Instant Replay comes to baseball. Here’s how it will work.
The Yankees jumped out to an early lead on Edwin Jackson and the Rays last night. After four innings, the score stood at 6-3 Yankees, but the next four frames went by without another tally. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Bobby Abreu worked Troy Percival for a 12-pitch walk, fouling of six full-count offerings before taking ball four. Abreu then stole second on Percival’s 0-2 pitch to Alex Rodriguez, which was a ball. Rodriguez fouled off the 1-2 pitch, took ball two, then crushed a pitch down the left-field line that sailed over the foul pole.
The ball was ruled a home run, but Rays catcher Dioner Navarro animatedly disagreed, and his manager, Joe Maddon, convinced the umpires to use instant replay for the first time in major league history. Three of the four umpires, including crew chief Charlie Reliford retreated through the visitor’s dugout to the replay area and emerged two minutes and 15 seconds later to uphold their call. Reliford emerged first from the dugout and twirled his left index finger over his head to affirm third-base umpire Brian Runge’s original call on the field.
Watching the replays shown on YES, the ball appeared to sail over the left-field foul pole, then hook foul behind hit, clanging off a catwalk near the back wall of the stadium. Still, there remained some confusion due to the fact that there was a yellow foul pole extension attached to that catwalk, despite the fact that it was set significantly back beyond the outfield wall. The ball clearly hit the catwalk to the left (foul) of that yellow indicator, but only after sailing over the actual foul pole when leaving the field of play, which is exactly how all four umpires saw it both live and in the replays.
Said Reliford after the game, “We all believed it was a home run, but since the technology is in place we made the decision to use the technology and go look at the replays. . . . If there had been no argument, obviously we wouldn’t have because all four of us believed the call was correct on the field. Because [Maddon] disputed it, and it was very close, and now the technology is in place, we used it.”
Rodriguez’s double-checked homer gave the Yankees an 8-3 lead, bounced Percival from the game, and pushed Rodriguez past Mike Schmidt on the career home runs list. The Rays picked up run in the bottom of the inning off Jose Veras to set the final score at 8-4 Yanks.