|Rockies think umpires missed Atkins' 'homer' before lucky payback in 13th inning|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 02 October 2007 10:03|
Garrett Atkins hit what the Rockies argued was a line-drive homer in the seventh inning Monday night, but umpires Fieldin Culbreth and Tim Tschida quickly ruled the ball hit the yellow railing on the left-field wall and bounced back into play.
That left Atkins with a standup double and the Rockies with a 6-5 lead, which they squandered an inning later, setting the stage for five more tension-filled innings before Colorado won on another confusing call.
Fans in the left-field bleachers argued Atkins' drive hit a fence above the yellow outline and caromed back onto the field, which would make it a home run.
So did Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who counts four times this season and twice last year that his team was robbed of home runs, these controversial calls making him baseball's biggest proponent of instant replay.
Why not do what the NBA and NFL have done, he argues, in allowing today's technology to help settle such disputes? He contends it wouldn't delay games, as critics suggest, but actually shorten them because there wouldn't be any drawn-out arguments on the field such as there was Monday night in the wild-card tiebreaker at Coors Field.
Hurdle stood 10 feet away, his arms folded, as the six-man umpiring crew gathered to review the call before upholding it and dispersing as the incredulous manager retreated to his dugout.
Crew chief Ed Montague told The Associated Press following the Rockies' 9-8 win that all six umpires agreed ``it hit the yellow pad and came back. The yellow pad was in play. (Hurdle) said it was over. But we looked at that and there's no way it went over.
``We got together on that play and all six of us had the same thing. We had the ball hitting the yellow pad and shooting out,'' Montague said. ``Unless you're 100 percent somebody's got that different, you're not going to change it. That's what the six of us had.
``As we came in and looked, we got it right.''
Actually, even in slow motion, it wasn't conclusive, so it's debatable whether instant replay would have helped solve this particular riddle.
Such scenarios have become old hat to the Rockies.
On May 5, Atkins had a hit that was ruled a double although it cleared the wall in Cincinnati, and two days later in St. Louis the same thing happened to Troy Tulowitzki. On Sept. 10, Yorvit Torrealba's grand slam in Philadelphia was reduced to a double in a game the Rockies lost 7-5.
Atkins didn't really have a take on this latest long-ball labyrinth.
``I was running, so I didn't get a look at it,'' he said. ``You'd like to think it would be a homer, that we get one of those calls to go our way. Luckily it turned out that it didn't matter. The guys came up with three runs in the 13th to take it from them, so it was good.''
Even then, plate umpire Tim McClelland's delayed safe call was debatable - Holliday never appeared to touch home plate before catcher Michael Barrett retrieved Brian Giles' throw and tagged the slugger who was splayed on the ground, his chin bleeding and his head dazed from the headfirst dive.
Holliday said he couldn't recall touching the plate ``but the umpire said I did.''
So, we're even, suggested Tulowitzki.
``One big thing for us was Garrett's ball was obviously a home run,'' Tulowitzki said. ``And then for us not to get down right there and be like, 'You know, we kind of got screwed,' was big. We stayed with it and got some runs.''
And evened the debatable calls at one apiece.
McClelland wasn't available for comment after the game, and Montague had this to say about whether Holliday's hand swiped the plate: ``I believe he did, yeah. I'm at first base.''
So, he didn't have a great vantage point.
Brad Hawpe, who was on deck, did. And he was frantically motioning for Holliday to scramble to the plate before Barrett could retrieve the ball, which had arrived just as Holliday's left hand smashed into Barrett's left foot.
``Touch the plate!'' Hawpe yelled.
Holliday, who lay face-down after cutting his chin, couldn't.
``I was dazed,'' the MVP candidate explained.
Barrett picked up the ball and tagged Holliday, then looked at the umpire.
``It looked to me like he got home plate,'' Padres manager Bud Black said.
It looked that way to McClelland, too.
``The umpire called me safe, that's all I know,'' Holliday said. ``I don't even know what happened on the play, to tell the truth.''
He's certainly not alone.
``Either way, we won the game,'' Atkins said. ``So, it really doesn't matter at this point. It's more fun to celebrate at home plate than it is on the pitcher's mound anyway.''