BOSTON – Umpire Jerry Meals would like a mulligan. John Farrell would like a chance to give it to him.
Meals admitted after Monday’s Red Sox-Rays game that he made the wrong call on a play at the plate in the eighth inning of what was eventually a 2-1 win for Tampa Bay. Farrell said Tuesday that he appreciates Meals’ accountability, although it’s clear that the Red Sox manager would have enjoyed expanded video replay in that particular situation.
“I appreciate him stating what transpired afterward,” Farrell said Tuesday. “It’s the human element inside the game and given that over the last couple of years umpires have become more exposed to questioning after the game, I appreciate him saying what he did. It doesn’t change the outcome obviously, and maybe it furthers the debate on including more video replay.”
The debate over whether or not Major League Baseball should implement more video replay has been going on for a while, and it’s not going anywhere, mainly because blown calls like Monday’s can have such a profound impact.
Daniel Nava, who represented the tying run, was thrown out at the plate to end the eighth inning despite clearly sliding under catcher Jose Molina’s tag. There’s no telling what would have happened after that point if Meals made the right call, but there’s a chance that the Red Sox could have emerged victorious and extended their AL East lead to 1 1/2 games rather than enter Tuesday’s contest facing a half-game deficit.
Farrell admitted Tuesday that the Red Sox could have avoided Monday’s situation altogether if Nava scored from second base – like he should have – on Stephen Drew’s double the at-bat before Meals’ missed call. But Farrell also thinks that expanded replay could have helped avoid the situation and the subsequent fall-out.
“I’ve always felt that the advances in technology, how it’s come into the game, there’s no reason to think that it can’t be used to a greater extent without prolonging the time of the game, particularly on plays that are not continuing plays,” Farrell said. “That’s a definitive play. It’s either ‘out’ or ‘safe.’ There’s really no other continuance, [unlike] in a play such as a catch in the gap with multiple men on and less than two outs — that type of play. In cases like last night, I think it furthers the debate.”
There are a lot of factors involved in the MLB replay debate. Baseball traditionalists like the human element, and replays could, as Farrell mentioned, prolong already lengthy games. But there’s also something to be said for getting calls right, which is what Farrell thinks should ultimately trump everything else.
“I know [expanded video replay is] an ongoing conversation with the commissioner’s office and all those who are on the field committee,” Farrell said. “How it’s ultimately implemented, that’s the biggest challenge I think in all of this. And I know that there’s a lot of sensitivity towards the overall time of game and not to slow things down. But in situations like last, I think the most important thing and the overriding thing is just to make sure that plays are called as they should be.”
Farrell was asked Tuesday if he’d accept a replay system that involves being able to challenge one safe/out call per game, and he said that he’d “definitely” vote in favor of it.
Meals might want a mulligan for Monday’s mishap, and Farrell might want to give it to him. But until we start seeing actual rule changes, the scoreboard – and in this case, the standings – is going to remain as is in such situations.