It has many names; long fly, going yard, country mile, moon shot, dinger, tater, and in 1986 when Dave Henderson joined the Boston Red Sox he encouraged new teammate Jim Rice to “Pump some Citgo” as Rice took swings in the batting cage.
The red Citgo pyramid stands close to 1,000 feet from home plate, but it’s the pumping that counts not the distance; eye on the prize. Fenway is one of the greatest places to see a home run; whether in person or on TV. The ball disappears into blue skies or dark night; looking like a shooting star. No balls hit above a line and bounce back onto the field as home runs.
The batter’s trot does not come to a sudden stop. His hands don’t go up in the air. The stadium doesn’t deflate. The umpires don’t walk with serious faces into the clubhouse and consult with god on the instant replay. That innocent little line adds confusion and thinking and debate and discussion. Did the ball hit above or below?
We’re stadium architects preoccupied with the size of a swimming pool or some other carnival like ride in the concourse? Was Bud Selig too busy praising his own legacy? Or maybe it was conspiracy. Build bad home run walls so instant replay can rule the baseball world.
The home run will never be perfect. Even at Fenway, seats were added just beyond the green Monster. The risk of a Steve Bartman fan reaching over and messing with the ball’s flight is now greater. There is also the issue of balls sailing above the foul pole.
Instant replay on home runs were introduced in September, 2008. And this season, the replay will be included on other plays like trapped balls, close plays at the plate, did the runner leave early on a potential sac fly? I think it’s a good thing. Managers get one challenge per game and win an additional one if the first ruling is overturned. It adds another chess movie to a manager’s arsenal.
The home run will still be up for review as many times as necessary during a game. It’s up to the umpires or a managers ability to persuade them to check.
I’ve changed my mind about the painted line. It adds an additional distinction between a home run and a HOME RUN. It’s well worth the wait for everyone involved. The batter can stop and admire his creation. The fans can do their ooohs and ahhhs and the pitcher, well,…there is no place to hide out there on that lonely mound; no false hope that instant replay might bring that ball back. It’s outta here. It’s been Butlered and taken for a ride.