Friday, November 9, 2012

Instant Replay Series: Check Swing

My next installment on how my proposal for implementing instant replay could have impacted the postseason focuses on the deciding Game 5 of the NLDS series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals.

The Nats had jumped to an early six run lead, but the Cardinals kept chipping away at it. By the 9th inning, they had cut the deficit to 7-5.  But after a leadoff double, they had two quick outs and it did not look they would have another miracle comeback like in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.  But a walk put the tying run on base and the Redbirds faithful still had some hope.  With a 1-2 count on David Freese, Drew Storen threw a slider just off the plate.  Freese started to offer at it and then held up.  Or did he?
Nats catcher Kurt Suzuki quickly asked for an appeal on the check swing, and Umpire Ed Hickox gave the "safe - no, he did not go around" sign. Freese stayed alive to work a walk to load the bases, the next batter Daniel Descalso singled to tie up the game, and the Cardinals went on to win the game and the series.

How could my proposal for instant replay have affected this outcome.  Well, it couldn't! If you re-read my principles of implementing replay, you will see that I don't think strike/ball calls should be reviewable - that includes check swings.  So, even if this form of replay was in place this year, it would not have helped the Nationals win their first ever post-season series.  Keep this in mind for if/when replay is instituted - however it is implemented, it will not be perfect, and I guarantee people will still complain that their team got robbed because of the calls.

What is interesting about this play, is how little media fanfare it had. I did not hear anyone complain about the call or say the Umpiring cost the Nationals the series. If you've been reading this blog, you know I am a strong believer that officials never cost a team a win, no matter how bad of a call they make.  And I think this applies in this game too.  Sure, even if Freese had swung and the bad call kept the rally alive the Nationals still had plenty of opportunities to get the last out before losing the lead.  Not to mention the fact that they could have also scored more runs of their own earlier and not put themselves in a situation where all of a sudden they were facing the go ahead run at the plate.

1 comment:

  1. I googled this checked swing because, yes, I too thought this was a bad call and would have ended the game. By rule a checked swing or half swing is a strike if the batter attempts to swing or offer at the ball.

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