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Minnesota Twins: How Replay Could Have Usurped Phil Cuzzi's Blown Call in the 2009 ALDS

With the Upcoming Expansion of Instant Replay, the Twins Know How a Look at a Replay Could Drastically Change Their Fortunes

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | With Major League Baseball announcing that instant replay will be expanded to allow managerial challenges in 2014, it's hard for some to grasp that the poetic nature of baseball could be compromised. To those people, the expansion of replay replaces the human element that makes the game so "perfect."

But, perfection has been compromised by the sport with plays such as Don Denkinger costing the St. Louis Cardinals the 1985 World Series and Kent Hrbek pulling Ron Gant off the bag in the 1991 World Series.

Fans of the Minnesota Twins know this too well as a blown call by umpire Phil Cuzzi swung the momentum toward the New York Yankees in the 2009 American League Divisional Series.

Two nights after the hungover Twins (who were fresh off clinching the American League Central against the Detroit Tigers less than 24 hours before) dropped Game 1, they looked for retribution against a Yankees team that had their number in recent history.

After Joe Nathan blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning by giving up back-to-back home runs to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the two teams brawled into the 11th inning where the American League MVP Joe Mauer would lead off.

Mauer lined a ball to the left field corner of Yankee Stadium in the at-bat and Cuzzi declared it foul after seeing it land in fair territory. This call still angers Twins fans for many reasons.

First, Cuzzi wasn't at third base where, in a regular-season game, the umpire would be required to make the call. He was in left field where MLB places an umpire so he can get this kind of call right. That means that he blew the call while standing directly in front of the play.

After Mauer recorded the out, the Twins followed this botch with a pair of singles that should have scored a run after a leadoff double and given the Twins a 4-3 lead.

If the Twins could have held on to that game (and that's not a given by any stretch), they head to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome with the series tied at one game apiece. That adds a new dynamic to the series and possibly swings the momentum in the team's favor.

With the new rules in place, those "what ifs" will turn into real-life scenarios with Gardenhire walking to the crew chief and using one of his late-inning challenges.

Look, it would be grand if the umpires never got a call wrong and baseball could be written about with green grass, blue skies and the notion that everybody goes home happy. But that just can't happen because umpires are human.

Whether it's this play or another one by your favorite team that has you pulling out your hair, the expansion of instant replay is strictly for the fans. They drive the sport, and this decision by MLB lives up to the old adage that, "If you boo until you're blue in the face, it will come."

Chris Schad is a lifelong Twins follower that has spent a majority of his life cheering the Twins on through the dark '90s and success of five American League Central championships in the 2000s. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.

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