COMMENTARY | Seattle sports fans have witnessed some questionably refereed games over the years.
Two of the most memorable NFL officiating disasters in recent memory -- Super Bowl XL and 2012's "Fail Mary" -- involved the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seattle Mariners, however, have not been involved in too many notable umpiring controversies. For one, the Mariners haven't been in the playoffs, where a blown call would get much more national attention, since the 2001 season. Even in their limited playoff history, few egregious umpiring decisions come to mind.
With MLB announcing its plan to expand replay next year, now is a good time for baseball fans to reflect on all the games that could have been changed in history with its inclusion. While the Mariners have nothing in their history of the same proportion of something like a 1985 World Series Game 6 or a Jeffrey Maier game, last year's combined no-hitter would have possibly been overturned if replay had been implemented.
June 8, 2012, was undoubtedly one of the strangest games in Mariners history. In a game started by 37-year-old Kevin Millwood, six Mariners pitchers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 1-0 victory. Millwood, just about the last person this side of Hector Noesi Seattle fans would expect to throw a no-hitter, made it through the first six innings hitless. A groin injury ended Millwood's evening early, but somehow five different relievers picked up where he left off, accomplishing the rare feat of tossing a combined no-hitter.
The game was not without some close calls, particularly two involving Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon. In the fourth inning, the speedy Gordon laid down a bunt and was barely thrown out on a great play by Kyle Seager. An even closer play came in the ninth inning when Gordon hit a weak ground ball to short. Only a nice play by defensive replacement Brendan Ryan kept Gordon from an infield single, and closer Tom Wilhelmsen was able to finish off the game for the third no-hitter in Mariners history.
If replay had been fully implemented in 2012, one of those calls could have easily been overturned. It appears Gordon was out by a split-second on the bunt in the fourth, but the call easily could have gone either way. The ground ball in the ninth is much more debatable, and the call would have had a high chance of being overturned with replay. At worst, for the Dodgers, Gordon arrived at the bag the exact same as the throw. The whole "tie goes to the runner" rule is very ambiguous, but a lot of umpires seem to rule that way, and Gordon would have probably been called safe.
In this particular case, first base umpire Ted Barrett was not at fault, as the two plays were about as close as it gets. But, that's why the new replay rules are a small step in the right direction. The most important thing is to get the call right, no matter how close it was or if it adds some extra time to games.
In the big scheme of things, the call didn't make much difference for either team, but Seattle fans will take what they can get at this point. The combined no-hitter was probably the second most exciting moment, behind Felix Hernandez's perfect game for the 75-87 2012 Mariners. It was certainly the most bizarre.
Nathaniel Reeves is a lifelong Seattle sports follower who is studying journalism at the University of Washington. He currently covers sports for The UW Daily.
- Sports & Recreation
- Seattle Mariners
- Seattle Seahawks
- Kevin Millwood