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Replay umps blow key call in Astros-Red Sox game

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You’d think that if you take nearly four minutes to watch a play, over and over again, that you stand a decent chance of getting it right, but that was not the case for the replay officials covering the Astros-Red Sox game last night.

Houston was down early but came back to tie things up with a four-run rally in the fifth inning. Jump forward to the seventh. With the game still tied at five Jose Altuve bunted his way on, made it to second base on an error and made it to third on a passed ball. With one out, Yuli Gurriel grounded to short and Altuve broke home. Xander Bogaerts threw home, the throw was high, Sandy Leon did the reach-grab-swipe tag thing and . . .

The call on the field was “out.” A.J. Hinch challenged and it took three minutes and 50 seconds for the review to be completed.  The call stood, with replay officials saying it was inconclusive if the tag was applied before he touched the plate with his left hand. Which is odd given that it took me a matter of seconds, on my first look at the above video, to see that he was safe. I screencapped it:

 

A.J. Hinch after the game:

“He did get in there. It’s clear as day. I’m tired of these questions because replay’s set up for precisely that type of play, and we feel like we have clear evidence.”

Astros outfielder Josh Reddick certainly thought so:

As you likely know by now, the game remained tied until the ninth when the Red Sox won it on a walkoff RBI single from Mitch Moreland, reducing the Astros’ lead over the Athletics to two and a half games in the AL West.

Bad calls happen — it’s not an offense against God and Nature for the on-field ump to get that wrong given how fast it played out — but replay is supposed to fix them. That no one could see that Altuve was in ahead of that tag in nearly four minutes when anyone with an internet connection and access to MLB.com could see it in, like, 20 seconds, is a problem.

 

Noah Syndergaard on Mets extending Jacob deGrom: ‘Pay the man already.’

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March has marked contract extension season across Major League Baseball. Just in the last week, we have seen Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Brandon Lowe, Alex Bregman, Ryan Pressly, Mike Trout, Eloy Jiménez, Blake Snell, and Paul Goldschmidt sign extensions. Nolan Arenado, Luis Severino, and Aaron Nola also notably signed extensions during the offseason.

One name strikingly absent from that list: Mets ace Jacob deGrom. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom is earning $17 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility going into the 2020 season. He will turn 31 years old in June, but is an obvious extension candidate for the Mets, who have built arguably their most competitive team since 2015, when the club lost the World Series in five games to the Royals. Thus far, though, the Mets and deGrom haven’t been able to get anywhere in extension talks.

deGrom’s rotation mate Noah Syndergaard is watching. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Syndergaard said, “I think Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want them to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all the fuss and pay the man already.”

Syndergaard added that the recent extension trend around baseball — and deGrom’s lack of an extension to date — sends a message. He said, “I think so, yes, because of what you see in what’s going on in baseball right now. If there wasn’t a trend of other guys getting contract extensions, then I don’t know what the circumstance would be. But you see Chris Sale, Verlander getting extensions. I think it’s time Jacob gets one too.”

Part of the equation behind the recent rash of extensions is the stagnation of free agency. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel — two of baseball’s better pitchers — have gone through almost an entire spring training without being signed. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado didn’t find new homes until late February. Free agents in their 30’s are largely being underpaid or otherwise forgotten about. Extensions represent financial security for young and old players alike. Syndergaard himself can become a free agent after the 2021 season, so if deGrom’s prospects improve, then so too will his, at least without knowing the details of the next collective bargaining agreement which will be put into place ahead of the 2022 season.