In an alternate reality created after the 2009 World Series, Major League Baseball implemented instant replay at the start of the 2010 season…
SCENE – Turner Field, Atlanta, 2 a.m., at the end of a 19-inning game
JERRY MEALS is in the REPLAY ROOM with his umpiring crew to review a close play at the plate.
JERRY: When I heard the word "Safe" cross my lips, I thought to myself "What the &*$% are you saying, Meals?!"
CREW CHIEF: Yeah. Believe me, we were all thinking the same thing, Jer. Let's watch the video. We should be in and out of here and we can go back to the game. … (on phone) Pull up the replay.
JERRY: That's the standard above-home-plate view. You see, McKenry gets the swipe across and the leg there. Looked like an olé to me at first, but…
CREW CHIEF: Could still be an olé. (to phone) Let's see another angle.
JERRY: How about that? Lugo really did touch home plate. Good to see. … So here's the centerfield angle. Nice – slo-mo! What the…? Proctor fell down? That's great… You see? There? The tag hits Lugo on the upper thigh. No doubt. I'm an idiot.
CREW CHIEF: I'm sure about that, Jerry. And that looks pretty clear. Glove, leg – looks like the shadow even comes together. It's hardly definitive, though. And you know how Commissioner Bud loves to toss that word around… "DE-FIN-I-TIVE".
CREW CHIEF: Let's just see another angle. It's always better that way. (to phone) How about the high-third base angle?
JERRY: Ooh, this slo-mo is even better. Ok, let's see. McKenry catches the ball 15 feet early. That's good. Lugo goes to slide, right-foot first. McKenry goes to swipe – why is he swiping!? Just tag him clean!… Slow it down here. Lugo's on his butt, McKenry's glove is above his knee… Pause it. You see how you can see some space between the mitt and knee? Now, go forward a tiny bit… the space is gone and McKenry's mitt is touching the knee. See how the pinstripe is covered by the mitt? He's out and I'm an idiot.
CREW CHIEF: Yes, we know… I still think the shot is too far away for ol' Bud. (to phone) Give us the 1st-base camera-well… Fast forward it to the tag…
JERRY: Here we go again. Lugo's getting down to slide… Damn, McKenry's leg is getting in the way. Hope the view is still okay. Slow it down. Ok, now watch between McKenry's legs… There's the swipe. And there! You can see the tag hit Lugo's leg with the tip of the mitt!
CREW CHIEF: I see it. But is that really "definitive evidence"?
JERRY: Absolutely, chief.
CREW CHIEF: I dunno… You see this photo that they just sent down. They say it's the best single frame they can get of the tag…
JERRY: Perfect. Use that.
CREW CHIEF: I see it, I do. Not sure it will convince any doubters, though. You can't tell from that angle if there's any space between the mitt and the leg.
JERRY: Motherf…. That's why you have to watch the video *and* look at the still. It gives a much better sense of the movement of the play. … Listen, chief. He's out. You know it, I know it – and I was the one wrong on the field! Let's just overturn it and keep playing.
CREW CHIEF: Fine. Let's say we do. That's only the second out of the inning. What do we do about the runners? Proctor belly-flopped on the ground two steps out of the box.
CREW CHIEF: Do we just give him first base? What about the guy on first?
JERRY: Well, we've got to, right? No throw was made to get Proctor at first…
CREW CHIEF: Yeah, but that's because you called the runner safe at home and ended the damn game. He would've been out by a mile, and not even you or Joyce could've screwed that one up.
CREW CHIEF: You really made a mess of this one, Jerry…
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