Time to expand replay ... but be smart
CLEVELAND -- It can't possibly be a good day to be Jerry Meals.Here at Progressive Field, where the Indians and Angels were getting ready for an afternoon game, and all across the baseball universe, Meals' controversial call in the 19th inning of Tuesday's Pirates-Braves game in Atlanta was being discussed and dissected, with disgust the prevailing result. We'll never know what might have happened had the game extended to a 20th inning, but Meals could have cost the contending Pirates an important victory by calling Julio Lugo safe at home. It was a call that Meals himself admitted might have been botched, shortly after the fact. And once again, much like the aftermath of Jim Joyce's imperfection on Armando Galarraga's perfect night in Detroit last summer, the baseball world was buzzing about the need for expanded use of instant replay. "I've always liked the human element," Indians outfielder Austin Kearns said. "But at this point, it's kind of like you wish you had some challenge flags or something." Frankly, even those slow to get on board the replay train (and I lump myself into this group) have to be swayed on some level, simply as a product of our times. Because whether or not Major League Baseball extends replay beyond its current application on disputed home run calls, our societal reliance on technology has progressed to a point where every miscue, major or minor, is going to be nitpicked anyway. We might as well make it worth our while. Commissioner Bud Selig's 14-member committee for on-field matters will hold its next conference call on Aug. 8, and you'd better believe instant replay will be a major item on the agenda in the wake of what happened in Atlanta. And yet, the committee members, who were instrumental in the adoption of replay's use on home run calls, must remember that even replay itself is flawed. That's evident when you watch every angle of the Lugo play and realize that a discerning eye could watch the tape and still not come to a 100-percent conclusive decision as to whether catcher Michael McKenry's tag was adequately applied.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.