabrera said. “Seven strong innings.”
• The Nationals overturned their rainout policy, which was the right thing to do.
Notes from ESPN Stats & Information:
• Starling Marte led off Wednesday’s game with a double, the 17th time he’s led off a game (top or bottom) with a hit this season. Nobody else in the majors has more than 10.
• The Cubs and Cardinals both hit into four double plays on Wednesday. It is only the fourth game since 1916 in which that has happened.
• Yankees starting pitcher David Phelps batted eighth in Wednesday’s interleague game at Colorado. The last Yankees starting pitcher to bat in that spot in a game was Don Larsen on August 28, 1957.
• Felix Doubront became the first relief pitcher to go 5-plus innings, allow six-plus earned runsand 12-plus hits in a game since Brett Tomko for the Cardinals on June 14, 2003. He is the first Red Sox reliever to post such a line since Ed Durham on July 9, 1931.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Reds have a tough decision to make in whether to keep Mike Leake or Tony Cingrani, as Paul Daugherty writes.
2. Rickie Weeks was dropped in the Milwaukee batting order.
3. Buster Posey was out of the starting lineup Wednesday.
Dings and dents
1. Johnny Cueto is getting ready for his minor-league rehab assignment.
2. Jayson Werth will have an MRI today.
3. Jeanmar Gomez is stepping into the rotation.
4. Curtis Granderson is set to play in a Triple-A game.
5. Miguel Gonzalez is dealing with a blister.
6. Brian Roberts had hamstring surgery.
7. A.J. Pierzynski is headed to the disabled list.
8. Joel Hanrahan can’t grip a baseball, as Scott Lauber writes.
1. The White Sox revamped their lineup and won.
2. The Cardinals finished a great road trip.
3. The day after Matt Harvey, the Mets lost.
4. Allen Webster was pummelled, as Brian MacPherson writes.
5. The Royals had a disastrous inning, writes Bob Dutton.
6. Kyle Lohse didn’t get enough run support.
• Terry Collins raved about Matt Harvey’s performance.
• A young pitcher was effective again for the Phillies.
• Fredi Gonzalez is going to miss a couple of games.
• Adjustments are paying off for Dan Uggla, as Carroll Rogers writes.
• We had Andrelton Simmons on the podcast, to talk about a big decision in his career path.
• A psychologist watched the Cubs work out.
• The Cardinals are pushing it on the basepaths, writes Derrick Goold.
• The Dodgers’ losing streak has reached seven.
• The Orioles moved into a tie for first place.
• Vernon Wells played some third base, and the Yankees won.
• Joe Girardi is cutting-edge.
• Ricky Romero was touched up by the Rays.
• James Loney is off to a good start.
• The Twins had their best night in Fenway in almost 50 years, as Mike Berardino writes.
• A splitter is working for Zach McAllister, writes Paul Hoynes.
• Bunting is back in the game for the White Sox leadoff hitter.
• Sam Mellinger has some thoughts on the Royals’ bullpen issues.
• The Astros got a great game from Bud Norris.
• Derek Holland got some help from his defense.
• Once again, Joe Maddon had a dispute with Marty Foster and was ejected.
• There is sad news about the wife of Sparky Anderson.
• The Tony Bosch case was referred to Florida prosecutors, which could be good news for Major League Baseball, which can work in the wake of state investigators.
And today will be better than yesterday.