Thursday, August 19, 2010

MLB Does Change Calls After the Fact


A couple of months ago, Armando Galarraga lost a perfect game on a blown call by Jim Joyce. Fans and media debated the increased use of instant replay while baseball stood its ground, declaring that the human element is part of the game. Turns out this is not entirely true.

If umpires blow a call, tough luck to those who were on the wrong side of the decision. But if an official scorer makes a mistake, well, then we can go ahead and change that. Two weeks later if need be. I'm referring to an article on MLB.com that explains that Ichiro had a hit taken away after MLB reviewed the scoring decision.

The game took place on August 8th with Kansas City visiting Seattle. In the bottom of the 8th, Ichiro chopped one to short that Mike Aviles fielded cleanly but then threw wildly into the stands, giving Ichiro second base. The original call was an infield hit and a throwing error, but MLB changed this to be a 2-base throwing error instead, so Ichiro has one less hit now. It shouldn't make much difference in the long run, but as he has been struggling (for him) lately, it's no lock that he'll reach 200 hits. I imagine this story will get more play should he finish with 199.

To be fair, the official scorer did seem to have a hometown bias (check the video in the link above) and was rather generous in giving Ichiro the hit. But I don't understand why the Royals formally complained; the error made no difference to the statistics of any of their players as the run was unearned regardless. Interestingly, the boxscore has yet to be updated - Ichiro's stats are correct as he did get one hit in the game, but the linescore still shows 8 hits for the Mariners.

Ultimately though, this story illustrates baseball's hypocrisy. If the human element is part of the game, then it should be that way for everybody. But if only official scorers are subject to second-guessing, then why not use replay as well? Of course, double standards are nothing new to the powers that run baseball. I'll stop complaining now so we can all sit back and enjoy watching the Yankees and their $200 million payroll fight their way to another playoff spot.

Best,

Sean

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