Who knew the infamous Pine Tar Game would one day be suggested as a precedent?
By PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote Thursday that baseball should correct an egregious error by the umpires at the A’s-Indians game on Wednesday night by looking to its 1983 decision overturning an on-field ruling that nullified a George Brett home run.
In the ninth inning on Wednesday, Oakland’s Adam Rosales hit a ball that hit a railing behind the left-field wall but was ruled a double. The umpires checked the video and said there was insufficient evidence to overturn the call, although everyone else who saw the same replay thought it was a home run.
Instead of tying the game 4-4, Rosales was stranded on the base paths, and Cleveland won 4-3. Olney and others across the country thought this injustice could be corrected by overturning the umpire’s decision and restarting the game, just like the Pine Tar Game.
However, Major League Baseball executive vice president for baseball operations Joe Torre declined to follow that example.
“By rule, the decision to reverse a call by use of instant replay is at the sole discretion of the crew chief,” Torre said in news release. “In the opinion of Angel Hernandez, who was last night’s crew chief, there was not clear and convincing evidence to overturn the decision on the field. It was a judgment call, and as such, it stands as final.
“Home and away broadcast feeds are available for all uses of instant replay, and they were available to the crew last night. Given what we saw, we recognize that an improper call was made. Perfection is an impossible standard in any endeavor, but our goal is always to get the calls right. Earlier this morning, we began the process of speaking with the crew to thoroughly review all the circumstances surrounding last night’s decision.”
“The Athletics are in Cleveland and will play the Indians in a noon game (Thursday), and what needs to happen is for the Commissioner to use his powers and overturn the call of Angel Hernandez’s crew, and replay it from the point of the disputed home run,” Olney wrote on his blog. “The score would be 4-4, it would be the ninth inning. Then, after the resolution of that game, the two teams can play the regularly scheduled game.”
Olney cited the Royals-Yankees game in July 1983, when Brett homered in the ninth at Yankee Stadium to give Kansas City the lead. Yankees manager Billy Martin challenged, saying the bat had too much pine tar. The umpires agreed and called Brett out, which sent him into a fury that made for one of the world’s first viral videos.
However, American League president Lee McPhail later overruled the umpires, and the game was resumed a month later. The Royals won.
| Pete Grathoff, firstname.lastname@example.org