The disputed Billy Butler home run in the Yankees-Royals game is going to be used by instant replay opponents to say that even a replay system isn’t perfect, but in this case replay wasn’t the problem. It was human error. As in, the umpires apparently didn’t know the ground rules of the ballpark in which they were calling the game.
Short version: Billy Butler’s third inning blast hit the top of the padding below the chain link portion of the fence in the pic to the right. While the ground rules for Kauffman Stadium — the Universal Ground Rules, not some park-specific ground rules, as Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger notes — do not specify what constitutes a homer, it has always been the case that the top padding, above the chain link portion, was the home run boundary.
So, the blast doesn’t go that high, the umps review it and … still say it’s a homer.
Basically, the umps are either completely blind and couldn’t see what is abundantly clear in the replay, or else the umps simply did not know what the ground rules were for Kauffman Stadium. Except, as Carig reports, Yankees coach Mick Kelleher said that before the series, he was told by the umps that the top portion of the fence was the home run boundary, so the latter explanation doesn’t make sense.
A computer is only a good as its programming. A replay system is only as good as the people reviewing it. In this case, the people screwed up, allowing a solo home run that shouldn’t have been in a game that was ultimately decided by one run.
The bummer part here: Girardi, for some reason, did not protest the game, as is a manager’s right when the rules are misapplied. If he had, baseball could theoretically replay the game a la the famous pine tar game, which also involved the Yankees and the Royals. But even if that can’t happen now, someone — someone in blue — needs to be disciplined over this.