When the Angels were in New York to play the Yankees in early June, Manager Mike Scioscia, bench coach Dino Ebel and scouting coordinator Jeremy Zoll, who mans the instant replay booth for the team, toured Major League Baseball’s replay command center in Manhattan and spoke at length to officials there.
“It was neat to see,” Scioscia said a few days after his June 5 visit. “You get a little more understanding of how the whole system works.”
But the more Scioscia sees the system in action, the less he thinks it works, his latest frustration sparked by two calls he thought should have been overturned but weren’t in Monday night’s 7-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Angel Stadium.
One call seemed more egregious. Albert Pujols was ruled out at first base on a double-play grounder in the fourth inning, and after a 3-minute, 42-second review, the call was upheld.
It appeared on replays that Pujols’ foot hit the bag a split-second before Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt closed his glove on the ball.
In the ninth, Arizona’s A.J. Pollock hit a fly ball to Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun, who made a strong throw to the plate in an effort to nail Nick Ahmed, who was ruled safe by umpire Bill Miller.
Catcher Carlos Perez’s swiping tag appeared to hit Ahmed in the upper back as Ahmed’s knee slid across the plate, and the call was upheld after a lengthy 4-minute, 50-second review.
Replays seemed, at the least, inconclusive, and Calhoun admitted the call was “too close to overturn.” But both Perez and Scioscia thought Ahmed was out.
“This is frustrating,” Scioscia said. “I don’t know how Pujols was called out. After you look at it, it’s obvious. The play at the plate … we went to the replay facility in New York, and it seems like they have every camera angle, every super slow-motion you need, but we’re seeing, in my estimation, too many calls that aren’t reversed, not only for us but for the other team.
“I know it’s a work in progress, but things need to evolve as far as how calls are made, because there’s no standard for what is going to overturn a call. It comes down to an individual umpire’s interpretation, and that’s why I think things will eventually have to be addressed.”
Scioscia used Monday night’s calls to intensify his lobbying efforts for an independent umpiring crew to man the replay center in New York throughout the season.
Umpires currently rotate through the replay center, an approach Scioscia believes produces “arbitrary guidelines of what is going to overturn a call,” ones that will “vary as long as you have so many guys going through there with a different constant.”
Scioscia was ejected from Friday night’s game against Oakland for arguing with umpires who refused to review a call in the sixth.
Johnny Giavotella was called out after appearing to beat out an infield single, and replays appeared to confirm that Giavotella was safe. But the Angels could not challenge via replay because Scioscia had lost a previous challenge.
“I think it has to get to where you have independent crews that stay in New York and do one thing, evaluate plays,” Scioscia said. “It’s frustrating when calls that are routinely obvious are not getting addressed.”