The Baltimore Orioles almost lost last night. Granted that almost happened several different times in their 10-8 16-inning victory in Anaheim. But at one point it really appeared that the game was over. But instant replay stepped in.
Anaheim loaded the bases in the last of the 15th with the O’s leading by two. Mike Trout smacked what could have been a bases-clearing double, which would have been a walk off. However the trail runner (from first base) was gunned down at home plate. Dwight Smith dug the ball out of the left field corner, threw it to Jonathan Villar, who relayed it home. Pedro Severino tagged the runner out in a bang-bang play at the plate, and we played on.
However Anaheim challenged the play, saying that the runner was safe. The umpiring crew looked at it for a long time, and manager Brandon Hyde admitted later that he was just holding out hope that they would uphold the call on the field:
The only thing, because they called him out, I was hoping that it would stand. I had no idea.Quote courtesy of Joe Trezza, mlb.com
Here’s the thing…the umpires in theory got the call wrong. In Theory. The ball didn’t beat the runner to the bag. Severino tagged the runner high, which was the correct thing to do. However the runner appeared to drag his hand across home plate at the exact same moment. And while not an official rule, a tie is supposed to go to the runner.
So should there be an asterisk by this win because of that? Is it tainted? Not really. Because – get this – the umpires were 100% correct in upholding the call on the field. The rule is that in order to overturn a call, there needs to be clear and concise evidence that the call on the field was INCORRECT. But it was a tie – I just said that there was clear and concise evidence that it was a tie, right?
Yes, but notice what I also said above: …while not an official rule, a tie is supposed to go to the runner. Is there clear and concise evidence that there’s a tie? Yes. But is that in and of itself clear and concise evidence that the call itself was incorrect? No.
There’s nothing in the MLB rule book which addresses a tie. You’re either out or safe. Now that’s a rule of thumb that’s been adapted over the years (a tie going to the runner), but as I said above it isn’t an official rule. So by the standards set forth in instant replay, there is evidence of a tie, or evidence of the play being nebulous. But a tie isn’t clear and concise evidence that the call should be reversed. Thus the umpire correctly upheld the call.
Could or should the umpire have called the runner safe from the outself? Maybe, maybe not. If we’re going by tie goes to the runner, then the runner probably should have been called safe. But it was a bang-bang play, and as quickly as the game moves one can understand how the guy made the call that he did. However upholding the call on review was the right thing to do. Because while it’s fashionable to say and believe, a tie doesn’t go to the runner given that in accordance with the MLB rule book there’s no such thing as a tie.