Replay history at Safeco
Foul-ball ruling upheld after Scioscia calls for review
SEATTLE -- The Major League's recently-adopted instant replay mechanism was used for the first time at Safeco Field on Wednesday night and it confirmed the initial call made by third-base umpire Chuck Meriwether.With one out in the fifth inning, Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero hit a line drive to left field off Mariners ace right-hander Felix Hernandez. The ball landed near the left-field foul pole and caromed back onto the field. Meriwether immediately called it a foul ball and before the next pitch, Angels manager Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout for a brief conversation with the umpire. He returned to the third-base dugout, and then re-emerged, this time asking plate umpire Mike Muchlinski, and then crew chief Tim Welke, for the call to be reviewed. Welke and his three colleagues decided to take a closer look. Two minutes and 28 seconds later, they returned to the field and stuck with Meriwether's call. "Chuck was confident that it hit just to the left [of the foul pole], but when it hit, the ball ricocheted to the right," Welke explained, "and in this ballpark, the foul pole is sitting a couple feet behind the fence ... that's why it's a little more difficult. Mike Scioscia asked if he could request [a review] and we said 'no'. But if there's a concern among the four of us, let's look at it to make sure that we got it right. "Once we got to the second replay -- the first replay was a little inconclusive -- it showed the ball hit just a little to the left on the line and then kicked, which made it a foul ball." Mariners left fielder Wladimir Balentien said he didn't have a good view of where the ball hit, "but when it came back, I just went to get the ball. It was close." From where Scioscia was watching, the third-base dugout, "It looked like the ball hit the top of the fence and then bounced back onto the field. I just wanted to make sure they had a good vantage point on the ball, so I asked. "It just looked really close and I give them credit for looking." It was the first time either team has been involved in instant replay, and Seattle manager Jim Riggleman said the key was that the umpires got the call correct.
"It worked well," he said. "I thought the ball was foul, but it was so close that as soon as it hit, I thought it would get reviewed. Initially, there was no review, then there was another meeting out there and then there was a review. I'm not sure that's the way it's supposed to work, but the bottom line is they got the call right."Since the new rule went into effect on Aug. 28, there have been five instances in which a replay has been used and only once has the original call been reversed. That happened on Sept. 19 at Tropicana Field where Rays slugger Carlos Pena hit the first pitch from Twins right-hander Boof Bonser toward the right-field stands. A spectator could be seen reaching to catch the ball, which prompted first-base umpire Mike DiMuro to call fan interference and award Pena second base. But replays showed that the ball went over the fence before being touched, and therefore was a home run, and the call was reversed. All televised MLB games are monitored and staffed by an expert technician and either an umpire supervisor or a former umpire at Major League Baseball Advanced Media headquarters in New York. A television monitor and a secure telephone link to MLB.com, placed next to the monitor, have been installed at all 30 ballparks. If the crew chief determines that instant replay review is necessary on a particular disputed home run, he calls the MLB.com technician, who then transmits the most appropriate video footage to the crew chief and the umpire crew on site. The umpire supervisor or former umpire does not have direct communication with any of the umpires on site, and the decision to reverse a call is at the sole discretion of the crew chief. The standard used by the crew chief when reviewing a play is whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the umpire's decision on the field was incorrect and should be reversed. The use of replay is limited only to home runs: in or out, fair or foul, and fan interference. "It's a great tool, and that's what it's for," Welke said. "It worked tonight, and proved that we were correct. But if for some reason we had made a mistake, we would have been able to correct it."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.