After last night’s game ended – like, immediately after last night’s game ended – Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez took to Twitter to express some displeasure:
— Adrián González (@Adrian_ElTitan) October 20, 2016
I certainly understand the impulse. We’ve all been there with our finger hovering the button, knowing that clicking it will feel so damn satisfying in that moment.
But that was a Tweet that was probably best saved as a draft, and then ditched in the morning.
Circling back. Here’s the play that bothered Gonzalez. It came on an Andrew Toles single to right field, and a Jason Heyward throw to the plate:
Heyward’s demeanor suggested he didn’t expect Gonzalez, who is not a strong runner, to be sent on the play. The throw was not perfect, but it was very strong. Willson Contreras made a quick play to get back to the plate with the tag, and, live, it looked like he’d gotten there just before Gonzalez.
Then, the long review process.
The problem with reviewing that play, as Gonzalez’s picture actually shows, is that you can’t tell exactly when his fingers touched the plate, as opposed to hovered just above it. Although my pessimistic gut told me the play would be overturned, I genuinely think the crew got this one right under the replay rules: the call on the field was out, and you cannot “definitively conclude” that the call on the field was incorrect. It’s a standard that too many casually throw away when watching a replay in service of instead just trying to make their best guess. That’s not the rule. Can’t tell for certain when watching the replay? Then the call stands. The end.
In this instance, it meant the end of an inning and an early threat for the Dodgers, and I do think it’s correct to say you don’t know how things would have gone if that run had scored. Maybe the Dodgers add a couple more in the inning. Maybe it throws off the Cubs’ pitching plans entirely. Maybe Ben Zobrist doesn’t bunt in the 4th inning with the Cubs down a few runs. The butterfly’s wings are huge on that one, and I’m not going to say that this call didn’t matter since the Cubs won by eight runs. We just don’t know.
Instead, I’ll hang my hat on the fact that it was an incredibly close play, and had it been called the other way on the field, it would have stood, as well. But Heyward made a good enough throw, Contreras made a quick enough tag, and home plate umpire Angel Hernandez made his call.