Arguing Balls and Strikes

Last night during Game 4 of the NLCS the umpires made a shocking call. The Dodgers went into last night leading the Cubs 3-0 in the series, making Game 4 an elimination game. The Cubs had a 3-1 lead going into the 8th inning when Justin Turner hit a solo homerun off of Wade Davis to inch the Dodgers closer to evening the score. Next, Wade Davis walked Yasiel Puig and popped Andre Ethier out to third baseman Kris Bryant. Finally, Curtis Granderson came to the plate (0-3 on the night with 3 strikeouts). Wade Davis seemingly struck him out swinging when Granderson turned to home plate umpire Jim Wolf to argue the call. Next, Jim Wolf calls over the other umpires to talk about the call and eventually overturn it.

At this point Joe Maddon charges the field to argue the call. He is livid telling the umpires that they can’t overturn that call from 90 feet away after the home plate umpire already 636439674019285000-USATSI-10355038ruled it a strike out. (Not to mention they have the replay on the jumbotron at Wrigley showing that Granderson clearly didn’t touch the pitch).  Eventually, after Maddon is ejected from the game, Granderson returns to the plate and Davis strikes him out swinging again. Davis then strikes out Chase Utley to end of the top of the inning. The Cubs go on to win the game 3-2 and stay alive in October.

In this situation no harm came to the Cubs because of the call, but it doesn’t mean it should’ve happened. In MLB Replay rules, you are not allowed to challenge balls and strikes. Batters and managers can argue all they want (see Dustin Pedroia and John Farrell in the Red Sox game 4 ALDS series), but that won’t get the Umps to change their mind. However, in this instance they did in a game where that call just cannot happen. The Umps were lucky that Granderson didn’t get a hit or tie the game.

If MLB starts letting players or coaches challenge balls and strikes the game will never be the same. Human error and the perceived strike zone is apart of the game and while human error needs to be limited (with the use of replay challenges), officials can’t let that extend to the plate. Baseball would not be baseball anyone if a batter could challenge a called strike that was just on the outside edge of the zone. Not to mention an Umpire’s job would become obsolete.

The only positive outcome of this is there will be more playoff baseball as the Cubs and Dodgers go on to a Game 5 in the NLCS at Wrigley.

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