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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.

 

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?