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MLB has got to do something about missed ball-and-strike calls

... before it costs a team a postseason game.

Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Situation: It’s the top of the 11th inning of Game 2 of the ALCS between the Yankees and Astros. The game is tied 2-2. There are two out and the Yankees have runners on first and second with Gary Sanchez at bat. The count is 1-2 and Sanchez has fouled off four straight pitches from Astros reliever Josh James.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

The first pitch in that video was in the dirt. Sanchez swung and missed and the ball got away from Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos, who immediately got up and ran to get the ball, presumably to throw out Sanchez trying to get to first base on the dropped third strike.

But Sanchez did not run. Why? Because plate umpire Cory Blaser had yelled, “Foul!”

It wasn’t a foul ball. Sanchez’ bat never touched the ball, and you could see that even before replays confirmed it.

This was bad call number 1. With a foul ball called, play continued.

Sanchez was called out on strikes on James’ next pitch. Oh, Cory Blaser. You got that one wrong, too:

Pitch 10 is the one in question, and it’s way off the plate. If that graphic doesn’t convince you, maybe this screenshot from the video will:

That’s not even close to being a strike.

Baseball players and managers cannot complain about these horrendous calls. If they do, they will wind up ejected from games, although umpires generally give a bit more leeway for that in postseason games given the impact of such games.

I’m going to repeat a suggestion I made here last August that would at least partly address this issue. Managers should be given two challenges to ball-and-strike calls each game. In practice, they’d likely save them for the late innings, or at least for critical situations in which a rally could be kept going — or stopped, depending on which manager is asking for the challenge.

In the case of the plays from Sunday night’s game, the first one probably could not be challenged. What are you going to do in that case? Since Blaser called “Foul!”, Sanchez didn’t run. That play would probably simply have to be ruled “dead ball,” and play would have continued as it did in the actual game.

But on that second pitch? Aaron Boone almost certainly challenges that call and it would have been overturned, thus becoming ball 2 on Sanchez. Does that change the result of the at-bat? We’ll never know, but it would have at least given Sanchez one more pitch to see. Maybe he gets a hit and the Yankees take the lead. Maybe James strikes him out anyway.

The results of games, particularly playoff games, should not hinge on what one man sees when everyone else in the ballpark and watching the game on TV can see that man was wrong. There’s a way to fix this. MLB should do it.


Two ball-and-strike challenges per game...

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    Great idea! Get it done, MLB!
    (210 votes)
  • 31%
    No way! Things are fine the way they are
    (95 votes)
305 votes total Vote Now