Maddon in support of expanded instant replay

Maddon in support of expanded instant replay

ST. PETERSBURG -- One day following a controversial ruling on the field after which Rays manager Joe Maddon was not only ejected but any potential Tampa Bay rally foiled, Maddon had a chance to reflect on all that went on.

Even more convinced the initial call was the correct one, and fueled by first-base umpire Joe West's partial admittance of guilt ("We may have erred ..."), Maddon used some time during Thursday's pregame interviews to highlight the importance of expanded instant replay.

Currently, instant replay is used solely for home runs and fan interference, and Maddon was adamant that wasn't enough.

"If you want to incorporate technology, it's just like the ball at the wall in a home run. It's hard to tell," Maddon said Thursday. "To change calls from a distance when you have technology, I think should be considered."

There were runners at first and second and one out when Rays left fielder Sam Fuld hit a chopper up the left side. Toronto third baseman Edwin Encarnacion stepped on the bag for the force, then fired the ball to first for the second leg of the double play.

His throw pulled Adam Lind off first base and up the line, from where he had to spin to tag Fuld.

West originally ruled Fuld safe, which would have again put runners at first and second with two outs. After Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu requested West confer with his crewmates, though, West overturned the call, ruling Lind had tagged Fuld before he reached first base.

For the Rays, who were down 3-1 at that time, the turning point was pivotal and not at all in their favor. Maddon rushed out to argue the call and was tossed. It wasn't until later that West admitted to being confused over second-base umpire Angel Hernandez's answer to the initial question, "Did you have the tag?"

West, apparently, was asking whether Hernandez saw the tag before Fuld reached the bag, while Hernandez figured he was being asked if the tag was applied. West, who readily admitted he didn't see a tag, then took Hernandez's word to mean Fuld was out.

"All I asked Angel was 'Did he tag him?' and Angel told me, 'I thought you had him safe for being on the bag,'" West said Wednesday night. "I didn't heed that warning. I made the judgment based on what I had at first base. So it appears that we may have erred, but we did everything protocol right by the book. I don't know what else we could have done."

Maddon does.

"My point is, if you've got a distance play like that working, it's really hard for anybody to say unequivocally that they absolutely know a tag was applied in advance of the base," he said. "That is a perfect example of how to morph in other plays regarding instant replay. What else can we do with instant replay? There's an example."

Maddon was ejected Wednesday for arguing the overturned call after the umpires' group had convened on the field, not, he said, due to language or disrespect to the officiators. Though the skipper maintained that instant replay would've saved everyone a whole lot of grief, he was also complimentary of how the umpires handled the situation.

"I did hear, I think, that the umpires considered they may have messed the play up, and if that's the case, I have even more respect for them," Maddon said Thursday. "You don't hear that often from officiating crews, whether it's in baseball, basketball or football. When a group comes out and actually says something like that, my respect just jumps for that group.

"It's not easy to admit you're wrong in those moments. It's a profession that they take pride in being right almost all of the time. If in fact that's what was said and they are accountable for that moment, I think that's great and have even more respect for this crew."

Wednesday's incident marked the second time this season the Rays have fallen victim to an overturned call by the second-base umpire regarding a play at first base. During an early-April series at Chicago, umpires first ruled Rays hitter Dan Johnson safe at first base, because pitcher Gavin Floyd juggled the catch.

The play was overturned when the second-base umpire said Floyd had possession.