Until replay officials overturned a call made by Chad Whitson on Tuesday afternoon, umpires had been perfect this spring in Major League Baseball. Not literally perfect — in fact, there have been plenty of complaints — but none of their calls had been overturned by video review.
Whitson's call was corrected after he ruled that infielder Andrew Romine of the Los Angeles Angels had dropped a ball while trying to transfer it on a double play in the eighth inning. Romine never had control of the ball in the first place, replays showed, and was handed his second error of the inning. Instead of a force at second base for the second out of the inning, the Mariners were able to continue their rally with the bases loaded and one out. The M's were trailing by a run at the time of the reversal, but they scored three times in the eighth and added four more in the ninth in a 10-6 victory.
The process was a tad time consuming, considering that McClendon argued the first ruling and Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued the change. But what's another 3 1/2 minutes off everyone's lives, all told, if they get the call right?
Via MLB.com, McClendon said bench coach Trent Jewett suggested he argue Whitson's original call.
"Trent told me he thought it was a bobble, and I said, 'I agree, let's go out and see what happens,'" McClendon said afterward.
After the call was overturned, the Mariners caught and passed the Angels for a 10-6 victory -- and McClendon knew before the game was over that the replay would be a postgame topic of discussion with the media.
"I also told Trent we'd be talking more about this … replay than we will about the game. But that's the way it is," McClendon said.
As it should be. The results of Cactus League games certainly aren't worth too much concern. And the other "baseball" details of the spring-training process — such as how a certain pitcher threw the ball, or whatever — aren't as urgent when compared to how the new replay system will work. Not all spring games are "replay games," or ones that have enough TV cameras on them for full coverage.
To that end, Scioscia said he expects the way infielders turn double plays to change because of the kind of scrutiny the Romine play invites:
Scioscia, while noting that managers and umpires are still working out the parameters of the new system, said it's that type of play -- a transfer of the ball from glove to bare hand at second on a potential double play -- that could come under higher scrutiny going forward.
"Before, it was called really loosely, where if you had the ball in your glove and you moved your glove to get it to your bare hand, it was [called an out]," said Scioscia, who briefly got an explanation of the reversed call once it was made. "That's going to change the mechanics of how you turn a double play. A lot of guys are really adept at closing their glove and flipping it to their bare hand for a quick transfer. If there's a bobble on that, it's going to be called safe."
Disagree. What happened with Romine was not "a bobble." He muffed it from the start, never had it. Scioscia might not realize this because he's in the dugout most of the time, but it's still possible to tell from video replay when a player drops a ball while making a transfer. If Romine had dropped the ball while making a transfer, replay would have revealed it and he would have gotten credit for the out.
Infielders, don't you change a thing. Just remember: you still have to catch the ball.
Here's the play one more time from start to finish:
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