MLB needs to rethink how it handles video review at home plate

Seattle Mariners center fielder Guillermo Heredia fouled a ball off his left foot in the fifth inning Tuesday night and was thrown out at first base, which again illustrated a big hole in baseball’s video replay protocol.

The video replay seemed to show that the call should have been reversed, but no one looked at it because foul/fair calls in front of home plate are not reviewable.

Never mind that Heredia was hopping up and down because he just got his toe smashed. Never mind that Mariners manager Scott Servais came out to argue and almost certainly had a better view of the play than any of the umpires.

All the umpires could do was hold a quick conference and decide to uphold Gary Cederstrom’s out call at first base after third baseman Tim Beckham fielded the ball and had all day to throw it to first.

This is not a criticism of the umpiring crew. It’s a criticism of a system that assumes the corner umpires who set up about 110 feet down each base line and the home plate umpire whose view is obstructed by the catcher or the hitter can see the ball in that kind of situation more clearly than multiple TV cameras.

MLB Replay Rule V(C) states that fair/foul calls that happen in front of the base umpires cannot be reviewed, which makes sense if the ball is hit cleanly and there is a question about whether it rolls fair or foul. It doesn’t make sense on a ball that bounces straight down near home plate and either hits the batter or doesn’t.

It also defies logic because replay is allowed on pitches that might or might not have hit a batter. That’s almost a distinction without a difference, other than the fact that the home plate umpire is likely to get a clearer look at most HBP situations.

Go figure.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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