In the ninth inning of the Game 2 of the NLDS in Atlanta, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis worked a walk off Braves shutdown closer Craig Kimbrel. Shortly thereafter, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly summoned Dee Gordon to pinch run for Ellis.
There was one out, and Gordon represented the tying run of a 4-3 game. Every onlooker knew he was running. On the 1-0 pitch to Andre Ethier, Gordon indeed took off. Braves catcher Gerald Laird threw it on a line, and Andrelton Simmons applied the tag. Out(!), declared second base ump Bill Miller.
After a moment of utter disbelief ...
Gordon trotted off the field, and Kimbrel proceeded to strike out Carl Crawford and tie the series at 1-1.
But was he out? The TBS broadcast team was conflicted. So was social media. So, it turns out, was the slow-mo replay ...
If this had happened in 2014, then Mattingly no doubt would have used one of this replay "challenges," and those tasked with reviewing the play almost certainly would've let the play stand on grounds of "not enough evidence to overturn." In other words, we don't and never will know whether Gordon was out. By extension, we don't know how Game 2 would've played out had Gordon been called safe. Which he may have been. Or not.
Like anyone else, I all but make a fetish out of pointing out when an expanded replay system would've corrected a blown call, particularly in a high-leverage situation like this one. But sometimes, this game of inches becomes a game of hairsbreadths, and not even the technology of two thousand and thirteen can tell us what we desperately need to know.
Even though this call mattered very, very much, nothing can tell us whether it was right or not. That's still going to be the case no matter how much replay expands its reach.