Rooting for instant replay in World Series
New York City-based Yankees super-fan, and espnW contributor, Amanda Rykoff shares her thoughts on the World Series. Today she provides her thoughts on how instant replay could have impacted last night's 3-2 Cardinals win over the Texas Rangers.
No Yankees. No Phillies. No Red Sox. We have Texas and St. Louis in a World Series without a real storyline. There are no bad guys. No big bad bullies. Say what you will about the Yankees -- and I've heard it all -- but they are good for the baseball business. People watch and people pay attention -- even if just to root against them.
Heading into Wednesday's Game 1 in St. Louis (a wild-card team with home-field advantage? Please don't get me started.), even the Red Sox beer and fried chicken news continued to dominate headlines on the day of the World Series opener. I desperately searched for a hook for the teams on the field. A reason to care. A reason to root for someone. I honestly couldn't find one.
The St. Louis faithful argued the Cardinals are "the Yankees of the National League" with the second-most World Series titles. Texas fans attempted to woo me with tales of the hitting prowess of Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz. I wasn't convinced.
With Game 1 in the books, maybe now we have the hook: a reason to root for the Rangers. They got jobbed on a bad call in the top of the ninth. And I'm annoyed. I wouldn't say I'm angry. But I am annoyed. We have the technology to make the right call. Why won't Major League Baseball use it?
If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's what happened: With one out in the top of the ninth, Adrian Beltre appeared to foul a ball off his shoe before it arrived at third base. Beltre immediately jumped up and down in apparent pain, shaking off what appeared to be a foul ball to everybody watching at the park, at home and even in the broadcast booth. But plate umpire Jerry Layne ruled it fair and Beltre was out. Beltre and manager Ron Washington argued, but their protests fell on deaf ears.
Twitter lit up like a switchboard as everybody watching (yes, it appeared that people were watching) called for robot umpires or, at the very least, instant replay. Beltre responded too quickly for it to be fake. He didn't run to first, which is what he would have done had he thought the ball was fair. Fox's new infrared replay camera showed clear evidence the ball bounced off Beltre's foot. Even without the assistance of instant replay, the umpires should have called it foul. But they did not. Before anybody could blink an eye, the Rangers found themselves down to their final out and I found myself feeling something for one of the teams.
Would this at-bat have made the difference in the game? Nobody can say. Beltre might have grounded out to third base on the very next pitch. Or he could have singled. Or he could have been hit by a pitch. We will never know. We never got the chance to know. The fact remains that the Rangers got robbed of an out. In the top of the ninth. In the World Series. This should not happen. It could have been rectified with the use of instant replay.
Am I trying to convince myself of a reason to root for someone with my team out of the playoffs and no real narrative? Maybe. But as a baseball fan, I expect and hope to see competent umpiring in the World Series. People say the human element is one of the so-called charms of the great game of baseball. Not every call is going to be right. I get that. But we have the technology. Let's use it to make sure it is right. Especially in Game 1 of the World Series. Is that too much to ask?