After a rather long and eventful game on Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers were defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-5. The game experienced a lot of stops in play, including five challenges that were made during the game.
The Dodgers, who have not had success this season against the challenge and replay system, saw the Pirates get four calls overturned in their favor during the game. Even when a few of the original calls were made in the Dodgers’ favor, the umpire crew received different verdicts from the headquarters back in New York.
Through this point in the season, the Dodgers have challenged 28 calls, with only 9 of them getting overturned in their favor. Manager Don Mattingly and players in the clubhouse have all voiced their opinion of the replay system and at times how it just seems to destroy the Dodgers chances of production in an inning.
The most important call that was overturned came during the ninth inning, when Yasiel Puig hit a ground ball to the third baseman Jung Ho Kang. After double clutching, Kang fired a bullet that appeared to have taken the first baseman Sean Rodriguez off the bag, which resulted in the umpire calling Puig safe. The play was reviewed and Puig was out.
After the game, Mattingly was asked about that call and the overall process of the replay system, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
I’m just sure it’s 100 percent. That replay system is so good that there’s 100 percent turnover there that the foot was absolutely on the bag and I’m sure, I’m hoping to get a photo of that. I just want them to get it right. As long as it’s 100 percent convincing, then it’s the right call.”
The call proved to be enough for the Pirates, as that second out put an end to the Dodgers’ rally attempt that was cut short of one run. From a player’s perspective, it must be difficult to watch, as the umpire crew has to wait patiently to hear back from another crew in New York, while the entire stadium sits in silence waiting to see the announcement. A.J. Ellis was asked about the unfortunate turnout and brushed the notion to support the replay system:
Every time you watch a challenge, you’re so biased that your team will come out on top,” said Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis. “Both dugouts are thinking, we get this call, most of the time. It’s disheartening to see, then you take a look at it later and there’s probably a reason they called him out. Trust the process, trust the system, trust the judgment of the guys who are making the decisions.”
Mattingly has been very critical of the replay system throughout the season, experiencing all the different facets of the process. On May 14, replay officials in New York informed Mattingly that they indeed did get a call wrong when it was challenged by the Dodgers. The play in question was a line drive off the bat of Howie Kendrick that clearly looked to have touched the ground when the outfielder made a trap play. After announcing the decision that Kendrick was out, Mattingly was tossed for arguing the call.
Of the 28 plays challenged in the 2015 campaign, 11 of them have been disputes about calls at first base and 10 of them have been plays resulting in tags.