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.

Post by:
Filed under: Sports
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Rob Johnson

    Those of you saying that Posey wasn't out must have missed the part of the article where Posey himself said "Good thing we didn't have instant replay."

    Like somebody else said, I don't expect him to say "Actually, I was out, and in the name of good sportsmanship, I will now retire to the dugout." That asking a bit much.

    But even Posey himself KNOWS he was out. No controversy about that part.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Geez

    This just proves what Ive thought all along... CNN has some of the dumbest opinion piece writers, prone to knee jerk reactions. They just pick the side they think people will agree with and run with it. No instant replay in baseball.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andy s

    why is this an issue. no matter if an ump or a computer makes the call theres going to someone mad about the call. its a human game with human error. get over it. cuz eventunly the field will be surrounded by hi tech cameras and all the fans will b at home watching on fb sports or espn.com or some evolved version. there is so much going wrong in the country let alone the word. and we r worried about instant replay? come on. why not worry about where our countrys money is going to. or finding a way to stick a lie detector on our politicians when they talk to the public. or cleaning up the enviroment. or how about this. finding funding for our space program before it goes wrong and the human race is doomed. our sun has a life expectacy thus so does our planet. so worry about the future of us before there is no us cuz of natral disaster or nuclear war.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      Andy, go for it. Save the world. Why are you wasting time posting in this forum? In the time it took you to write that you could've cured cancer.

      We, on the other hand, prefer to discuss the relatively minor problem of IR in baseball.

      October 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ryan

    cry me a river. it wouldn't have happened if the braves third baseman could field a ground ball. go giants

    October 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      Same thing I thought. That was a catchable grounder.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maverick

    (sigh) Ok, say it with me...

    ...it's only a game...
    ...it's only a game...
    ...it's funny watching the Cubs play, but it's ONLY a game...

    October 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DrNecessitor

    Yeah, I'm sure everyone would love to have the game slowed down even more for replay reviews. Human error has always been part of the game, and it all evens out in the end.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Trey

    People say baseball is a human game that doesn't need all the technology. If that i s true, let's get rid of our radar guns, as that includes technology. Let's also get rid of all the jumbotrons as that is technology. Let's just go back to baseball in the 30s and 40s, real nice. I think baseball with instant replay is a good thing to have.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      Trey, don't forget to get rid of most of the cars. And highways. We should be walking to the game. No cold beer either. Has to be lukewarm. Also, next time you go to a game you have to wear a suit. And shine your shoes. No more night games either. Take down all the lights.

      Nobody is talking about reversing time. Its not a knock against technology. Its that technology doesn't automatically mean better.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. I hate sports

    I really do, but I won't go into that. The fact that video replays aren't used in this day and age is just stupid. How many bad calls is it going to take before we bring sports into the 21st century? I'll trust a video camera that has no grudges and/or bias over an overpaid pair of eyes any day.

    October 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      You have no dog in this fight. Stick to needle point or whatever it is you do.

      October 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • I hate sports

      I have just as much a say as a simpleton like yourself, sorry my logic doesn't have a rebuttal you can come up with other than "YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING HUSH"

      October 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      Certainly you should hush because you don't have an understanding of the implications of your opinion. That's why I say you don't have a dog in this fight. It would be as if I made a comment about how the way you needle point sucks. I don't know anything about needle point so it wouldn't be right for me to judge something I don't understand.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • I hate sports

      You still have yet to offer a rebuttal in my opinion, all you're doing is saying I don't understand, show me where I don't understand. Tell me why a few simply set up cameras to keep these corrupt and/or mistaken officials in check would be a bad idea.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      The short answer is that what you are proposing will alter the character, fundamental nature and tempo of a baseball game. And contrary to your last statement, MLB umpires are not "crooked." They are sometimes mistaken. However, altering the character and tempo of a baseball game in order to correct those rare mistakes doesn't make sense.

      Nobody cuts out a heart to save a bruised fingertip. This is what your opinion suggests, along with all the other proponents of IR in baseball.

      October 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • I hate sports

      I almost agree with you, however, I believe that a quick look over a replay would be better retain the "tempo" of game than having a team manager come out and scream profanity at the umpire until he's thrown out. And if these mistakes are indeed rare, then an instant replay will rarely even effect this tempo.

      October 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      While the mistakes are rare the review of plays will not be. Football is a good case in point. Every close call will be reviewed. Replay will become obligatory. Most rulings on the field in football are confirmed. So for the most part the replay was unnecessary to begin with. In the end you've done exactly what you set out not to do. Tempo IS destroyed.

