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Instant Replay screwed the Rays twice last night

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Tie goes to the runner........

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

In last night’s game in Boston, The Rays made some baserunning plays that appeared to go their way — until they didn’t.

Now, I am not here to debate whether they were good moves or not. For that, you can take a look at Ian’s piece from a few days ago. What I would like to do, though, is take a look at the original calls, what the video show, and see whether the methodology of MLB replay review line up with the final result.

Replay 1: Play at the plate

In the top of the 4th, right after catcher Michael Perez blooped a two run single into center field to put the Rays within one, the game appeared to be tied up when he looked to have scored on a triple by Austin Meadows.

Definitely a close play that, in real time, could have gone either way. But the call on the field was safe, and here is why that is important:

Replay officials review all calls subject to replay review and decide whether to change the call on the field, confirm the call on the field or let stand the call on the field due to the lack of clear and convincing evidence.

Source: MLB.com glossary

According to MLB’s own rules regarding replay review, there needs to be ‘clear and convincing evidence’ in order to be overturned. If the ‘clear and convincing evidence’ supports the call on the field, then it is confirmed. However, if there is a lack of ‘clear and convincing evidence,’ then the call on the field simply stands as it is.

Since the call on the field was safe, there would need to be at least one angle that would clearly show the glove of Kevin Plawecki tagging Perez before his hand touches the plate.

Let’s look at said angles. Slowed down, of course.

Angle 1: Real-time camera

One thing that is clear is that the throw beats Perez. Also, because Perez is blocking the view of Plawecki’s glove. it’s hard to tell whether he actually does make the tag. To me, the fact that Plawecki continues to reach for Perez’s jersey even after he has already toughed home plate shows that he didn’t quite make the tag in time.

Angle 2: The better one

Now, it does certainly look like Plawecki applied the tag, right? Not so fast! In order for this to be clear and convincing (to me anyway), ‘looks like,’ or ‘close enough,’ doesn’t quite get me there.

Remember, we’re not looking to confirm an out call, we’re looking to overturn a safe call. That’s an important distinction.

With that said, I am looking for something that indicates a definitive tag. A bend in the glove perhaps? A wrinkle in the jersey maybe?

Here is the first frame where I see, clearly and convincingly, glove touching jersey.

You can clearly see the wrinkle in Perez’s jersey that wasn’t there in the previous frame. You can say his hand is still not quite on the plate, but you can just as easily argue he is touching the black. Remember, the call on the field was safe.

Could the case be made that he was out? Sure. Is there enough ‘clear and convincing evidence’ to overturn a call on the field in a two minute replay review?

I don’t think so.

Replay 2: Austin Meadows’s stolen base

Shortly after the Rays took a 7-5 lead in the 7th, Meadows attempted to swipe second base, as the Rays had their way with Plawecki most of the night.

The ball barely beats him, the receiver is well in front of the bag, and the tag is high. At first glance, it seems like an obvious safe call to the naked eye. But this time, the call on the field went against the Rays, so they had to challenge.

Again, the call on the field matters. This time, they needed the ‘clear and convincing evidence’ to work in their favor.

Angle 1: Real-time camera

Slowed down, I’ll admit that it looks a lot closer than at first glance. However, let’s look at the other angles.

Angle 2: Tough to tell

Again, it’s really close. From here, it doesn’t look like he gets the glove on until after Meadows’s cleat pierces the bag. But is it ‘clear and convincing enough’ call overturn the out call?

Not enough for me, anyway. At least, not yet.

Angle 3: The definitive angle

Now, for the last replay, I made the point that, in a two minute review, there was not enough evidence in my mind to overturn the call. In this case, while the first two angles are tough to tell, the third angle shows he is clearly safe.

Had I only been shown the first two angles, I’d be fine with the call standing as out. However, if we’re genuinely looking for ‘clear and convincing evidence,’ I think we have it here. This angle is the only one we need.

Here it is again, slowed down a little more, as zoomed in.

Tie goes to the runner, right?

Conclusion

Simply put, it was a tough day for the Rays and replay reviews.

In Perez’s case, I would have been okay with an out call on the replay, had that been the call on the field. As for Meadows, the opposite is true — The replay should have overturned the call. On the contrary, if the call on the field was safe, the replay should have confirmed it.

Fortunately, the Rays won by one run last night, but here is hoping for better fortunes in tonight’s game.