MIAMI – Instant replay might not have changed the call that cost the Florida Marlins a game.
The Marlins were still shaking their heads Friday about the decision, made Thursday night after third-base umpire Bob Davidson ruled a sharp grounder by Gaby Sanchez was a foul ball rather than a game-winning RBI hit in the ninth inning against Philadelphia.
After watching a replay, Davidson insisted he had the call correct.
"That's the part that really gets me," Marlins third baseman Wes Helms said. "Whoever has talked about it has said it's clearly a fair ball. It's pretty much him against everybody else."
With no replay angle showing conclusively whether the ball passed over the third-base bag — which would make it fair — observers were left to dissect the path of Sanchez's grounder. It bounced on the foul line before reaching the base, then bounced inside the line behind third.
Despite those hops in fair territory, Davidson ruled the ball foul.
"How could he call it foul when the ball landed fair just before it went into the outfield grass?" Marlins third base coach Joe Espada said. "That was what I couldn't figure out."
Hanley Ramirez was at second base, poised to race home with the winning run. Instead, the Marlins failed to score in the inning, and the Phillies — in the thick of the NL playoff race — won 5-4 in 10 innings.
Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez pleaded for Davidson to consult with the rest of his crew about the call, but the umpire declined. Rodriguez said he became so angry he cursed at Davidson.
"For less than what I did, I've been thrown out in the minor leagues," said Rodriguez, a first-year big-league manager. "The fact he didn't throw me out gave me a reason to believe he knew he was wrong."
The episode renewed debate about replays in baseball. Partly in jest, Helms said he changed his mind about the use of video review by umpires.
"I've always been against it," Helms said, "but dang, it cost us the game — I'm for it. ... A lot of games could be changed because of it. You want the right call, because it will be a fair game."
Rodriguez said replay should be used on any call with the game on the line. But as Davidson noted, camera angles leave room for debate about the kind of ruling he had to make.
"There's no replay that you can really see what the ball does over the bag, and that's what's important," the umpire said. "But I know what I saw."