An Historic Game - And Reason for Change
It was so late even Monday Night Football had gone to bed, with the Cinncinnati Bengals the newest team mauled by the machine-like New England Patriots.
But they were still playing baseball, still finishing the major league regular season, in Denver nearly a full day after J.P. Ricciardi had made his final excuses in Toronto.
Four hours and 40 minutes after it started, the Colorado Rockies had beaten the San Diego Padres 9-8 last night in dramatic, comeback style against baseball's all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, ending the longest one-game tiebreaker in major league history in the bottom of the 13th innning.
And emphatically illustrated the desperate need for replay review in baseball.
|Holliday scores! Or does he?|
Matt Holliday, who moments earlier had tied the game with a triple that also won him the National League batting title over Chipper Jones, was credited with the winning run, racing home on a short fly ball by Jamey Carroll with nobody out and apparently using his left hand to touch home plate, thus evading the tag by catcher Michael Barrett.
Or did he?
As Holliday lay behind home plate and Barrett scrambled to pick up the ball, home plate umpire Tim McClelland made no signal. Not safe. Not out. He seemed to simply stare at home plate, seemingly waiting to make the call, seemingly indicating that the play was still alive because Holliday hadn't touched the plate.
Then an instant later, McClelland made the sweeping "safe" sign, and the Rockies were in the post-season for the first time since 1995 after winning 14 of their final 15 games.
"This is why we in uniform, the people in the front office, the fans, love baseball," said a gracious San Diego manager Bud Black. "It's because of games like this."
But as the Rockies danced around the diamond and a woozy Holliday tried to regain his senses, television replays seemed to indicate that Holliday's attempt to touch the plate had been brilliantly blocked by Barrett.
If McClelland sees it that way and Holliday is tagged out, there's
one two outs with nobody on and they're probably still playing.
"The umpire called me safe, that's all I know," Holliday said.
They're been debating replay in baseball for years, and so far there's been no move towards implementing any system.
But surely even a system that decided one thing - did a player touch home plate? - would be simple to implement and logical in a time when football, hockey and baseball all employ some form of review.
To me, it sure didn't look like Holliday touched the plate. If I was a Padre fan - Steve Garvey and those crazy brown uniforms turned me off that team forever - I wouldn't feel at all satisfied with the way the game was decided or the call that was made.
What if it had been Game 7 of the World Series?
Earlier in the game, in the seventh inning with the game tied 6-6, a blast off the bat of Colorado's Garrett Atkins may or may not have cleared the fence for a home run. It was ruled a double, Atkins didn't score and it was another instance in which replay might or might not have been a useful tool for the umpiring crew.
You've got to at least try to get it right. Baseball, after a fabulously dramatic night in the Colorado altitude, should know that for sure this morning.