Saturday, December 1, 2012

Instant Replay Series: Yankees Robbed!

For many years, the Yankees have been the beneficiaries of many poor and controversial calls.  I'm sure it started back before the Babe was calling his shots, but we didn’t have high-def instant replay or twitter, so not as many of us were up in arms about it.  But just in the expanded post-season era there have been several examples of calls that were made that almost seemed like there was a memo from the top to ensure the Yankees got whatever breaks they needed to win the World Series.  This started in the 1996 ALCS when in the 8th inning of Game 1, Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the right field fence at Yankee Stadium to prevent Tony Tarasco from making a routine catch on a deep fly ball.  Instead of being ruled spectator interference, the Umpiring crew ruled it a game tying home run. Yankees went on to win that game, the ALCS and their first World Series since 1978.

In 1999 in the ALCS against the Red Sox, the Yankees were again helped when a phantom tag helped Chuck Knoblauch turn a double play in the 8th inning of a 1 run Game 4.  Instead of the Series being tied at 2 games New York took a commanding 3-1 lead, and again went on to win the World Series - their third of four in a five year span.

In 2009, they got help in both the ALDS and ALCS to ensure they made it to the World Series. In Game 2 of the ALDS, in the 11th inning Joe Mauer hit a ball down the left field line that looked to be clearly fair.  Amazingly the Umpire who made the call had a perfect view and was only a few steps away as can be seen here.  Instead of the Twins tying up the Series at 1 game apiece, the Yankees went on to win and sweep the Series.  Then in the ALCS against the Angels, in Game 4 Mike Napoli clearly tags both Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada as they were both off 3rd base, but only one runner was called out.  And of course, you know how this turns out, with them finally able to win their only championship of this century.

After all these breaks going their way, this year's ALCS saw some calls going against them which may have robbed them of a chance to return to the World Series.

In the 2nd inning of Game 1 they had the bases loaded with 2 outs when Robinson Cano hit a line drive that ricocheted off pitcher Doug Fister, to shortstop Jhonny Peralta who threw to 1st base almost in time to get Cano, as the first run of the game crossed the plate.  But, unfortunately for Yankee fans,  Cano was called out at 1st, and the game remained scoreless.
Here's the video.  They ended up losing the game, and Derek Jeter was lost for the postseason with an injury he suffered in extra innings.

How would my proposal for instant replay have changed this?  According to the framework I layed out, this call would be reviewable and judging from the available video, would have likely been reversed.  The Yankees would have taken the lead, and could have won the game in 9 innings, and not suffered the loss of their Captain.

The very next day, the Yankees were again on the short end of a blown call.  The Tigers were clinging to a one run lead with 2 outs in the 8th inning with Omar Infante on 1st base, when Austin Jackson singled to right  field.  Infante rounded 2nd a bit too eagerly, and got tagged out trying to scramble back to the base for the last out of the inning.  But the Umpire ruled him safe, and the Tigers kept batting.
See for yourself above as they added 2 more runs in the frame and Joe Girardi gets ejected.  The Tigers went on to win 3-0 and took a commanding 2-0 ALCS lead on the road.
Again, my proposal for instant replay could have helped here.  This play would be reviewable, no need for Girardi to even come out to argue. Infante would have been ruled out, inning over, and the Yankees may have come back to win.
Who knows, different ruling on these two plays may have been enough to turn the tide and have the Yankees defeat the Tigers and get back to the World Series.

Maybe after all these years of getting some breaks, this was Karma, but I'd rather the correct call get made, either initially or at least after review.

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