Missed call upsets Yanks, benefits Tigers
After latest ruling controversy, Girardi says time is now for expanded replay
NEW YORK -- When Omar Infante rounded second base too hastily in the eighth inning in Sunday's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the Yankees were ready to capitalize on the break and perhaps put momentum back on their side.
Instead, what ensued was a controversial missed call that left New York with additional frustration following a 3-0 loss that gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
It also left Yankees manager Joe Girardi pleading for expanded use of instant replay as soon as possible.
"In this day and age, there is too much at stake, and the technology is available," Girardi said. "That's what our country has done. We have evolved technology to make things better. Yeah, let's have instant replay. And not just, not just home run, fair, foul. Let's have instant replay."
With the Tigers clinging to a 1-0 lead with two outs in the top of the eighth, Austin Jackson stung a single to right.
Infante raced around second, but went too far. Nick Swisher alertly fired the ball in to second, and Robinson Cano was there for the tag. Just as the Yankees were ready to race back into the dugout and hit, Infante was called safe by second-base umpire Jeff Nelson.
Television replays were conclusive: Infante couldn't get his hand on the bag before Cano made the tag to his chest. After the game, once Nelson had a chance to watch the replay, he saw what every other viewer saw on television.
"The hand did not get in before the tag, the call was incorrect," Nelson said.
After the missed call, the Tigers scored two more runs in the inning on singles by pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia and Miguel Cabrera.
Girardi came back out for a vehement argument with Nelson and was ejected.
"Oh, he continued to argue the call after being warned not to, left his position on the mound during a trip, and came down and argued the call," said Nelson.
With the Yankees' offense struggling mightily in this series, a 3-0 deficit felt like 8-0.
"Yeah, he was out by I would say five feet," Cano said. "It is tough, because if it was the right call, it would be 1-0 instead of 3-0."
"I didn't see a replay, but the guys told me it looked out," Infante said. "I think it's tough for the umpire, because I was doing something with my hands and I think that's why he was confused. Yeah, I was surprised. That's a tough situation. The game was pretty tight, and it's tough for an umpire."
"I had the tag late and the hand going into the bag before the tag on the chest," Nelson said. "I'm telling you what I saw. ... There was no reference to tagging high. It was just exactly like I told you."
That probably won't make Girardi feel much better as the series shifts to Detroit for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday on TBS at 8 p.m. ET.
"It's frustrating," Girardi said. "I don't have a problem with Jeff's effort, I don't, because he hustled to get to the play. But in this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it's got to change. These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure.
"It is a tough call for him, because the tag is underneath and it's hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right. Too much is at stake. We play 235 days to get to this point, and two calls go against us. We lose it by one run last night."
In Game 1, Cano was called out on a bang-bang play at first. Though that one was much tougher to call than what happened in Game 2, replays still showed he was safe.
Commissioner Bud Selig told The Los Angeles Times in an interview on Thursday that he would like some form of expanded instant replay by next season. Selig was asked specifically about replay for distinguishing fair or foul balls or whether a ball was caught or trapped.
"I think we'll have it, for sure," said Selig. "They're working on cameras in all the ballparks. We need the right cameras. Should we have them by next year? We'd better."
Under the current format, the only plays eligible for replay are home runs.
Joe Torre, the executive vice president of baseball operations, acknowledged talking about the matter with the Commissioner during the All-Star Game.
"I know we're talking about balls past down the line and trap plays," said Torre. "We are certainly sensitive to it. We are looking into it. We have technology set up in this ballpark and over at Citi Field the last month of the season and looking at the results of that, but that wouldn't have included the play tonight."
"But yeah, you know, it certainly goes into the equation when we make the decision. We have to make sure we don't have any knee-jerk reaction to something. We settle this tag play at second base, and all of a sudden we find, you know, something else comes up and something else comes up, and the game goes on and on, forever and forever.
"So we're looking into it. We're not saying it can happen, but right now, we haven't really come to any conclusion on what's the best way to go about it and not make the game drag and go longer than they are going already."
Girardi isn't so sure that time would be that big of an issue.
"I have been thrown out of games enough to know it would be quicker to get the call right or wrong or right on replay than for me to go out there and argue," said Girardi. "And they talk about the flow of the game. And as I said, I don't have a problem with their effort. He hustled, he tried to get there. I understand that. But it's an easy thing. It takes 30 seconds. It's easy. You hear how quickly a crowd reacts."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland would like to see the replay system expanded beyond what it is now, but he didn't sound sold that a play like the one that occurred Sunday should be reviewable.
"I don't want to make this a total replay game," Leyland said. "I don't think that's good for the game. I don't want to make this a game where we're checking with somebody else all the time because then people are going to say 'safe or out?' I am not for that. I like the human element, to be honest with you.
"But I would like to see fair or foul on the grass. I know you can't do it on the ground ball because over the bag, the third baseman catches it and the umpire says 'foul' and on the replay it's fair, and he didn't even throw the ball, that is difficult. Any ball that is in the outfield, if it is questionable, you need to check it. It could be a tied game in the World Series. I think you need to check that."