The overwhelming weight of opinion among baseball commentators this morning is that Bud Selig should step in, overturn Angel Hernandez’s bad call of the Adam Rosales non-home-run and force the Indians and A’s to reply the remainder of that game from that point, with the game tied.
Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, among many others are arguing that in columns and on Twitter. Olney’s reasoning is the general thinking:
The commissioner can change this, immediately.
There is precedent, of course, and George Brett knows all about this. In 1983, he hit a go-ahead home run against the Yankees, and the umpires called him out because they ruled he had too much pine tar on his bat. Upon further review of the call, American League president Lee MacPhail reversed that decision — which was the right thing to do — from the point of Brett’s home run, with the Royals leading 5-4.
I get the appeal of that argument. But to think that Major League Baseball will use that as “precedent” is to ignore the fact that overruling the pine tar call and replaying the game created no precedent whatsoever. That game was replayed, yes. But since then there have been hundreds — probably thousands — of clearly botched calls in baseball, and I can’t think of any other games that have been replayed following a Commissioner’s overturn of the calls. There may have been a couple. I seriously doubt there have been more than three, if that.
Which isn’t to say that replaying the game wouldn’t be the right thing. It certainly would be the fair thing. It would not, however, represent the upholding of precedent, as that word is understood among people who make decisions about important matters. To the contrary, the pine tar game and any other replayed game are the outliers. The exceptions to the rules. They’re the 1983 slip opinion from a lower court in a far flung jurisdiction which, however instructive, is not at all binding.
More relavent precedent? Major League Baseball’s ignoring blown calls as if it were required to do so, citing the “human element” and making some reference to “a can of worms,” shrugging its shoulders and hoping to God that one game’s outcome will not impact a playoff race. That’s like Supreme Court precedent for Bud Selig. And is exactly what will happen here, I wager.