San Francisco Giants: Surprise, Surprise, Replay Got Another One Wrong

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 28: Brandon Crawford
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 28: Brandon Crawford /

San Francisco Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford was robbed of a home run on Thursday because MLB’s replay system got another one wrong.

MLB’s replay system hasn’t been all that great, has it? The current system, put in place ahead of the 2014 season, is supposed to allow for managers to challenge certain plays to ensure that the correct call was made. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. Being a major league umpire on the field is not an easy job, and sometimes a bang-bang play gets called the wrong way. If guy just barely beats the ball to first base but is called out, or vice versa, replay ensures that the correct call gets made.

But on Thursday night, in the late night contest between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, replay got one wrong. Man oh man, did they get one wrong. It wasn’t one of those bang-bang plays, either.

In the ninth inning, after 1 AM on the east coast (the replays offices are in New York), Brandon Crawford followed a Buster Posey double with a drive down the right field line. The ball carried well, and was on a direct path with the fair-foul pole. It drifted up and over the wall, into the glove of a fan who reached out and made a pretty spectacular grab on top of the green aluminum space on top of the wall. When he made the catch, his glove was right on top of the yellow-painted fair/foul line.

It was called a home run on the field, which was the correct call. The AT&T Park ground rules clearly states that if a fair ball lands on the “green metal on top of [the] right field wall”, it’s a home run. If the fan didn’t make the catch, it would have hit that green metal without a doubt. For the fan to reach over and make a catch in front of the right field wall, he would have to rival Manute Bol in height. There’s absolutely no way that ball would have hit anything but the green surface on top of the wall.

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Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called for a replay, and at that point, there was no reason not to. It’s the ninth inning, it wouldn’t have cost him a challenge, and it might take a run or two off the board. Basically, it was a “smoke ’em if you got ’em” scenario.

That’s where the actual replay comes in. The guys in New York needed four minutes to look at that every angle of that replay and “definitively determine” (as Mike Krukow announced in the booth) that the fan reached over the wall and brought that home run over the fence.

Everyone knew that was the wrong call. Krukow, as well as his broadcast partner for the night, Jon Miller, dragged the replay officials through the mud, stating that the must not know the ground rules at AT&T Park. Crawford, who had to settle for a double because of someone else’s ineptitude, was none too pleased with the ruling, either.

After the game, Crawford told reporters that “every single person at the park knew that was a homer” before going on to say that “it’s about making the right call, and the right call wasn’t made”. You got that right, Brandon. They didn’t get the call right.

Those umpires keep saying that they know the ground rules of the park, but that can’t be true. If they did, there are only two calls they could have made: it was a home run (because, you know, it was) or it was a foul ball. That’s it. Those are the only two calls they could have made. The ball was clearly over the wall.

We’re four years into this replay thing, and it just doesn’t seem to be getting better. Earlier in the game, there was another replay called for by Matheny. Posey hit a slow groundball to third base, and Matt Carpenter made a nice play to barehand it and make a throw over to first. First base umpire Tom Woodring called Posey safe, but the replay showed that Posey wasn’t safe. The ball beat him by a fraction of a step, and he should have been called out.

That’s one of those bang-bang plays that you can’t really blame on the umpire on the field. He did his best to make the right call, and on such a close play, sometimes the official gets it wrong. That’s okay, because there’s replay to get it right. Except when replay doesn’t get it right, which happened twice on Thursday.

The Giants didn’t lose this game because of that call. They lost because they can’t seem to get that big hit to get the offense rolling. That’s been a running theme of the season, and it continued on Thursday. They did get a big hit on Thursday, and it was Crawford’s in the ninth. He still hit a double, but who knows what would have happened after the home run. It’s a two-run game with no one out in the ninth, and the Giants suddenly have a little momentum. Of course, probably nothing happens from there on and Giants’ fans head home after taking in another loss, the team’s 83rd on the season.

Those fans would have at least gone home after seeing Crawford make it interesting. They would have gotten to see his 13th home run of the season, putting him second on the team and continuing a torrid pace he’s been on for a couple weeks.

Instead, they get to go home angry because MLB can’t get replay right. Everyone that took part in the game on Thursday, the fans, the players, the coaching staffs, and even the umpires on the field, were insulted because MLB so egregiously butchered this call.

Next: Give Another Castoff Reliever A Chance

Replay in baseball is supposed to be about getting the call right. The words don’t match the outcomes, though, do they?