COMMENTARY | In the top of the fourth inning with the Milwaukee Brewers leading the San Diego Padres 5-0, Carlos Gomez stepped up to the plate to lead off the inning. Starting pitcher Jason Marquis offered, and Gomez clobbered the ball down the left field line. It had the distance -- oh, it had the distance -- but the only question was if it would stay fair.
It didn't. At least that's what third base umpire Bruce Dreckman ruled. Gomez and Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke disagreed with this decision and pled their case to crew chief Gary Darling, as he is the only umpire who can decide if a debated home run is worth reviewing.
Darling consulted with Dreckman, and the decision stood -- it was a long foul ball, and Gomez would not have the privilege of circling the bases.
Now if you're unfamiliar with the layout of Petco Park in San Diego, the left field foul pole isn't really a foul pole. It's the corner of the Western Metal Supply Co. building. If the ball hits the left side of the building, it's foul, and if it hits the right side of the building, it's fair.
Sounds simple enough, but what if it hits the corner of the building, which is exactly what appeared to happen with Gomez's "foul ball?" The ball did wind up deflecting to the left, and that's likely why Dreckman and Darling felt it unnecessary to go to the replay, but since it hit the corner, this could leave things up to interpretation.
While the issue with Petro Park's bizarre left field area is one thing (put a damn pole up, would you?), what's really bothersome here is this -- if the umpires have instant replay at their disposal, then why isn't it being used in such a questionable situation?
It's up to the discretion of the crew chief, but this shouldn't be the case. Managers can't request the crew chief to go look at replay. They can merely argue the call, and perhaps politely ask the umpire to take a peak. This also shouldn't be the case.
Normally, if a manager does leave the dugout to argue a home run, the crew chief will oblige, but this didn't wind up happening on Monday. The debate about how much baseball should expand replay is a tired one and still ongoing, but let's leave that for another day.
Home runs are reviewable plays, and if there's any debate about the call on the field regarding a long ball, it should be reviewed -- period. We can't let egos get in the way as Brewers' play-by-play man Brian Anderson so bluntly put it during the broadcast.
Yes, the argument is that baseball moves at a slow enough pace even without replay, and human error is understandably part of the game, just like in any sport. But just as the NFL allots two challenges per game to the head coach, why can't baseball do the same?
Since home runs are currently the only reviewable part of baseball, one challenge per game for each team would be a step in the right direction and seems like a fair suggestion. If Major League Baseball does decide to one day expand instant replay to other parts of the game, then perhaps two per game would be acceptable.
This doesn't happen too often and normally umpires go to the monitor and wind up getting the call right. But since it so seldom occurs, it's unacceptable for blue to get the call wrong, and that's why challenges need to be instituted.
Gomez would wind up walking in the play and was stranded, but Milwaukee went on to win its eight-straight game by the score of 7-1. The Brewers received a scare when Kyle Lohse exited the game after dislocating his pinky finger while running past Padres' first baseman Yonder Alonso in the sixth inning, but once again, the bullpen was immaculate and shut the door.
Thankfully for the Brewers, Lohse won't miss a start, and Gomez's should-have-been home run didn't cost them in the end. It's too bad for the reigning National League Player of the Week, and it's too bad for baseball.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- San Diego Padres