Trot out replay for home runs

Roch's Rant

May 28, 2008|By ROCH KUBATKO

Stop me if you've heard this one: There was a disputed home run call Monday.

No, seriously, a manager rushed out of the dugout to complain that an umpire ruled incorrectly that a ball hit the fence instead of a back wall before bouncing back on the field. What should have been a home run for Dmitri Young almost became a triple. And somewhere, a child wept.

At least this time, the umpires eventually got it right. But that hasn't usually been the case.

If there's collusion in baseball, it has to be the umpires deciding among themselves to keep blowing home run calls until the sport implements a replay system.

Remember when stealing signs was all the rage? Now baseball might steal a few pages from the NFL, which is fine with me, as long as it's only for these occasions. Though the past week or so doesn't reflect it, most home run calls are automatic. The ball disappears into a sea of fans or crashes into a bullpen, and we move on to the next hitter. Some of us head to the restroom or flag down a beer vendor. But each time there has been a dispute this season, one television replay has been enough to overturn the ruling. It takes about 12 seconds - or roughly the amount of time needed to clear out Tropicana Field after a game.

(This is a separate rant, but the Rays drew an announced 12,174 for Monday's 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers. That's the first-place Rays, 11 games above .500 for the first time in franchise history, owners of the best record in baseball. Hello? Anyone out there?)

I don't need umpires gathering for a conference and debating whether a runner's foot hit the bag before the throw. I don't particularly want 3 1/2 -hour games becoming 4 1/2 -hour games because a player insists that he checked his swing and CB Bucknor insists that his dinner reservation won't be held past 7 p.m.

Get the home runs right and leave the rest to the umpires - and the human element. Somewhere, a child will smile. And Dmitri Young will still be breathing hard.

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