Home plate umpire Jerry Meals, left, ejects Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Boston Monday night. The Rays won 2-1.
BOSTON — Boston manager John Farrell is certainly on-board with expanding the use of replays in baseball after an admitted blown call cost the Red Sox the potential tying run in a loss a night earlier.
Speaking to reporters at Fenway Park on Tuesday night about three hours before Boston opened a three-game series against Seattle, Farrell said he believes that with better technology baseball can get more “out or safe” calls correct.
Trailing by a run in the eighth inning of a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday, pinch-runner Daniel Nava was called out by home plate umpire Jerry Meals attempting to score on a fly ball. After watching the replay, Meals later admitted to a pool reporter from the Associated Press that he was “wrong on my decision.”
Major League Baseball is looking at a vast expansion of video review by umpires for the 2014 season and is examining whether all calls other than balls and strikes should be subject to instant replay.
Currently, baseball uses replay only for home runs, but Farrell thinks the game would be better served by expanding its use.
“In plays like last night, I think it furthers the debate,” he said. “I’ve always felt that the advances in technology, how it’s come into the game, there’s no reason to think that it can’t be used to a greater extent without prolonging the time of the game, particularly on plays that are not continual plays. That was out or safe. There’s really no other continuance, such as a play that’s in the gap with multiple men on and less than two outs.”
The use of replay has been in place for home run calls since August 2008. Commissioner Bud Selig initially wanted to add trap plays and fair/foul calls down the lines for 2013, but change was put off while more radical options were examined.
In Monday’s game, replays showed that Nava slid into the top portion of the plate before Rays catcher Jose Molina came across to make the tag. Farrell and Nava argued, with Farrell getting ejected.
About 25 minutes after the game, standing in the umpire’s room, Meals said: “What I saw was Molina blocked the plate and Nava’s foot lifted. But in the replays, you could clearly see Nava’s foot got under for a split second and then lifted, so I was wrong on my decision. From the angle I had, I did not see his foot get under Molina’s shin guard.”
With the loss, the Rays retook first place in the AL East, jumping over Boston to grab a half-game lead.
The same umpiring crew was in town for the series opener against the Mariners.
Farrell just wants to see the calls made correctly and understands that the lengthening of games is an option that the league is likely trying to avoid.
“I know it’s an ongoing conversation with the commissioner’s office and those that are on the field committee,” he said. “How it’s ultimately implemented, I think that’s the challenge in all of this. I know there’s a lot of sensitivity in the overall time of game to not slow things down. In situations like last night, I think the most important thing and the overriding thing is to call things the way they should be.”
When discussing the options other professional leagues use, Farrell even had a solution.
“I think there’s a limit to how many times you can challenge a call,” he said.
When asked if “once” would be OK with him, he said: “I’d be in favor of it.”
The first-year Boston manager even had an idea.
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