Gaby Sanchez's hard ninth-inning grounder past Phillies third baseman Greg Dobbs and down the left-field line should have given the Marlins a 5-4 victory, with Hanley Ramirez cruising toward the plate from second base. Instead, the veteran umpire Davidson called the ball foul -- and stuck to his guns even after watching video (like this) that seemed to indicate to everyone else that he had seen it wrong.
"I have the highest respect for the umpires and I know they're doing their best out there, but that was one of the worst calls I've ever seen in my 30 years of professional baseball," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez told reporters. "That was bad. That ball was a fair ball by six inches. He never even was looking at that play."
Told to return to the batter's box, Sanchez ended up striking out and the Marlins lost the game when they couldn't respond to a Carlos Ruiz homer in the 10th inning.
Unlike fellow ump Jim Joyce, who served up the most notorious umpiring gaffe in decades earlier this season and in the process took a perfect game from the Tigers' Armando Galarraga, Davidson does not have a stellar reputation among major league players and managers. He has been known for years as "Balkin' Bob" for his propensity to make that most nitpicky of calls, the balk.
Opinions of Davidson's work don't figure to move in a positive direction given the call and the way he handled the aftermath, which could not have been in more stark contrast to Joyce's immediate contrition.
"I was right on top of it and it was wide of the bag, that's all. I had it foul," Davidson said. "In my opinion, where it goes over the bag, you can't tell. After a bounce, it came an inch or two on the fair side, but ... it was very close. But I'm right there. I know what I saw."
As did pretty much everyone else who watched it live or in super-slow-motion.
"The ball never landed in foul territory. Dreadful," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said.
And when it comes time to feel sympathy for Loria, you know a serious wrong has been perpetrated.
Anyway, expect the calls for expanded instant replay to ring out again after this fiasco. Rodriguez said he begged Davidson to ask the other umpires on his crew for a second opinion, but Davidson wasn't having it.
"I understand that's the winning run," Davidson said, "but in my opinion it was foul and there's no replay that you can really see what the ball does over the bag -- that's what's important."
So is getting it right.