During Tuesday night's Astros-A's game, Chris Young smashed a ball to deep left field with a runner on first, two outs, and Oakland down by a run. The ball cleared the fence, and the big question was whether or not it was a fair or a foul ball. Third base umpire Doug Eddings ruled it a foul ball, and the umpiring crew went in to check out the replay of the call, deciding whether or not to overturn the call.
It's worth noting that this was the same crew involved with the A's back in May, when they got completely screwed in Cleveland during a replay review of a potential go-ahead homer that was ruled a double. This time, Angel Hernandez was the umpire who remained on the field instead of looking at the replay, so don't blame him.
Anyway, all of the TV replays of the homer bring one word to mind: inconclusive. Did the ball graze the foul pole? Did it miss it by inches? The replays answer either question, and no amount of cameras would be able to solve that dilemma. If you're an A's fan, you can't get too upset. This wasn't a Cleveland situation where a clear home run was ignored. If you want to talk about "shades of gray" and "the human element", this play exemplifies that. You can show the replays to 100 neutral fans, and they'd probably be evenly divided about whether or not the ball clipped the foul pole or not.
I have absolutely no issues with plays like this not being overturned. It's when blatantly obvious calls are missed that we all get really upset. Last night is just another example of things working like they're supposed to. The phrase "indisputable video evidence" is used so often in the NFL when their officials are reviewing replays, and competence generally isn't a question when it comes into play. The umpires in Oakland last night had to make a tough call, and quite frankly, someone was going to be upset no matter what happened. At least those people are upset today because the call didn't go their way, and not because they got completely and utterly screwed.