The 25-minute umpire conference during the eighth inning on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field should not you just be surprised. It's a worst case, yes. It's a worst-case scenario, yes, it's a 1970s hi-fi.
It's a worst case, yes , It is so inevitable in a sport that it is simple to fix. Though to be fair, Rob Manfred and crew have made sure the scourge of waiver trades in August will not trouble us again.
But I digress.
It's a big three days for the Red Sox at the St. Petersburg Pinball Machine, the start of their season-defining two weeks exclusively on the Rays and Yankees. Tampa had lost 5 of 6, would not have Cy Young winner Blake Snell starting, and lost defensive superstar Kevin Kiermaier to a headfirst slide.
The Sox got what they needed via a 9-4 cakewalk and a white-knuckle 5-4 affair that required Marcus Walden to clean up a ninth-inning mess. (You might think it was more than a journeyman in crunch time.) Well, you would not have watched it all year.) It has been another sweep, but on Wednesday Charlie Morton outdueled David Price, who
"The way [Morton] has thrown the baseball all season long, that's very impressive," said Price, who became the fourth straight starter to finish six innings ̵
So too is what comes now. Minnesota, making it 25 of 33 since mid-June, when the Flickering Rays were a half-game up rather than 10 games back.
The Sox Masahiro Tanaka starts – he opposes Rick Porcello in a Thursday rematch of their London bonanza – and who continues to prove their mettle each night.
" Who wants it more? Who's going to step up and deliver the big hit for us? Aaron Judge said on Tuesday's 14-12 win over the Twins straight from the 2018 Red Sox playbook, New York winning despite 8-2, 9-5, and 11-10 deficits, plus two blown saves.
The 2019 Yankees win those games like Tuesday's. The 2019 Red Sox loose those games like Wednesday's. The high-level baseball, however, is not the takeaway here.
Angel Hernandez shamefully saw fit for that. Manfred, too, by extension.
Whether the handling of Tampa's unorthodox switches in the aforementioned eighth inning
– Chaz Roe replaces Adam Kolarek, batting 9th, replacing first baseman Ji-Man Choi.
– Adam Kolarek replaces Austin Meadows, batting 3rd, playing first base.
– Nate Lowe replaces pitcher Chaz Roe batting 9th, playing first base.
– Adam Kolarek replaces Chaz Roe, batting 3rd.
… the result or not is the point. (I think not, likely why Boston's protest will be denied and the loss will stand.)
Hernandez's reputation Tampa manager Kevin Cash did not specify his batting order changes to a doozy. The two spoke for more than 30 seconds, lineup cards in hand, when the initial switch was made, then again when Kolarek went back to to pitch.
What's worse: Hernandez trying to make a mistake in his recording the move, or That's so bad at his job that he did not ask? "
Cora clearly disagrees, but he did not deign to tell us exactly why.
"It's kind of hard to explain," he said, in part.
Which, frankly, would not be dubious if not for the 17-inning loss in Minnesota where Cora screamed his head off a batter's box ruling that replay immediately showed the umpires got right. (Cora promptly apologized.)
Remember how the replay train really got started a decade ago? Armando Galarraga's imperfect game in 2010. A clear wrong call, for which there is literally no redress. It was a perfect storm that forced change, because what if something like that happened when it really mattered? (Note: It has been, but human error was more acceptable when the tech was 1985 level.)
What's happening in the Atlantic League proves it. A BU study published earlier this year made it plain: "In 2018, MLB umpires made 34,294 incorrect ball and strike calls, for an average of 14 per game or 1.6 per inning." Younger umps do a better job. Older umps a worse one.
They are all addicted to second's disruption. Cameras judge lines in tennis seamlessly. They judge goals in the Premier League and other high-level soccer matches, seamlessly. (We're talking goal-line tech, not VAR.)
And though it does not directly happen on St. Petersburg's St. Petersburg, what does it do better? human umpires to handle things handled by humans.
Check swings. True judgment calls. Knowing the rules.
In short, keeping the game moving. Maybe even by enforcing the rules already on the books.
Instead, Manfred experiments. He hints at implementation change, then backs off, knowing the Players Association could finally come together to fight back on the next CBA. While he waits, this time is 3:08 – a minute higher than in 2014, the season after which MLB formed its' Pace of Game Committee 'to address the issue.'
In Oakland and Tampa, with more than a third of the final results appearing at the end of the story, it is easy to see the true outcome ever. Half swings on the ball go for 400-foot home runs, and no one just thinks why.
Free agency in both basketball and hockey are infinitely more dynamic. Five AL teams might loose 100 games, chasing draft picks in an attempt to mimic success in Houston and with the Cubs.
Angel Hernandez staring at a lineup card, it's five trying to parse frames on a slide into home. The game is great, but it deserves better than what it got Wednesday in St. Petersburg.
We certainly do too.