If you’ve ever watched any sporting event in your life, you just knew.
You just knew that after Phil Cuzzi made one of the most egregiously, unbelievably horrible calls in the history of professional sports — to the detriment of the Twins — that the Yanks would win the game. That’s just the way life works.
I’m not going to waste your time with a recap. Either you know what happened or you don’t.
But suffice to say, Major League Baseball’s long-time policy of instituting left- and right-field umpires for playoff games in order to more effectively determine fair/foul situations is seriously flawed. When an umpire whose sole reason for existing is to determine whether a ball is fair or foul can’t tell, from 15 feet away with no obstruction, that a ball has obviously landed in fair territory, then something is wrong.
Personally, I’ve always felt that umpires have an exceptional amount of leeway when it comes to their decisions, as it relates to other sports. Countless times, a player is incorrectly adjudged out because the ball got to the base first, or vice versa, but no one makes any sort of institutional complaint — maybe, once in a while, the manager will get hot and bothered, but generally it’s accepted as “part of the game”: we may have gotten screwed by a bad call this time, but we’ll benefit from one at some point, so it will all even out in the end.
But this is too much. I have no personal vendetta against Phil Cuzzi, and I’m sure he feels bad about what happened, but as the title suggests, this is absolutely ridiculous. Obviously I’m not the only one to suggest that MLB needs to clamp down on outrageously poor officiating such as this or that this incident single-handedly justifies the expansion of instant replay in baseball. But let me add my voice to the chorus saying that this blown call needs to be the spark for some kind of action — whether it’s Cuzzi’s exclusion from the remainder of the playoffs, the further use of replay, or whatever, this is clearly not “part of the game”.
Twins fans are surely, and justifiably, upset today. And perhaps they’re formulating conspiracy theories about how the Yankees are predisposed to getting favourable calls at home. But ultimately they, like all of us, are staring at this reality: the live, human umpiring system is imperfect, but when it proves itself this imperfect, the impetus presents itself to either replace the specific human, or replace the entire system.
Knowing baseball, systemic change seems highly unlikely. But if Phil Cuzzi has any further part to play in this year’s postseason, then it is a matter of grave concern to all fans of this game.