A’s lose first replay challenge in franchise history

O.CO COLISEUM — Bob Melvin has made Oakland A’s history. Well, Melvin, catcher Derek Norris, and a handful of MLB umpires, anyway.

Triggering the team’s first replay review, the A’s manager challenged a play at the plate in which there was insufficient evidence to reverse the ruling that Norris was tagged out.

Just shy of five minutes went by with the crowd booing before officials in New York returned with an official ruling.

On the review, Melvin said:

“I got a late call on it, and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get it off. It’s pretty clear that unless it’s obvious, they’re not going to overturn it, because we had it as safe. It was close, but we had him as safe.”

Under new rules, each team gets one replay per game, with an extra being gifted should that team win the first challenge.

It’s one of many rule changes ushered in this season, along with one that precludes a catcher from blocking home plate, meant to prevent injuries.

The crew chief held an “umpires review” during opening night, after Cleveland manager Terry Francona argued that A’s catcher John Jaso had violated the “Buster Posey rule” of blocking the plate without possession of the ball.

Though it has yet to happen, there remains a possibility that managers could use the new challenge provision in a strategical manner.

For instance, imagine a pitcher is on a roll, carving up batters with prejudice. A manager could challenge any number of plays just to ice the pitcher. It could be particularly useful if a power threat was coming up to bat.

Perhaps that sort of thing might not happen until October, or when teams are playing close games against division rivals vying for a playoff berth.

The idea of replay reviews in baseball was controversial, to say the least, with games already spanning well over three hours.

Last season, one Oakland night game went well into the wee hours of the morning, finishing in the 19th inning. Imagine if Brandon Moss hadn’t hit the game winning home run then, and instead, it was reviewed and overturned.

It might be a sports writer’s worst nightmare, but real: 3 a.m. and still on deadline.


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