A GRIP ON SPORTS
I am a proponent of replay reviews in all sports. Football, basketball, tennis, hockey and, this year, baseball. But I'm not so sure about the last one. At least the way it is being handled right now. Read on.
• I've held my tongue a bit this year, giving baseball's replay system a little time to find its feet. There have been calls that were worth questioning, but it was early. Give it some time, I thought. But last night there was a play in the Mariners' 3-1 win over Kansas City that illustrated all that is wrong with the system right now. Let's be clear. I'm still in replay's corner, but it's getting tougher to stay there. The play that bothered me began with a seventh-inning wild pitch. With runners on first and second, the ball in the dirt bounced away from the Royals' catcher Salvador Perez. He pounced on it quickly, though, and smartly fired a strike to second base, where Robinson Cano was trying to advance. KC's second baseman, Johnny Giavotella, caught the throw with his left foot in front of the bag. Cano slid in, his toes and balls of his feet hitting Giavotella's foot. Meanwhile, Giavotella began the process of the tag, though it looked in real time as if the glove really didn't hit Cano in the leg or stomach area, but only made contact with Cano's upper chest or hat. Umpire Laz Diaz saw it that way, I guess, and called Cano safe. The Royals' Ned Yost asked for a replay. Nothing wrong with that. The folks in New York would give it a look. And that's where replay in baseball gets dicey. Fair or foul? That's pretty easy. Over the fence or not? Not all that tough. But in this play someone was asked to parse a lot of information, information not readily available on the video. It was obvious Cano's toes and the ball of his foot hit Giavotella's foot. But did his heel come through and hit the bag on the other side of Giavotella's foot? It wasn't clear on the video. If it had, he was safe, just as called. And when did the tag actually occur? In super-slo motion it was impossible to tell, until the glove made contact with Cano's hat, nothing on his body moved. So I focused on the leather straps of Giavotella's glove. If they moved, then the glove had touched. As far as I could tell, they never did, though there was a possibility a tag occurred just above the "Mariners" on Cano's uniform. All of this was conjecture of course, because the bag concealed some things and the angle of the cameras didn't reveal much more. So what should have the ruling been? In fairness, it should come down to a high standard, like football's old indisputable video evidence before overturning the decision of the umpire on the scene. But that doesn't seem to be the case. The call was overruled and Cano was called out. And baseball may have lost another strong voice for replay – mine. But maybe that's the plan. Baseball really doesn't want replay. Maybe the idea is to chip away at the public's confidence in the system one call at a time until there is a clamor to get rid of a system that isn't working. Too Machiavellian? Probably. But it about as clear a possibility as last night's call.
• WSU: There were a few happy Cougars last night, ready to begin their dream of an NFL career after the draft was done. Jacob Thorpe has blog posts on lineman John Fullington signed with the Packers and kicker Andrew Furney was invited to the Hawks' mini-camp. ... John Blanchette has a column on a Cougar coach who has lived his dream, track's Rick Sloan (pictured). Sloan is retiring at the end of the season. ... His multievent athletes are already competing in the Pac-12 championships. ... The Cougars held off Utah, 4-2, in baseball last night.
• Idaho: Running back James Baker signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Josh Wright has details in this blog post.
• Preps: We have a roundup we can pass along on spring playoff action.
• Seahawks: So the 2014 NFL draft is over. The Hawks made enough trades to fill out a usual roster of draft picks, then went out and signed a handful of free agents. One of those free agents is UW quarterback Keith Price. ... So how did the Hawks do? Pete Carroll and John Schneider can talk all they want, but we won't know for a couple years yet. However, with the Hawks' recent track record, one could assume they did well. ... Kam Chancellor, who had hip surgery, should be ready for camp.
• Mariners: I've always liked Chris Young (pictured). A tall right-hander who throws more like a little lefty, all breaking balls, changeups and located fastballs. What's not to like about that? Now that's he's one of the M's most effective starting pitchers, I like him even more. ... By the way, the play I describe above had nothing to do with the outcome, thank goodness. ... The M's are trying someone new at the top of the lineup again. ... Speaking of controversial decisions, how about this one in Yu Darvish's near no-hitter. ... The comeback by the M's Clinton franchise is all the talk this week. ... Time for a power ranking.
• Hey, it's Mother's Day. There are some really pretty flowers sitting on our dining room table right now. You know what I like about flowers? That safe feeling they give me. I've done my duty. Now I'm going to give you a duty. Start putting together your stories about sports and your dad. We're going to use them on Father's Day. Until later ...