During his pregame press conferences, Orioles manager Buck Showalter often shares his random baseball thought of the day about how something in the game could be changed or improved.
Many times this year, it’s been the same concept, but prompted by different circumstances. Showalter simply doesn’t know how, when a call gets sent to the Replay Operations Center in New York for a review, it doesn’t always come back correctly.
And that doesn't necessarily mean in the Orioles’ favor. Showalter is OK if a call goes against his club if it is the right one.
But on plenty of occasions this year, replays have clearly shown one thing, only for the review team in New York to rule another. Oftentimes, the reviewers have hidden behind the explanation that there is not enough empirical evidence to overturn the original call.
Last night was an egregious example of how the system fails. And the Orioles benefited from it. In the fifth inning, Delmon Young hit a deep fly ball to left field that Minnesota Twins outfielder Jordan Schafer chased down. The ball deflected off his glove as he leaped into the wall, and a fan, reaching over the fence, snagged it. The fan’s glove and wrist were clearly over the wall. It was obvious interference.
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Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire complained, rightfully so, prompting a crew-chief review. After 1 minute, 54 seconds, the call was upheld.
Showalter said after the game that he didn’t get an explanation. And he didn’t ask for one. He answered a question about it diplomatically in his postgame press conference. But you could tell from his answer that he knew the Orioles had caught a break. “I'm not quite sure how they saw it, but I liked the endgame on that,” Showalter said.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was less than diplomatic. He was ticked, and likely will be fined for his comments.
“I challenged it. I did my thing. Somewhere here between here and New York, something got lost,” Gardenhire said. “Somebody up there in New York, I don’t think they were supposed to be in the building. And they called that a home run. The person that obviously looked at that film shouldn’t have been working there, because that’s a joke. That’s embarrassing. The system didn’t work tonight, because the guy reached over the fence, caught the ball over the fence.”
Gardenhire said he complained to home plate umpire Mike Winters after the call was upheld, which could have resulted in an immediate ejection. But Winters let Gardy go on.
“Mike Winters actually went above and beyond, because he let me say my piece, and he didn't have to do that,” Gardenhire said. “I told him how disappointing it is for that to happen, and he said, ‘I'm not even supposed to be talking with you in this situation. I'm giving you a little slack here.’ He understood totally. The crew here did what they were supposed to do here.”
You can call this payback for Jeffrey Maier. But, frankly, we are way beyond that now (in the sense of the game, anyway). Replay is here. It should be used correctly. It’s not.
Or, as Gardenhire put it while channeling his best Showalter: “That can’t happen at this level. It’s not supposed to happen. We’re supposed to get it right. I agree with Buck Showalter.”