October 8th, 2010
10:31 AM ET

Stolen base, stolen chance: Why instant replay is a must


Buster Posey slides into home to give the Giants a 1-0 lead -- which might not have happened if baseball had instant replay.


The San Francisco Giants Buster Posey steals second base in the fourth inning of Thursday night’s National League Division Series playoff against the Atlanta Braves.

Two batters later, Posey slides safely into home on a single by Cody Ross, providing the deciding run in the Giants 1-0 win.

Glory to Posey, right? The rookie’s first-career stolen base puts him in position to score the winning in Game 1 of the playoffs.

Wrong! Posey was out at second. Television replays showed that second base umpire Paul Emmel missed the call.

MLB.com: Watch the questionable stolen base call

Even Posey knew it. "I guess it's a good thing we don't have instant replay right now,” he said after the game.

Emmel’s blown call is just the latest in a litany of game-changing officiating errors in pro sports in 2010 – errors that could be corrected if the powers that be realize what century we’re in and use instant replay.

Emmel’s call cost the Braves the game, or at least a chance to get away from Tim Lincecum and a shot at the Giants bullpen in extra innings.

Justice prevailed earlier in the baseball playoffs, but just barely.

In the ninth inning Wednesday night in Minnesota, New York Yankees outfielder Greg Golson trapped a sinking line drive from the Twins’ Delmon Young. At least that’s how right-field umpire Chris Guccione saw it. Instant replay showed it differently – a clear catch by Golson.

With Young on base, the tying run in a 6-4 game came to the plate in the person of slugger Jim Thome. Luckily for the Yankees – and the integrity of the game – Thome, who had 25 homers this season, popped out to the end game.

Other bad calls have cropped up in the baseball playoffs but none so blatant as the one that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game in June.

Instant replay showed the ball clearly beats the Cleveland Indians Luke Donald to first base to seal baseball immortality for Galarraga – only 20 perfect games have ever been thrown.

First base umpire Jim Joyce thought he made the right call. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay,” Joyce said after the game.

Joyce or Guccione or Emmel shouldn’t have been put in these positions. Baseball has the technology. Why not make it right?

Of course, America’s pastime isn’t alone in its rejection of modern technology. Just ask Frank Lampard and England’s national soccer team.


Frank Lampard's shot his the crossbar and on replay showed it well past the goal line.


The midfielder’s clear goal against Germany – replay showed it well past the goal line – wasn’t allowed, denying England what could have been a momentum-swinging tying goal just before halftime and maybe a chance to stop their German arch-rivals. Germany eventually won that one 4-1.

Hey baseball and soccer, why not take a lesson from the National Football League, where replay rules? And gets it right. Maybe.

Ask the Detroit Lions. Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson appeared to catch a game-winning touchdown pass with seconds left in a game against the Chicago Bears in September. The official on the field initially called it a touchdown. But after an on-field and replay review, the officials concluded that Johnson did not control the ball through the end of the play, the TD was disallowed and the Lions lost.

That one made no sense to me, but at least it did to Lions’ coach Jim Schwartz. "The rule is if you are going to the ground in the process of making the catch, you need to finish with the football. And we didn't finish with the football," he said.

Can’t argue with the coach, I guess. Watch and learn, baseball.

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soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. England was owned!

    Did you watch the England v Germany game before you wrote this? England was taken apart in that game. Yes, the goal deserved to be counted but unlike this game, that goal would not have affected the outcome. Germany dismantled England from start to finish.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    Second base umpires consistently miss that call because they're out of position to see the tag. I've never understood why they move to the infield grass when a runner's on first. Besides getting bad angles on plays at second, they often obstruct the second baseman or shortstop's view of groundballs up the middle. Time to change the training manual.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      What position would you have them take? The best angle to make a call on a steal at second depends on too many factors that happen quickly beginning with where the catcher throws the ball and which side of the bag the fielder steps to in response to the direction of the throw. Then the runner responds and adjusts his slide slightly based on the fielder's position. And is he going in feet first or head first? I would say the majority of time umps are in the correct position to see the tag because it usually happens in an angle between home plate and first base. But that's impossible to judge on the fly.

      October 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. shirley shanley

    Yeah, he was out, but there will always be bad calls in baseball. I am sure in the next 4 games (or however many SF plays against Atlanta) there will be a bad call made against the Giants too. It is just too bad that the score was 1-0, because now everyone is going to wonder what the outcome would have been if the ump had gotten the call right.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jesse

    that was so close. i don't even see that it was indisputable.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Clevelander

    It was Jason Donald, not Luke, in the not-so-perfect game

    October 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Daniel

    Although we have the means, it does not mean that the game is better using that technology. Games like football, baseball, cricket, tennis have these stoppages that are natural and inherit during the game. I believe that these sports can benefit from getting using technology to get the call right. Point number two, when you bring in instant replay and modern technology, the referee or umpire loses his ultimate authority regulating the game. You have to agree that everyone loves talking about the officiating the day after; why take that away with perfect officiating? My apologies for this being more of a rant.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sean

    Blown calls sometimes affect the outcome of the game. I think with today's technology Instant replay could be expanded without dragging out the game too long. My proposal would be leave the home run/foul replay policy as is and then give each manager one "replay pass" where they can challenge the decision via replay per game. It would be up to them to decide if and when they use it and it would not add much time to the game.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      ...and then when an important game's outcome is changed due to a bad call after the team has used it's pass, they'll argue each team should get two...then three...

