If you watched the sixth inning of Sunday's White Sox game, you saw one of the most perplexing calls in quite some time.
And I don't think I've ever been more instantly confused by a ruling on the field than I am by that one.
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Here's the situation: On a 1-2 count with runners on base, Alejandro De Aza appeared to check his swing on a Robbie Ross pitch and the ball hit either De Aza's hand or the bat. Initially, home-plate umpire James Hoye awarded De Aza first base but was then overruled, at which point De Aza was called out.
Out? Wait, what?
At least it should've been a foul ball and De Aza still bats. Instead, he's out? The replay showed that he clearly checked his swing and that the ball hit something -- the bat or his hand.
Baseball cannot have a process that leaves the fans watching at home or in person more perplexed than they were before the replay occurred. I'll ask you this: As an observer, do you have any amount of confidence that the review will end in a result you can predict?
I can safely say that, more often than not, even with the benefit of slow-motion replay I have absolutely no idea what the decision of most reviews will be. And even after the inevitable baffling conclusion is reached, we might have to wait until the end of the game to get a detailed clarification, if we get one at all.
On this particular play, it was almost a full two innings before those details were given to the viewer, and I still don't understand the call. I've seen the replay a dozen times, and I don't know how they reached the conclusion that De Aza offered at the pitch. It really wasn't close.
Obviously, the check swing itself is not reviewable, so the White Sox were hoping the replay would show De Aza was hit by Ross's pitch.
On the play in question, it's clear the umpires screwed up, but the addition of replay into the mix didn't add any satisfactory feeling of closure to the play. The whole thing was a mess. Unfortunately, this already has happened around the game far too often in the first three weeks of the season.
If MLB officials want this system to have any credibility, the process can't leave us with dumbfounding outcomes. We can see the play and the replays for ourselves, so it's probably not a good thing for the integrity of the procedure if it leaves us often saying, "what are they seeing that I'm not?"
I know that I rarely feel this way while watching football. In order for this thing to work, people need to have faith in the system.
At a minimum, they're going to have to find a way to let umpires explain to the crowd and those watching on TV how they reached such a conclusion, and they should do so immediately after the ruling.
Humans invented microphones and speakers a long time ago, and all ballparks are equipped with them. Baseball might want to start there.
• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com.