10/16/12 1:42 PM ET
Before calling for more replay, wait an instant
By Terence Moore / MLB.com
Quick: While spanning the 109 years in the game since the first World Series, name as many postseason series as you can that were positively decided by an umpire's gaffe?
I'm still waiting.
The Don Denkinger game, you say? He blew that call against the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, when he said a Kansas City Royals runner was safe at first base when the runner actually was out. It's just that, before the play, the Cardinals botched a foul pop and had a passed ball.
Not only that, the Cardinals had a chance to recover in Game 7, but they were whacked, 11-0.
Jeffrey Maier? Please. If the Baltimore Orioles couldn't recover from something like that -- which happened in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series -- they didn't deserve to win anyway. Which they didn't. The New York Yankees did, along the way to four world championships in five years.
The Orioles returned to the playoffs the following season, but they didn't again until this year.
As a personal note, I spent decades attributing the cause of my Big Red Machine's dropping the 1970 World Series to Ken Burkhart. In Game 1, he called Bernie Carbo out at the plate despite Orioles catcher Elrod Hendricks holding the ball high in the air with his right hand and tagging a sliding Carbo with an empty mitt.
Worse, during the confusion, Burkhart made the call on his knees in front of the plate while looking over his right shoulder.
I've finally admitted the truth: The Reds didn't lose in five games back then because of Burkhart, but because Brooks Robinson went nuts for the Orioles with his bat, glove and arm.
Reggie Jackson's hip interference in the 1978 World Series? Well, the Yankees were just better than the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second straight year. Just like the Yankees would have handled the Minnesota Twins (103 victories for the Yankees, to the Twins' 87) during the 2009 AL Division Series regardless, even though the Yankees were aided by Joe Mauer's "foul" ball that really was fair.
There are a slew of other examples, of course, but few -- if any -- would contradict my overall point.
While you're still thinking, consider this: More instant replay is coming to baseball as soon as next year. It will push the game's current instant-replay system from dealing with only home run conflicts to those involving fair or foul balls and trapped balls.
That's it. That's because nothing else is needed. No instant replay surrounding safe-or-out calls on the bases, and, goodness knows, it should never happen for balls and strikes.
Contrary to popular belief, expanding instant replay in baseball to cover just about everything would lengthen games (see the grousing during instant-replay delays around the NFL, college football, the NBA, etc.). And don't think such a thing would keep managers and players from baseball's ritual of arguing everything.
Here's another thing: If instant replay really is the best thing in life short of finding a cure for cancer, why are folks still grumbling over that Monday Night Football game in Seattle?
We're talking about three weeks ago, when replays showed a Green Bay Packers defender intercepting a ball in the end zone over a Seattle Seahawks receiver. Replays also showed that receiver blatantly shoving his way into position courtesy of pass interference to wrap his hands around the ball at the last second.
The on-field officials gave the touchdown to Seattle. Then, after a (ahem) lengthy delay, the replay officials in the booth upheld the decision. Then, when the situation was reviewed days later at NFL headquarters, the ruling stayed in favor of Seattle -- to the dismay of all those with eyes.
So much for instant replay.
I won't even mention Saturday's game at Notre Dame, where Stanford lost in overtime. The on-field officials said the game was over in Notre Dame's favor after its defense completed a goal-line stand by keeping Stanford out of the end zone from Notre Dame's one-yard line.
The game was stopped for an instant-replay review, and the (ahem) lengthy delay gave NBC time to show over and over again that the Stanford running back likely scored on second effort.
The instant-replay officials didn't reverse the call. And the controversy lives. Just as much as that Green Bay interception that allegedly never happened in Seattle.
But I digress. Back to the question of the moment, and I'm still waiting for an answer. Until then, let's move to the howling these days from the Pinstripe Nation over two blown umpire calls during the ALCS between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. Both calls involved the Yankees' Robinson Cano, which ties into my point.
There was Game 1 on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, where Cano was called out, despite replays showing he was safe. Then there was Game 2 on Sunday night that featured replays indicating that Cano took an outfield throw from his position at second base and tagged out a Tiger baserunner by several feet.
Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, "In this day and age, when we have instant replay available to us, it has to change. These guys [umpires] are under tremendous pressure. It takes more time for me to argue than for them to get it right. I'm not saying Robbie Cano's safe [Saturday night]. But it changes the game.
"There's a lot more pressure on a pitcher when you're up 1-0 in the eighth than when you're up 3-0. I'm not saying that we win the game if the call is right. But in this day and age, there's just too much at stake. And the technology is available."
Just so you know, Girardi was tossed from Game 2 after he argued Cano's tag at second base that wasn't.
Here's what else you should know: The primary reason the Yankees entered Tuesday night's Game 3 in Detroit down 0-2 in the series wasn't because of those two blown calls. It was because they couldn't hit anymore, especially Cano. His 0-for-26 stretch during this postseason through Sunday's game was the worst ever at the plate for anybody in the postseason.
Cano also was joined in offensive purgatory by Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher in the middle of the Yankees' batting order to hit .112 overall with a ton of strikeouts in the playoffs entering Game 3.
You get the point. If not, you can "replay" everything I just typed in your head until you do.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.