It didn’t happen much in today’s 7-4 loss to the Yankees, but the Red Sox did look like they had caught one significant break in the eighth inning. Yankees shortstop Dean Anna doubled on a hard line drive to right field and was into second base cleanly. However, after sliding safely into second base, his foot came off of the base while Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts‘ glove was still on Anna. Nobody caught that except for Bogaerts and manager John Farrell, who quickly headed out to second base umpire Ron Kulpa to issue an easily-winnable challenge.
So, the Red Sox had caught a break and now had two outs in what looked to be a very tight spot for reliever Burke Badenhop. But wait. The call wasn’t overturned.
Inexplicably, the seemingly-obvious call was not overturned by Kulpa and his crew. The play wound up proving inconsequential as the Red Sox would have lost regardless of the call at second, but it still raises questions over the legitimacy and reliability of the instant replay and challenge system in Major League Baseball.
The responsible umpires later admitted that they made the wrong call. But why? How did a group of trained officials miss a call twice, once with the help of instant replay, and only realize their error on the third try?
It’s absurd that any fan can peruse these plays on a huge, high-definition television while the ones actually making the decisions do not have “immediate access” to certain camera angles. Obviously, expanded instant replay is a new phenomenon in Major League Baseball and this represents a serious kink that will need to be worked out soon. The umpires missing the call once would have been understandable, as Anna’s foot was only slightly and briefly off the base, but missing it even with the aid of instant replay is completely unforgivable.
Hopefully, as the season continues and the umpires become more accustomed to the use of instant replay, these mistakes will become a thing of the past. However, that had better come soon as these are exactly the mistakes that instant replay was intended to prevent. This call was relatively minor, but what if something like this had happened in a high-leverage situation, perhaps on a game-deciding play? MLB had better get this new system worked out now before something consequential happens.