The San Francisco Giants lost a game last night by one run, a difference that was the direct result of a blown call by the home umpire, one that would have been overturned by the new Instant Replay Rule. Bruce Bochy responded immediately as his pitcher, Matt Cain, sprang up from his prone position at home plate, and seriously got into the home umpire’s face. They argued, nothing changed, and they adjourned to the dugout. Bochy could not challenge the call because he had already used his one opportunity available during the first six innings of each game, only two batters before.
The question is, not so much whether or not replay should be implemented, but what is the best way to utilize it? In a situation like the one described above, the decision to use the challenge on a play at first base, meant it was not available to use on a play at the plate only two batters later. Should Bochy not have challenged the play at first, thinking a more opportune moment might come along later, just as occurred last night?
The answer is no. After the game, Bochy responded to questions about his use of the new rule, on that play at first base involving a runner diving back to the bag. During an interview with Chris Haft, Bochy stated that he would not have done anything differently and here’s why.
“If we think the play is wrong, we’re going to challenge it,” he said. “Doesn’t mean it’s going to be overturned. Sure there could be another play, but you don’t know that. These cards have backs on them…that was a pretty big pick-off if we had got the call. Would I change anything? No.”
Haft then asked, “So when you get the play at the plate immediately afterwards, and you don’t have a challenge to use…”
Bochy didn’t let him finish the question. “…you just hang with them…that’s what you call just hanging with them. You can’t do anything at that point,” he finished.
He’s right, of course, and I’m glad to see our skipper has the sense to recognize it’s just baseball. If you beat yourself up after the game for every possible thing you can find to blame yourself for, you’re not going to be in the business for very long, at least not in an enjoyable capacity. You just can’t go through life questioning every decision.
The new rule is long overdue, but now that it’s arrived, it’s nice to see that it won’t be the source of any new drama. The umpires are more than capable of providing that.