It only took a week for Major League Baseball to use instant replay to gift the New York Yankees a win. (Hey, when the laws of probability suggest you have a 0.9 percent chance of making it to the postseason, a little help doesn’t hurt. Plus, who doesn’t want to see the Yanks in the playoffs? Exactly.)
Shockingly, the play in question involved Alex Rodriguez, who hit what appeared to be a home run down the left field line until the catwalk at Tropicana Field got in the way (one more reason the Rays need a new stadium: the current one features such charming elements as a catwalk). Cue the controversy:
Rodriguez hit the towering fly ball off Troy Percival and waited in the batter’s box until third-base umpire Brian Runge called it a fair ball. That sparked catcher Dioner Navarro to literally jump in and adamantly argue that it was foul. Manager Joe Maddon asked for clarification from home-plate umpire Greg Gibson, then Runge.
“I said, ‘Here we go,’ ” Rodriguez said.
Crew chief Charlie Reliford met with his crew on the field and said they were unanimous that it was a home run, that “all four of us had it going right over the pole on the field.” But Reliford said that since Maddon argued, and the technology was in place, they went to the tape.
Reliford headed to a designated room behind the Yankees dugout, where he watched “several” replays on a 19-inch Sharp flat-screen TV. To reverse a call, the crew chief has to decide there is “clear and convincing” evidence.
Two minutes and 15 seconds later, the call was upheld, A-Rod was vindicated, the Yankees were on their way to victory, the Rays’ inevitable collapse continued (slight exaggeration), and order had been restored to the universe.
Tampa Bay has now dropped back-to-back games and lead Boston by just three. The Yanks are 10 games out of first and seven out of the wild card, which means that it’s going to take a lot of instant replay to get them to the playoffs.
In unrelated news, Clint Hurdle still hates the Dodgers.