      October 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Umpires need review

    The issue I am more concerned with is the lack of professionalism major league umpires display. A perfect example would be the Giants last regular season game vs. the Padres. Andres Torres hit a line drive down the left field line and the umpire called it a foul ball. The problem is the ball clearly hit the foul line and white chalk blew exploded off the line. The third base umpire was wearing sunglasses! He could not see the white chalk because of his shades. Wear a ball cap and do your job!
    It has been made clear that each umpire has their own style on how they see the strike zone. Some are notorious for squeezing the corners and others have big zones. Why do umpires essentially disagree what on what is a ball or strike? This has always baffled me.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jon

    They have rules for everything else, just make rules for replay...Only allow 2 on the field replay reviews per game per team, that is it whether the call is reversed or stays the same. By making them "on the field" reviews, that eliminates reviewing balls/strikes.

    For everyone saying to keep technology out of it....MLB uses advanced testing technology to check cheaters for HGH and steroids. Why is it OK to use technology to catch people cheating and punish them, but not OK to rectify a blown call? MLB should make the game honest all around, not just with people cheating with drugs. If you truly want to keep baseball exactly the same as it has always been, why not eliminate drug testing then? It is new technology that is used that they didn't have back in the day either, but MLB finally realized it was necessary.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. J

    Why do some people accept mediocrity and incompetence? I don't. I strive for perfection. I know I'll never attain it, but I strive for it and correct my mistakes. Why then are incompetent officiating and mistakes tolerated when we have the technology and means to fix them? Why don't we have the will to fix them? Anyone who says "it's just part of the game" is incredibly lazy and must have very low personal expectations. Come on folks, let's do a little extra work and get it right, not cater to the lowest common denominator of a nation increasingly comprised of lazy morons.

    October 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sam

    Why have officials at all? Let's just put cameras everywhere and monitor them from somewhere else. Or better yet, let the public vote and make all the calls based on the videos. If you want human officials, you get human errors. If you're going to second guess everything, why bother!

    October 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    Bottom line, Replay or not, everyone HAS to admit that umpiring has gotten atrocious these last few years. And the arrogance these umps display is amazing. After watching baseball for 30+ years I can never recall these quick triggers on ejections. Something needs to be done to improve the quality of umpiring. And to the argument that the "human element" has always been part of the game, that's a lame excuse! Cheating has ALWAYS been part of the game since the mid 1800's, so has the "Have's" and the "Have Nots", so I assume you all are "OK" with PED's and salary disparity then? Just asking...
    It's funny how baseball "purists" want to keep the "integrity" of baseball history intact, even though the game has changed immeasurably over the past 50 years anyway, more so than they want to even admit. Blind blind blind.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      I don't know one way or the other that the quality of umpiring has lessoned over the past few years or if its because the technology to see what the human eye can't has gotten that much better. One thing I do know is that umps make the correct call, and hundreds of close ones, the vast majority of the time.

      Baseball certainly has changed much over the past 160 years. That doesn't mean IR is a change for the better.

      October 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maybeben

    I don't have a problem with repay in football. The calls are a lot harder, bad calls are frequent, and with only 16 games in a season, one blown call can change everything. Baseball is a different story. Blown calls are VERY rare, unlike football, and they have always been part of the game and have hardly ever had a significant impact on anything but individual records. Besides – I'm sorry – it's baseball. Replay just doesn't belong.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      WHAT!!!??? Do you even watch baseball games??!! There are literally hundreds of blown calls a year!! My God bro, really, do you watch many FULL games? Especially in the past few years where umping has gotten atrocious. You've got to be kidding me...
      And also, are you ok with cheating? Because it has been a part of baseball for well over 150 years, since the days before the National Association.
      You also would have been the clown to say in 1947 "It's ok to keep segregation since it's always been a part of baseball". Poor reasoning bro...

      October 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    Who is Luke Donald?....Jason Donald maybe?

    October 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. phil

    Baseball is shown on TV but it is played on a field.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • I like pizza

      Good Phil! And what is 1 + 1?

      October 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      LOL. good stuff. We should have Phil go bottle feed a homeless cat with Andy S. Give them something constructive to do.

      October 8, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
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