COMMENTARY | Baseball is set to bring expanded instant replay to the field in 2014, allowing plays to be reviewed to ensure the game is being called as accurately as possible.
Some think it is being instituted in the wrong way. Some think it doesn't belong in the game at all. Others applaud MLB and its desire to get it as right as possible.
But what if baseball allowed instant replay from the early beginnings? What if the technology existed throughout baseball history? Is there a single moment in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals that instant replay would have drastically altered?
The Cardinals have a long, successful history. There are many moments over the years that may have changed the tide and added to that success. Ask any Cardinals fan those questions, and one moment jumps to the front of the line, however.
It lives in infamy and is simply known as "The Denkinger Call."
The Cardinals and Kansas City Royals brought the World Series to the state of Missouri in 1985. The series was immediately dubbed the "I-70 Series," named for the 250-mile stretch of interstate highway that connects the two cities.
The Cardinals had taken the lead in the World Series, winning three games to the Royals' two as the series returned to Kansas City. Game 6 was a pitcher's duel that entered the bottom of the ninth inning with the Cardinals leading 1-0. Young hurler Todd Worrell was on the mound when the leadoff hitter for the Royals, Jorge Orta, hit a slow ground ball to first base. Jack Clark scooped the ball, threw to Worrell covering the base, and Orta was ruled safe.
Replays and photographs showed that Orta was out by at least half of a step. The Cardinals argued briefly to no avail. The call stood and the inning continued.
Ask a Cardinals fan and he or she will surely tell you that the momentum of the game changed in that moment. Sure, the out would have been only the first of the inning, but momentum would have carried the Cardinals through the remainder of the inning an off to champagne in the locker room.
Royals fans have a different view. The Cardinals committed miscues in the field that led to the Royals scoring two runs and winning 2-1 in the pivotal Game. Orta, the runner that reached base on the blown call, was thrown out at third base for the first out of the inning anyway. Denkinger could not be blamed for any of that, could he?
The Royals won Game 7 the next night to win the World Series.
Ultimately, the use of instant replay would have been the only way to tell. Replay officials would have easily overturned the call, the Cardinals would have been far less rattled, and the game may have just completed smoothly that day.
It is easy to assume that instant replay could have put another World Series championship in St. Louis.
- Sports & Recreation