      Managers argue calls for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the manager is simply backing up his player. Sometimes he's just mad about it. Sometimes he wants to get into an umpire's head. And while manager-ump arguments may pause the principle action, they are much more entertaining than watching a ref stare into a tv screen for 2 minutes.

      October 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • I hate sports

      "they are much more entertaining than watching a ref stare into a tv screen for 2 minutes." I have two issues with this.
      1. It makes you sound like a bit of a jerk, you don't care about the players, you just care about your own entertainment.
      2. You look into a field and how many kids do you see in the stands? I'm sure all those parents would rather an umpire quietly review a play than have a profane shouting match.

      "Every close call will be reviewed. Replay will become obligatory." I'm sure there's enough people that think like you that would prevent this. I personally would prefer a system where the manager calls out a ref. and hey, lets make it like baseball. If he calls out an umpire 3 times in one game and loses, he's out! That way it would prevent the overuse of them.

      October 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Scott

    What is this "soccer" you speak of?

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

      It's SOCKER dammit!!

      October 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dennis F

    I am a firm beleiver of instant replay. I believe that it is very useful in preventing a crooked umpire from affectiing the outcome of the game with an obviously bad call.

    With that said, thae replay should be used solely to determine if the call was 'obviosly blown'. Get rid of slow motion instant replays from 17 different angles. Make it simple. Let the head umpire review 3 different angles at normal speed. If he can't tell that the call was obviously blown after that review, then the play stands as called.

    This crap about the official being chastised for blowing a call when the only way you can tell that the call was wrong is to view it from 17 different angles at one-fifth to one-tenth of realtime speed is just that CRAP! People are not infallable, and that is part of the game!

    October 8, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Visionsj

    Oh its baseball and socker. Socker is like a donkey punch for premature ejaculators.

    October 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mttrailboss

    If they have video re-play in the National Football League (NFL).., they should have it in professional baseball, too. It makes no sense, not to have it.., after all, every game in professional baseball is important, including picking teams to win or to bet on. Believe me.., its important to the professional baseball player, teams, owners, players agent, loyal fans and player baseball association and Las Vegas. One bad call.., can cost a sports handicapper or better thousands of dollars each game. It make 'no' sense, not to have video re-play in professional baseball. Mike in Montana

    October 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • redisgreat

      NBA, NHL, College sports. All have it. Baseball is a dinosaur that needs to get with the program. In fact they do already use replay to determine home runs. Why not review calls at a base. A team could have one or two challenges a game. Each play could be taped and if a challenge is asked for, a review could be made. The umpires union is the only ones that have a big complaint in this. Some purists sure but they will not be happy until Walter Johnson comes back and The Babe hits another homer.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      Bettor check your spelling. Do it for Vegas? Really? Come on. So what you're telling us is that you lost several thousand dollars on that game?

      October 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. drew

    Intergrity of the game? The Yankees have lived off bad calls for years? Get real! Jeffrey Maier, Reggie's hip, the pitch to Martinez before his grand slam, Clemens being allowed to continue despite throwing a bat in Piazza's direction, etc, etc! It's part of the darn game. Players make errors, managers make poor decisions, and umpires miss calls. Deal with it.

    October 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dark Rising

    I used to be an umpire for Little League, and yea, I've blown calls. I've blown game changing calls. But that is just part of the game. I did the best I could in the split second that you have to see it and decide. If MLB ever wants to go to instant replay it will destroy the game. With how many camera angles there are at the games these days, if they do go to instant replay they might as well not even have the umpires out there. After each play they can just have TBS or FOX tell the player they were out or safe. I love technology for the VIEWING of the game, and hope they leave it at that.

    October 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      I agree with what you say. I was an infield umpire at a softball game and a runner slid into 3rd base in a heap of dust. Couldn't see the tag due to the cloud of dust so I called him safe. Took some heat from the 3rd baseman and some of his teammates but there is no way I'm going to call someone out when I couldn't see the tag.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. drew

    Why not replay ever single pitch? OR use a computer to call balls and strikes? Why does one umpire's strike zone differ from another? Why do veterans get a wider strike zone than rookies? If you want replay, go all the way...every single pitch...until then, it's useless. The pitch to Berkman last night appeared to be a strike...it clealry changed the game, right? So, if you believe replay is necessary, don't go half way, go all the way.

    October 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • DenverRedsFan

      well said.

      October 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6