October 19, 2010
Just when you thought that MLB's umpires had turned the corner with a good call in the playoffs, they show up for the next game ... and totally go back to where they were before.
In the wildest second inning we'll see this October, the umpiring crew of Tuesday's ALCS Game 4 came under fire in two different at-bats in the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Both involved what looked like home runs — but replay was only used in one instance to review, and then overrule, the call.
• The first and more controversial call came on the Robinson Cano(notes) drive to right field off Tommy Hunter(notes) that's pictured above. Nelson Cruz(notes) of the Texas Rangers attempted a leaping grab, but his glove ran into the outstretched hands of at least three Yankee fans. Right-field umpire Jim Reynolds quickly called it a home run for the Yankees, but questions were also immediately asked.
Had the fans reached out onto the field and interfered with Cruz?
Or had Cruz's arm gone into the stands at his own risk in the process of attempting the catch?
It was such a close call that everyone expected the umpires to retreat and review the one type of call that is currently reviewable under MLB rules.
But no. Reynolds' far-distance take was ruled a judgment call and that made the play unreviewable. Cano's homer stood, play went on and the Yankees held an early 1-0 lead.
That sequence of events seemed absurd. Why do you even have a replay system if you can't review something as close as interference? Maybe they would have still ruled it a home run for Cano, but not reviewing such a close situation when they had the means to do so was an embarrassing situation for baseball.
And this angle sure shows that Cruz had a case for interference:
Maybe they wouldn't have had this angle available to them, but again, what does it hurt to take a minute to get it right? At the very least, they would have gotten a closer look at the older Jeffrey Maier impersonator who caught the souvenir celebrating in a very New York fashion.
Real classy, guy.
• The second incident happened two batters later when Lance Berkman(notes) lifted a Hunter pitch high near the right-field foul pole. It immediately looked foul on television, but Reynolds ruled it fair and Berkman circled the bases for what looked like a 2-0 Yankees lead.
This time, however, the hit was reviewable and the umpires finally took a look.
Here's what they saw:
Berkman's ball was ruled foul and the home run was taken off the board. Reynolds booted the call, but at least it was fixed.
Here's the question, though: If Reynolds couldn't clearly see a white ball crossing on the foul side of the yellow pole, how could he have been able to tell that there was no interference on the homer by Cano? That umpires were able to use replay on one and not the other just seems silly.