Replay continuing to draw headlines for the wrong reasons

The Baltimore Sun

BOSTON – During every game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has a card with him that tells him which plays are reviewable and which ones aren't. The color coding is simple. The plays in green can be reviewable, the plays in red cannot.

But it's not always that easy, and that was the case in the Orioles' 6-5 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday night.

After the Red Sox scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, Showalter wanted the umpires to review whether Dustin Pedroia tagged up at third base before running to the plate on an errant throw home.

After the seventh inning, all reviews are up to the discretion of the umpiring crew. A manager can request a review, which Showalter did, but he said he was told you cannot review a tag play.

“Go figure,” he said. “They’ve got some really strange rules. That will change, too, going forward.”

According to the MLB replay rules, calls regarding whether a base runner left early on a tag up cannot be reviewed. 

In this case, Pedroia was shuffling between third base and home plate when Mike Carp hit a line drive to left field. The question wasn’t whether Pedroia left third base early. It was whether he went back to third base at all to tag up. And according to the replay rules, whether a base runner acquires a base is reviewable. 

The main camera replay of the play pans away from third base right when David Lough catches Carp’s liner, so you can’t tell from there. Pedroia does break home and retreats when the throw comes to the plate but immediately breaks for home when it goes wide and to the backstop.

The call may have been right on the field, but the confusion over whether the play can be reviewed doesn't help.

It should be pointed out that the Orioles had a review go their way when a double near the top of the high left field wall was confirmed by video review in the bottom of the ninth.

That play was close, as the ball appeared to deflect off a fan reaching over the edge of the Green Monster. But more than anything, I would think the umpires weren't going to allow an overturned call to end a game. That's a smart move. And the same premise bit the Orioles later in the inning on Showalter's tag-up argument.

At least it appears that Major League Baseball will do something about the notorious transfer rule, which forces defenders to transfer the ball from the glove hand to the throwing hand cleanly before officially being granted an out.

In Boston’s two-run seventh inning, shortstop Ryan Flaherty took a throw at second from pitcher Zach Britton. He clearly had possession of the ball but dropped it on the exchange and the runner at second, Brock Holt, was called safe.

From there, the Red Sox scored two unearned runs to tie the game.

Seeing how that play has been treated all year, Showalter said it would have been a waste of time to challenge the call.

“That hasn’t been overturned all year,” Showalter said. “I’ve got a young pitcher out there, a cold pitcher, it’s 40 degrees. They would look at it for about thirty seconds, that’s the good news. They haven’t overturned one of those all year. Wasn’t even worth challenging. Maybe in two weeks it will be, which is what I’m hearing."

Starting shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was forced from the game in the seventh with a strained right hamstring, called the rule "stupid."

“I was in here getting treatment,” Hardy said. “I saw Flaherty catch the ball. Replays showed it. I'm sure you guys all saw it. It's a rule which is going to get changed. Someone told me that at the beginning of the series, that they're getting ready to change it. Right now, I think it's a stupid rule."

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