I have so far regarded the debate about baseball’s new replay system as a non-story, insofar as 1) I think replay is a good idea in general, 2) mistakes are going to be made and 3) one may assume that the system will be improved over time. Of course, attention will be paid to egregious mistakes, but those ought not to call into question the utility of the system in general, unless there is meaningful evidence that the game is worse off with replay than without it. In the games I’ve seen so far, the decisions have been made quickly and the calls have been right. The blown call a week ago Saturday in the Yankees-Red Sox game involving Dean Anna was frustrating, especially because the teams’ broadcast each had the definitive angle, but MLB somehow didn’t. But that strikes me as a fixable kind of problem.
Having said all that, what happened last night in Tampa Bay borders on the unbelievable. As Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky tells it:
“Yunel Escobar struck out on a 4-2 pitch, which is a good sign that something went horribly wrong.”
That’s not a typo. The count was four balls and two strikes when Escobar struck out. For those of you familiar with the ball and strike rules in baseball, which have been in place in their current form for over a hundred years, this is not possible.
The 4-2 pitch took place *after* a replay review of all of the pitches in the at-bat, which is almost impossible to fathom. MLB’s always going to get scrutinized for stuff like this more than the other sports. So, they really need to be able to count to four without fail.