With umpire Phil Cuzzi squating to get a clear view, Joe Mauer's 11th inning hit is called foul after
hitting Melkey Cabera's glove in fair territory, and as seen in this shot, landing approx. a foot in
fair territory afterwards.
Being an umpire in Major League Baseball isn’t easy, but there was certainly an easy call to make last night, and it was blown.
In the 11th inning, Joe Mauer of the Twins laced a ball far down the third baseline, where a running Melky Cabrera reached out and had the ball go off the tip of his glove. Both the ball hitting Cabrera’s glove and where it landed afterwards were in fair territory. And yet, in clear view of umpire Phil Cuzzi, it was called foul, robbing Mauer of at least a single, and most likely, a double. Mauer eventually got a single, and the Twins loaded the bases, only to have the Yankees get out of the jam. The next half inning, Mark Teixeira belted a walk-off homer to give the Yankees a 4-3 win, and more importantly a 2-0 lead in Division Series play.
Cuzzi’s gaff wasn’t a miss by inches. It was clearly seen as a blown call at the outset and amplified to mind numbing proportions in replays by TBS. It was enough to cause moans on blogs, and on Twitter, the social networking site.
One such tweet was from Joe Browne, the executive VP of communications for the NFL. “I admit I am watching Yanks-Twins and thinking how good our officiating really is,” Browne wrote.
It’s debatable, but one could say that Browne’s statement is not true. What the NFL has is heavy use of instant replay, which saves many a referee from being a blown call story, instead of play on the field. And, it’s not just the NFL. The National Basketball Association this past week expanded the use of instant replay. One part of the expanded rules will be used to determine during the last two minutes of regulation play and the last two minutes of any overtime period which player last touched the ball prior to it going out-of-bounds or whether the ball was last touched simultaneously by two opponents.
Cuzzi’s blown call outlines the need for MLB to expand its use of instant replay for line calls – those balls that are on the edge of being fair or foul. MLB already uses boundary calls for homeruns, so the move to line calls isn’t earth shattering. Commissioner Selig, you need to make it happen.
What the NFL and the NBA have understood is that getting the call right is more important than having the outcome of a game changed due to human error. Cuzzi’s blown call seems to be case that should push MLB into action. If ever instant replay was needed in Major League Baseball, it was most likely, last night.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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