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Great Moments in Instant Replay: Yunel Escobar strikes out on a 4-2 count

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With the disclaimer that I like instant replay and that I think its results so far are a net positive even if it’s hard to get used to the often clunky implementation, it did not experience its finest hour in last night’s Rays-Twins game.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Yunel Escobar came to the plate. At one point he checked his swing and the ball bounced off the catcher’s mitt. At first glance it appeared to be a foul ball — that’s what the scoreboard operator registered anyway — but it was a ball. A few seconds later Escobar took his fourth ball, and then confusion reigned. Watch it all unfold here.

Both dugouts and Escobar thought it was ball four. The home plate umpire wasn’t sure — this is not terribly uncommon, actually, and sometimes they double check their little handheld clickers with the scoreboard — so they went to instant replay to review. But even instant replay got the call wrong and the count was officially set to 3-2, even though Escobar should have already been on first base. On the 4-2 pitch, Escobar struck out.

Major League Baseball agreed, issuing a statement after the game:

”An error was made when replay officials and supervisors mistakenly thought one of the pitches was a foul ball when it was actually a ball,” MLB said in a statement.

It ended up not mattering in the game, but it’s not a defining moment for instant replay, that’s for sure.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.