No matter what you think of video replay review in Major League Baseball, this much is certain: It has a knack for creating the ideal anticlimax.
Rhys Hoskins of the Phillies hit what appeared to be a tying three-run home run against the Edwin Díaz of the Mets in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday night — until a replay review reversal took it all away.
And, boy, Hoskins was peeved. He was madder than peeved. We’d show you, but he says a magic word too clearly after getting the bad news.
Video review got the call right; his fly ball doinked off a railing in right field and
not a seat behind it. Railing = in play for a two-run double. So, the review was right. This is what we want, as baseball fans, officials and players: to get the call right. Right?
The only problem, and it’s not insignificant, was that it totally ruined the mood of what everyone (except the Mets) thought was a great moment. The review took about 2 minutes, 30 seconds, an agonizing amount of time, after umpire Jose Navas called it a homer in real life. It was hard to tell even in slow motion, from the angles on the ESPN broadcast, where the ball hit. They didn’t show the public, at least, an angle from behind the fence that would have definitively shown the ball not hitting a seat. Why wouldn’t such an angle exist?
Navas made what would be a difficult call for any umpire in a modern ballpark. Designers could have made it a little easier on him by painting a yellow line, or doing something to distinguish the railing from the seats. But this is what we want from our MLB: quirky stadiums and video replay to save us from incorrect calls. So we live with it.
Hoskins would rather have it the old way, probably. When he got the signal from the umps that the call was overturned, Hoskins’ reacted with a “Fun you!” (or something) as harrumphed his way to the rack to grab his batting helmet so he could go back to, blergh, second base. It was a huge bummer. Like a “dry hump” when a relief pitcher warms up, but doesn’t go in the game, only much, much worse. Again, except for the Mets, who remember Hoskins doing a slow trot on a go-ahead home run in 2018. The Jacob Rhame era!
Watching on replay the moments leading up to the homer made it all even more ironic. The broadcast did some funny foreshadowing, with Matt Vasgersian saying:
“Boy, if Hoskins could come up with a base hit here and keep the game alive, or even something bigger, it would be one of the most redeeming moments of his season.”
A-Rod chipped in: “Mets killer, Hoskins, but 0 for 9 for his career vs. Díaz.”
During the review, Vasgergian added: “There's some tricky boundaries out there with the railing. I just can't tell.” You don’t say. And, best of all: “Edwin Díaz is shell shocked.” It turns out, for no good reason!
“MLB: We toy with our players’ emotions!” Díaz left the game with back tightness, but the Mets won 8-7 after Jeurys Familia struck out Bryce Harper.
The broadcast also noted, no doubt to the delight of Hoskins and Phillies fans, that it would have been a home run in 25 ballparks out of 30 in MLB. But not Citizens Bank Park. Twist that knife in!
You might have noticed that MLB isn’t the only place where the anticlimax has become routine. Every buzzer-beating shot in basketball is reviewed by replay, even when it was obviously good to the naked eye, making those moments awkward when they should be celebratory. Every score is reviewed in football. Same kind of thing, except we wait on the NFL’s newest definition of a catch. Still, there’s probably no going back from replay review in pro sports. It’s a safety net — which just happens to strangle sometimes.
Even if replay were 100 percent infallible, we’ll still have fallout. So the next time your hometown player comes up big to win the game, you think, don’t get too excited. We have to wait for the replay.