During the Red Sox game last night, the Red Sox won a challenge when it was ruled the Astros fielder took his foot off the second base bag just slightly before actually receiving the throw. Pete Abraham tweeted out that while he’s a fan of replay, he hated that review since Ortiz was about 15 feet from the bag at the time.
I responded that the fielder should have had plenty of time, then, to actually touch the bag.
But it’s, obviously, more complex than that.
I am completely in favor of replay. Why not actually get the calls right? In fact, I think it should happen on every play, not just when the coach asks for it. (It will forever bug me that getting a call on the field correct needs to be a coach’s decision.)
But, I can ALMOST understand Abraham’s point. I think the replays are getting bogged down on the frame by frame analysis. If we’re talking 1/16th of a second, maybe it’s best to just drop it. If you can’t overturn it in, say, ten seconds, then let the play stand.
I also understand the idea of not getting all technical on some plays. First base is one instance. Sometimes when a first baseman fields a throw, he takes his foot off the bag almost immediately. He doesn’t want to run the risk of getting it stepped on. That makes sense to me. Sometimes, I’m sure, he actually takes that foot off a nanosecond before the ball is actually in his glove. But, as with Ortiz, if the runner is clearly out and he’s just doing it for safety, I don’t have a big problem. The first baseman doesn’t gain anything by getting his foot off the bag. That’s the big difference last night, and with other instances of the “neighborhood” play. In that case, the fielder is trying to turn a double play. He not only wants to get out of the way of the runner, but also wants extra time to make the throw to first. So, he’s getting an advantage by skimping a bit on actually touching the bag. In that case, the rule outweighs safety in my book. If you’re worried about getting hurt, then just make the play at first. If an outfielder is worried about running into the wall, he pulls back and plays the ball on a bounce. He doesn’t say that even though he didn’t really catch it, the batter should be out because it’s safer. Same thing here. You shouldn’t get to skirt the rules to your advantage just to feel safer.
That’s why I didn’t mind the review last night. While I’m still not a fan of over-analysis, the fact that Ortiz was out by a mile doesn’t matter. It was Hanley that was important. The fielder left the bag early in order to try and make another play. That shouldn’t be allowed. If that same play happened, and it was a potential inning ending force out, I would agree that reviewing it would be crazy. If he had the ball at the bag ten feet before Ortiz, just getting the heck out of the way is advised. He’s not gaining anything by not stopping on the bag. If his foot came off one nanosecond before the ball was in his glove, I’m not going to worry about it.
But, when you’re trying to make another play, you need to make the first one first.