Clint Barmes' Amazing Catch May Not Have Been a Catch at All
If you haven't seen it yet, Clint Barmes' catch Sunday afternoon seemed to be one of those things that makes September baseball great. It was a fantastic catch that preserved a slim lead, keeping the Rockies 2 1/2 games up in the NL wild-card race and preventing the Dodgers from clinching the NL West. The play came at such a dramatic juncture that T.J. Simers' column in the Los Angeles Times hinges on it.
The only problem is that Barmes may not have actually caught the ball. On The Denver Post's Rockies blog today, Nick Groke publishes a picture taken by a Post photographer which shows the ball popping out of Barmes' glove as the second baseman falls to the ground and another picture which makes it appear as if the ball is on the ground.
Watching the replay closely, it's almost impossible to tell if Barmes holds on to the ball or if he scoops it off the ground in one motion as he rolls over. I haven't seen a better angle replay, though if one exists I doubt the Rockies or Major League Baseball would be all that eager to let the public see it.
There's certainly a lot riding on that catch. As I mentioned above, a loss would've put the Braves within 1 1/2 games of the Rockies with a week of baseball left and it's not hard to imagine a scenario where Atlanta falls a game shy in the wild-card race this year.
Given the Rockies' recent history of getting favorable late-season calls, the question of whether this play is more evidence that baseball should expand its instant replay review system immediately arises. Without the existence of a definitive replay that shows Barmes dropping the ball on the ground, it's hard to use this instance as evidence.
When I saw the play Sunday night without knowledge of these pictures, I didn't question the catch at all -- no matter how hard I squinted at the replay, I couldn't really figure out what was happening.
Even with an extensive replay review system like the NFL utilizes, the play couldn't be overturned on the field without actual video evidence that Barmes dropped the ball. Without that, there's not anywhere to go with the "If there was replay ..." hypotheticals.
I guess we can just consider this another lucky late-season break for the Rockies.