In the 2014 season, MLB made a much-needed change in the rules of baseball. The video replay system was expanded and made to help call the split-second calls that sometimes a quick glance can’t catch. The move was made after fans, players, and organizations called for a better way to judge these calls. Since then you would think that there would be less margin for error, right? Well, it isn’t that simple. There is still a human aspect to these replays, as the head umpire has to review the video evidence and produce a call from it. This is where the problem arises. Most of the time there isn’t the “right angle,” or the footage isn’t clear enough for the right call to be made. This was most evident in game 4 of the ALCS.
In the bottom of the first inning, after the Red Sox put up 2 runs in the top of the inning, Jose Altuve hit a deep fly ball to right field. As right fielder Mookie Betts went back to attempt a catch, the ball dropped to the ground after what was called as interference from the fans. This was a great chance for the replay system to find out what really happened and get the call right.
The Astros challenged the call and the video was reviewed by the umpires. The rules in a situation like this say that if a spectator goes over the fence to interfere with a batted ball, the runner is out, or if the fielder goes past the fence in the opposite direction, it is fair game for fans to interfere since it is out of the zone of play. All the video had to do was to show where Betts’ glove was when he attempted the catch, in play or out. In today’s age when there are cameras everywhere for broadcasting, this should be an easy feat. As the videos played, it became clear that there wasn’t a proper angle to see what really happened.
The one video that could have potentially shown the angle needed was unusable as a security guard leaned in front of the camera to catch his own view of the action. The other shots aren’t able to clearly depict where the glove was when the catch was attempted, which results in Altuve being called out and the interference stands. This takes away a potential tying 2-run shot for the Astros, or at the very least, a ground rule double. Altuve is clearly disappointed and George Springer, who was standing on first base, slammed his helmet on the ground after the call.
The fan in question requested security to escort him out as he knew that his actions caused a potential 2 run homer to result in an out and a 2 run loss for the Astros. Hopefully, the fan had a little less of a hard time than previous interference situations like Bartman and the Cubs. This is the point where MLB needs to once again figure out a way to get the right angles or calls completed with a review system that comes up short, time after time.