Despite arguments, replay expansion isn't necessary
When it comes to expanding instant replay in baseball, an old saying from my Aunt Flossie comes to mind: Just leave it alone. Oh, and if you're among those who believe this overrated technology throughout amateur and professional sports really can solve everything shy of global warming, let's return to Monday night in Los Angeles.
Listen closely. You still can hear the Colorado Rockies screaming for no legitimate reason.
Here's the bottom line: The umpires correctly ruled on an awfully tough call Monday night at Dodger Stadium without instant replay. They huddled during the seventh inning, and then they declared Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler had trapped a ball during an attempt at making a diving catch against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The television replays also showed that Fowler trapped the ball. I mean, he trapped the ball. The only thing more striking than that was the view of the San Gabriel mountains beyond the outfield walls.
Even so, Rockies manager Jim Tracy blasted the umpires' decision by doing his best imitation of Earl Weaver rolled into Billy Martin, and he eventually was ejected. Tracy continued to fume after a game in which his team nevertheless won, 2-0.
"I think I'm a pretty tolerant guy, but there's a limit to everything," Tracy told reporters. "Quite frankly, I think [Fowler] caught the ball, and there's no question about that. I've seen the replay a few times, and even if he trapped it, I understand and appreciate the fact that the umpires are doing the very best they can to get the calls right. And yet, on that particular play, I find it hard to believe how three other guys can weigh in, being as far away from that as they were."
There are several lessons here about instant replay, and none of them are good. First, no matter who or what makes the calls during games, there still will be arguments. Second, instead of having managers, players, fans, reporters or others saying the umpires are clueless, you'll just have folks chastising the accuracy of the cameras.
What's that old country music song that asks, "Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?"
See a fuming Tracy.
That's what instant replay is worth.
Anyway, you have the wisdom of Aunt Flossie, and you also have that of Uncle Bud, as in Commissioner Bud Selig. For the sake of traditionalists (my hand is raised), he repeated his mantra last month on a New York radio station about the need for baseball to be "very cautious" with expanding instant replay beyond its current limited use.
Since the close of the 2008 season, instant replay only has been used to determine three things, and they all surround potential home runs: (1) whether the ball is fair or foul; (2) whether the ball actually leaves the ballpark; and (3) whether the players are a victim of fan interference.
That's it. Then again, according to Selig, that's not where instant replay will end in baseball.
Said Selig last month on that same New York radio show, "We're now going to add [instant replay] on trapped balls in the outfield and, as I call them, bullets down the right- and left-field line."
Such a move would be in line with baseball's last collective bargaining agreement. The owners and the players union approved expanding instant replay to cover fair-or-foul calls and trapped-or-caught balls, and the umpires haven't a problem with the expansion.
It's just that we'll still have global warming.
You know what I mean? Which brings us to Monday night, when the Dodgers trailed the Rockies by two in the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs and a runner on second, the Dodgers' Shane Victorino pushed a sinking fly ball to center. Fowler slid for what appeared to first-base umpire Mike Estabrook as a catch -- you know, just above the lower blades of the Dodger Stadium grass.
Victorino was called out. End of inning.
Except Dodgers manager Don Mattingly did what managers have done forever in that situation. He questioned the call.
Then the other umpires did what they often do in that situation, which is they joined the umpire who made the initial call to discuss the matter between themselves. They eventually decided as a group that Fowler trapped the ball and that the Dodgers still were alive.
Television replays supported the umpires, of course. In fact, despite all of the bashing involving umpires overall, television replays show they are correct the overwhelming majority of the time.
Folks concentrate on the dramatic misses.
Just in the last couple of years, there was Jim Joyce's blown call in the ninth in 2010 that ruined a perfect game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga. Then there was Johan Santana's no-hitter that really wasn't earlier this season. Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals lined a shot off the New York Mets pitcher down the third-base line at Citi Field, and the ball was ruled foul by umpire Adrian Johnson.
Replays showed it was fair.
Stuff happens. Just not enough for baseball to justify going nuts with more and more instant replay.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.