It was 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning and the Royals were starting to do what the Royals do.
Sal Perez was hit with a Lance McCullers pitch. He left the game for pinch runner Terrance Gore. Gore promptly stole second. After a strikeout made for out number two Gore went for a risky steal of third. He beat the throw and was called safe at third. Shades of the 2014 Wild Card game?
Or maybe not.
We’ll have video of this soon, but in the mean time, while it was basically undetectable with the naked eye, replays — both on our TVs and no doubt in the Astros’ clubhouse — showed that Gore’s foot momentarily came off the bag after he reached it. It’s hard to see why — did Luis Valbuena bump him off? Maybe? Maybe not? Did he block the base? Quite probably!– and it was hard to see whether Valbuena tagged him as they stutter-stepped around. It certainly looked like he might’ve swiped him. Either way, the replay officials think he did, the call was overturned, Gore was out and the inning ended.
This is total baloney. Not because the replay officials were clearly wrong — again, Gore may very well have been tagged in the brief moment his foot was off the bag — but because this is not the sort of thing that should be reviewed in the first place.
It’s a bang-bang play, the likes of which have always happened and which have never been visible before the advent of high speed cameras and replay rules. The business being reviewed was a fidget on top of a fidget and maybe a bit of shoving, not a baseball play that was clearly called wrong by an umpire. Fundamentally, this review took the baseball out of the game and turned it into tennis or something. A fast runner on a fast team came in to change the game and he did. He beat the throw and the tag and was called out because of some throat-clearing and chippy business.
I don’t like these replay reviews on the stutter-steps on a bag. It’s a pedantic business that invites gamesmanship and, eventually, as teams realize how easy it is to steal an out, it incentivizes some subtle body-checking and other nonsense. If you had a replay review umpire up in the booth in charge of correcting blown calls, this never gets reviewed. And no matter what your system is, it shouldn’t be a reviewable play.
The Royals got boned here. Maybe not technically speaking — and maybe, given that Carlos Correa and Colby Rasmus just went back-to-back in the bottom of the seventh, it’s now moot — but the Royals were boned in the sense that their baseball skills were subordinated to ticky-tack garbage and hi-def cameras. It just seems wrong.