In a very competitive game where the Indians were leading The Yankees 3-2, a deep drive went toward right-center field off of the bat of Jorge Posada. Trevor Crowe backed up onto the warning track and began his ascension to rob Posada of the go-ahead pinch homer. As his glove cleared the wall, you can blatently see the glove of a fan blocking Crowe’s attempt at catching the ball. Whether or not Crowe would have made the catch is irrelevant.
In the rules of instant replay according to Major League Baseball, fan interference on a ball that can be caught shall result in an out for the batter. I was unsure as to exactly what happened until the play was shown a couple more times. The umpires then huddled to discuss the controversy. Then they disappear to the box down in the tunnel (pictured at top). Eight and a half minutes later the umpires reappear and call Joe Girardi and Eric Wedge to conference the decision behind home plate. The video replay must not have been enough evidence because the homer counted. Watch the video provided above and decide.
Upon my own review, Crowe was close enough to the ball when his glove stopped because of the interfering fan sticking his glove over the wall and preventing him from making an attempt on the ball. I am not saying he would have caught the ball, but I am saying he has every right to attempt catching that ball without a fan physically denying him that chance.
In my opinion, this systems needs revamped fast if MLB is going to be serious about using it.
First of all, put a microphone on the umpire to explain the call so the fans know what the official ruling is determined to be. The NFL does it successfully and if you didn’t understand why a play is or isn’t overturned, you at least learn what the officiating crew decided the rule should be interpreted as.
Secondly, speed it up. Did they eat a couple of sandwiches and have a smoke before they decided to return? Eight minute delays are too long. Five minutes should be the max, and if that is unfeasable, drop the system now.
Finally, expand its uses. Brandon Phillips got away with one today in The Reds-Astros game when he scooped up a ground ball and tried to tag Hunter Pence advancing to second before throwing to first for a double play. Phillips missed Pence by a good foot-and-a-half, but Pence was called out and the double play was turned. Replay would have clearly shown the umpire crew how bad they blew this call, and rapidly. If Sportscenter can show it in 20 seconds, the umpires can manage to see the replay and deliver the proper call within five minutes.
I hate when props are added to anything and remain largely ineffective due to fear and ignorance.