WASHINGTON — The Nationals and Trea Turner had one heck of an unlucky spell in Tuesday’s 8-1 loss to the Orioles, with three challenges not going their way upon replay review.
Turner, who was called safe after two stolen base attempts — in the first and third innings — temporarily left the field of play in disgust after watching the second of those calls overturned. Both attempts will go down in the record books as caught-stealing. Entering the game, Turner had been caught stealing only once in 15 previous attempts.
He certainly wasn’t the only person frustrated by the decisions handed down from Major League Baseball’s replay center in New York.
Nationals radio announcers Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler battled their own patience as they watched the events painstakingly unfold, taking several opportunities throughout their broadcast to criticize the current replay review system, which seems to defy baseball’s attempts to speed up the game.
Prior to Turner Singling to Left
“Turner had a swinging bunt infield hit in the first inning and then tried to steal and was thrown out for only the second time this year,” Jageler set the scene in the top of the third. “Here’s the pitch to Trea, curveball low in the dirt. And what the two times have in common: Both times he’s been caught stealing, he was originally called safe, and it took instant replay to get him out.”
“He always looks safe in live speed,” Slowes said, moments before Turner singled to left field against pitcher Kevin Gausman.
“Let’s see if he can steal and make it so obvious that they don’t challenge,” Slowes quipped.
“Well, they may not look to run here down three,” Jageler said. “And Gausman is very good at controlling the running game.”
Turner Attempts to Steal Second Base (Called Safe)
Turner did indeed attempt another steal as Gausman delivered his second pitch to Jayson Werth.
Jageler: “The runner goes! Pitch is low and outside, the throw by [Orioles catcher Matt] Wieters. The tag is… not made. So this time he made it, and they do stay aggressive, even with Gausman’s track record, but the Orioles are on the phone.”
Slowes: “Again, the same type of tag by [Orioles second baseman Jonathan] Schoop, reaching to his left and then reaching back to try and tag him. Turner’s saying this time there was a big gap, that he didn’t get him. Again, angle from first base, it’s hard to tell.”
Jageler: “He might have got him on the foot. Well, he got him on the foot, but his hand was on the base.”
Slowes: “This time, we’ll see. Last time, [Orioles manager] Buck Showalter stepped up out of the dugout and said, ‘Go to the headphones.’ Yeah, I think he got him late, this time.”
Showalter Challenges The Call
Showalter did challenge the call on the field, beginning the nearly three-minute delay of game while the play was reviewed.
“This is what you hate about replay,” Jageler said. “It’s going to take the Orioles forever and a day to figure out if they want to challenge and everybody just standing around staring into the Oriole dugout.”
“If it takes this long for the team to decide, then how long is it going to take the umpires and the replay center in New York?” Slowes wondered. “And Buck Showalter wants to challenge.”
“I think this is something that Major League Baseball needs to change, to tweak the replay system,” Jageler said. “You got 30 seconds. You know, they’ve got a clock on everything. That was over a minute to decide if you’re gonna challenge, and now they’re gonna put the headsets on. And Turner’s talking to Schoop about it. I thought the glove got him on the foot when the hand was on the base.”
As the wait continued, Slowes remarked, “Hopefully the Nationals and Orioles will go one-for-two on these replays, because the Nationals need that man at second. Stuff that’s impossible for the naked eye to see at regular human speed instead of super, super slow-mo. I don’t think he got him on the leg. He missed the leg and caught the toes of the shoe. And every time I think I’m right, you never know with these replays. Turner’s kind of upset about the whole thing, he’s like… He looks disgusted out there with three Orioles around him.”
Turner Heads for the Dugout (Prior to the Decision)
Jageler: “Well, as we said, if he is out. He’s already walking off the field. Why is Turner walking off the field?”
Slowes: “I don’t know why he’s left the field. They haven’t made a decision yet. He thinks he’s gonna be out? Why has he left the field to go to the dugout?”
Jageler: “That’s not helping your cause, if the umpires say, ‘Hey. Uh, Turner thinks he’s out. He’s leaving the field.'”
Slowes: “Well, hopefully they’re not watching that in the replay center in New York. Maybe he’s coming in to get a drink. Nope. He’s going to… I don’t know what he’s doing. Why has he given up on the play?”
Jageler: “Yeah, see, if I’m Trea Turner, you stand out there. Whether you think you’re safe or out, act like you’re safe.”
Slowes: “Now he’s out on the warning track.”
Jageler: “So it took the Orioles a minute to decide whether they want to challenge, and here we go, we’re over two minutes.”
Slowes: “See, when they do time of game, this should be subtracted off time of game.”
Jageler: “If it’s this close, if it takes this long, you gotta keep the call the way it is. This is ridiculous.”
Turner Called Out After Review (Again)
Slowes: “Here come the headsets coming off now. Out again. Out again. Wow. So the only time he’s out is when it’s too fast for anyone to see with the human eye. It’s got to be slowed down super, super slow-mo. Credit Schoop again. How he’s catching these and getting the tag is very quick and amazing. So now two out, nobody on, and the count two-and-O on Jayson Werth. What was the time on that one?”
Jageler: “Seventy-two minutes and fifty-two seconds. What a joke.”
Slowes: “Two minutes and 35 seconds, that was just for the umpires. Fastball, called strike. How long for the Orioles to decide? That was like two minutes.”
Jageler: “Well, yeah. I mean you’re over three and a half minutes total.”
Slowes: “And that counts on the time of the game? That’s ridiculous.”
“I think I’m tired of instant replay altogether,” Slowes went on to say. “Has it made the game better?”
“That didn’t make the game better,” Jageler said, continuing to call balls and strikes all the while. “3-2 to Werth. Ball four, low. So both times, after Turner caught stealing on the instant replay, Werth has drawn a walk immediately following the caught stealing.”
“They talk about pace of game and trying to make the game faster? I think instant replay’s been the biggest detriment to it,” Slowes said, later adding, “I kind of miss an old-fashioned manager-umpire argument anyway, Dave.”
“I don’t think either call would have warranted an argument,” Jageler said. “From Showalter, had it been called safe, I don’t think he would have argued either one.”
“Live speed. Only instant replay would allow you to make that call,” Slowes said. “So if the umpires can be overruled seemingly every play, why do we have umpires? Just have some kind of touch-recognition computer who just call the whole thing.”
Jageler went on to remark about Gausman working at a “very slow pace,” and saved a parting shot for his sign-off as the inning came to a close. “No runs, a hit, a caught-stealing on replay,” he said. “Eight minutes taken off our life. A walk and one man left. We go to the bottom of the third. Orioles three, Nationals nothing on the Nationals Radio Network.”
The Orioles would win one other challenge in the game, prompting several other critiques of the replay system from the announcers. You can listen to that, and their earlier rant, below.
“If you hadn’t already brought us an Alarm.com real-time game alert,” Slowes said in the bottom of the seventh. “I would be telling you right now that the Orioles’ three successful manager challenges in one game, tonight, ties the high in the major leagues this year, done two other times.”
“Remember where you are,” Jageler said.