MLB video review remains an inexact science

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — There were four minutes and 25 seconds’ worth of video review in the game Saturday, on two calls that even after review didn’t seem to be correct.

The first one came in the top of the fifth. Tigers starter Michael Fulmer had already hit leadoff hitter Tyler Saladino. He threw a pitch up and in to Tim Anderson that home plate umpire Doug Eddings said hit the bat.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria listens to the umpires explaination after a review of a play in the fifth inning Saturday at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Manager Rick Renteria challenged that the pitch hit Anderson. The call stood and Renteria demanded and got a lengthy explanation from crew chief Jeff Nelson. If it didn’t hit Anderson, then it certainly didn’t hit the bat. The count should have been 1-0, not 0-1.

“The replay people were stuck on that one,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “A hit by pitch is reviewable but whether it hit the bat or not is not reviewable. When they looked at it, you can see it didn’t hit the bat, but you don’t know if it hit him or not.

“It doesn’t look like it did, but it doesn’t show (conclusively) that it didn’t. So they were kind of stuck.”

Ausmus said Eddings heard the ball hit something, and so did he.

“But they can’t overturn that,” he said. “That’s not part of the replay review. And that’s not going to change, because then you are going to start reviewing every foul tip? I don’t think so.”

There are ways, though, of getting around some of the review rules. Ausmus recalled a crucial play back in 2014 that helped the Tigers win the Central Division. At that time, tag-up plays were not reviewable.

It was a game in Kansas City late in the season. Salvador Perez was at third. A line drive was hit and caught and Perez didn’t tag up before coming home to score.

“We knew we couldn’t review tagging up,” Ausmus said. “My argument was, it’s a missed base. He didn’t touch the base and you are allowed to review a missed base.”

Ausmus said while the umpires went to the head phones to call the video headquarters in New York, the play was shown on the giant scoreboard at Kauffman Stadium.

“The entire stadium sees that he never went back to tag up,” Ausmus said. “The umpires are told by New York that it’s not reviewable. But they are also staring up at the video board along with 35,000 other people.

“The umpires ultimately said he was out. But the play was not reviewable.”

The umpires got the call right, though they circumvented the replay rule.

“Truth is, they got it right, but if I was (Royals manager) Ned Yost, I would have been irate,” Ausmus said. “But the person to blame was the person who put it up on the video board. They don’t put it up on the board, nothing changes.”

The second video review Saturday involved the Tigers’ Nick Castellanos, and Ausmus thinks they got that one right, though it went against him.

After Mikie Mahtook doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth, Castellanos hit a ball up the middle that shortstop Anderson made a good play on. It was a bang-bang play at first and Castellanos was called out.

He was certain he’d beat the play and the video angles seemed to support that.

“I didn’t think they were going to overturn it,” Ausmus said. “If they had called him safe, they wouldn’t have overturned that either. It was too close.”

The replay was inconclusive. By rule, to be considered caught, the ball has only to be in the interior of the glove. It doesn’t have to be secured in the pocket.

Ausmus believes the system would be better if those reviewing plays in New York didn’t know the initial call on the field. But he understands the logistics of that, of keeping the umpire out of every replay shot, are problematic.