The World Series umpires managed to botch two double play calls in back-to-back innings last night leaving fans to once again wonder if a trained beagle couldn't do a better job refereeing playoff baseball games.
While not quite as egregious as some of the earlier gaffes from this postseason, the two mistakes only take us one step closer on the march to full instant replay reviews. It was a close, bang-bang play but TV showed that Chase Utley was clearly safe at first on the back end of an eighth-inning double play. (Even blatant Yankee fans say so.) A correct call by first base ump Brian Gorman would have given Philly runners at first and third for the next Ryan Howard strikeout, but it still affected the way the later innings played out.
The first goof was a much tougher call, but it did appear that Johnny Damon's line dive skipped off the dirt before landing in Ryan Howard's glove in the seventh. I say "appear," because even though most commentators* agreed with that take the umpires would not admit they were wrong (Gorman was out of position to see it, but could have been overruled by another ump) and the replay was close enough to leave some doubt. That is the great fallacy of instant replay, of course. In the sports that do have it, referees still botch calls on a regular basis—even after looking at the video tape—so the idea that replays will get everything right is laughable.
So both teams got screwed and it probably wouldn't have changed the final outcome, but an expansion of instant replay in baseball is now inevitable. Enjoy that.
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*The only people who saw no problem with these calls were the Baseball Tonight crew, who suddenly became apologists for bad officiating. First of all, why is Berman even there? Karl Ravech owns the sport all year long, but then Fat Head McGee decides to show up for the World Series to annoy us all to death. (I would never use the word "hate" about another human ... but man do I hate that guy. Like a sickness.) Listen as he, John Kruk and Bobby Valentine pretend there's no reason whatsoever to dispute these calls.
"As good as a call" as he could have made? No, actually I can think of a better call. Like the correct one. Jackasses.