Clint Barmes dropped the ball!

I got a threshold, here. I got a threshold for the bad karma my team can experience. Now, right now, I’m a race car, right, and the Rockies got me in the red. And I’m just sayin’, I’m just sayin’ that it’s dangerous to have a race car in the red. That’s all. I could blow:

Photos taken by The Denver Post and a spectator in the right-field stands at Coors Field during Sunday’s dramatic 4-3 victory over the Cardinals reveal that second baseman Clint Barmes bobbled the final popup, with one picture showing the baseball on the outfield grass. Barmes rolled on the grass, jumped to his feet and fired to first to double off Albert Pujols to end the game.

But did he catch the ball?

“Only me and Barmes know the truth. It’s the same as (Matt) Holliday touching home plate,” outfielder Ryan Spilborghs said Monday of the controversial slide that clinched the Rockies’ 2007 playoff berth. “It’s better that it’s (mysterious).”

Click through for the pics. The third one down in the most damning.

Albert Pujols’ baserunning mistakes notwithstanding, unless things break just right this week, this whole play shall forever be known as the play that jobbed the Braves out of the damn wild card.

(Thanks to readers puck and salvo for the heads up)

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  1. Kahuna Tuna said...

    Of course, Colorado fans don’t need to be reminded of the controversial play that got the Rockies into the playoffs last time.

    Neither do Padres fans.  . . . Not that we’re bitter or anything.

    We can somehow blame all these blown calls on the altitude or the humidor, right?  </loaded question>

  2. Jack Marshall said...

    You know, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the long-standing baseball tradition of approving players’ faking catches and tags. It’s embedded in baseball culture, and thu isn’t regarded as cheating, but it sure looks, smells, and quacks like cheating. Before television, these things could all be “mysteries,“which had its charm, but we know Holliday never touched the plate, and we know Barmes missed the catch. There’s not much good that comes out of fans knowing they were jobbed, and if it could be worked out practically (don’t ask me how now—I’m going nuts counting other angels on pin-heads), it may be time to make more than just the umpires responsible for getting a game-changing call right…like even the players themselves.

  3. Chris in Dallas said...

    Not only that, but Matt Holliday STILL never touched home plate in the one-game playoff.  It’s an obvious case of Mountain Time Zone bias by the umpires.

  4. Jason B said...

    “The play that jobbed the Braves out of the damn wild card” was giving Frenchy and Schafer so, so many wasted at-bats in the early months of the season, Lowe and Johnson underachieving, and perhaps a hat-tip to losing 5 of 6 to the Reds.  I think the Barmes play ranks #428 on the list of reasons, just ahead of Vladimir Nunez’s 36.00 ERA in 1 inning pitched.

  5. Bob Tufts said...

    And I thought that the Rockies team was a religious group – I guess Holliday and Barmes never attended that part of the baseball chapel services.

    We can’t quantify exactly how the use of steroids altered the results of games (frankly, both pitchers and batters were using, so it probably was close to balancing out). However, replays have shown us clear examples where players knew they dropped the ball or missed home plate and turly affected the outcome of the game right in front of our eyes. Jack, we will soon be heading to limited challenges and instant replay similar to the NFL.

    Chris – the Cardinals and their fans still won’t let go of the Don Denkinger call in Game Six in 1985.

  6. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    Assuming, of course, that (a) Lugo would have scored on the play, which took place with one (1) out and was therefore in a position to have to play it halfway (b) that the Cardinals would have scored an additional run in the inning, i.e. to have taken the lead (c) that the Rockies would not have scored in the bottom of the ninth, i.e. to have either tied or reclaimed the lead.

  7. Jack Marshall said...

    I know, and I hate the thought of replays. But it’s hard for me to distinguish the relative injustices of a foul called a game-changing homer and a hit called a game-changing catch. If its worth getting one right, it’s worth getting the other right too.

    I’m STILL pissed about Larry Barnett’s non-interference call on Ed Armbrister….

  8. Jason F said...

    Let’s all settle down just a minute.

    If the umpire had ruled that Barmes failed to catch that ball, it doesn’t mean that the Cardinals win that game. Lugo would have scored to tie the game, and Pujols would have advanced to third, and Ludwick would have been on first with a single, and there would have been one out. That’s an advantageous situation for the Cards, but the Rockies still had the opportunity to get two outs and win it in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings.

    This was not a situation in which an apparent missed call cost a team a game. A couple weeks ago, Nick Green was granted two balls that were absolutely strikes, and if either one of those had been called correctly the Angels would have beaten the Red Sox. THAT was an ump costing a team a game. This is not.

    Similarly, the 2007 one-game playoff between the Padres and Rockies was not a case of a blown call costing one team a game. If Tim McLelland calls Holliday out at home, the Rockies still have Helton on second with two outs, score tied in the bottom of the 13th. There’s no guarantee or even likelihood the Padres win that game.

    Furthermore, the only reason this is a big deal is that it happened in the final week of the season. Every team—the Braves, the Padres, the Rockies, everyone—is both the benificiary and victim of blown calls throughout the course of a season.

    Also, that incriminating picture of Barmes is Photoshopped. Go Rockies!

  9. Jason F said...

    He was standing on third base when the play was over. He stated after the game that he was positive Ludwick’s bloop would drop for a hit.

  10. Allan said...

    Well…if the ball had dropped, he would have had every right to be on third at the time.  Baserunning error or not, he DID go “from first to third on a shallow popup to RF with one out”

    At the very least, the game did not end when or as it should have.  It was a blown call and one that Braves fans could (though not necessarily should) point to as being one that changed the complexion of the Wild Card race.  Though all this will be moot if they continue on this run and win the Wild Card.


  11. Rob in CT said...

    “You know, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the long-standing baseball tradition of approving players’ faking catches and tags. “

    I’ve always hated that.

  12. Jason F said...

    I agree with most all of what’s been said, with the exception of Go Braves! and video replay.

    This damning evidence of Barmes’ muff did not come from video of the play, it was a fan in the stands with a still camera that became our Zapruder. An expansion in scope of video replay would not have corrected this call.

  13. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    To Jack’s point, Barmes first looked to third when he got to his feet, indicating perhaps that he *knew* he hadn’t caught the ball. However, I can’t agree with the assumption that Pujols would have been safe even if Barmes had come up firing. Sorry, Albert ain’t that fast.

  14. Bob Timmermann said...

    Why didn’t Julio Lugo try to tag up and score? It was a timing play and he could have beaten the throw back.

    At worst, he could have forced the Rockies in to going for a fourth out.

  15. mike in brooklyn said...

    Jack Marshall—your comment reminded me of an essay I read n “Baseball and Philosophy” (it’s part of that Simpsons and philosophy; sienfeld and philosophy; etc series).  It dealt with cheating and why some forms are considered ok (gaylord perry; phantom tags) and others aren’t (steroids; corking the bat).

    I’d tell you what the guy concluded—assuming he even drew any conclusion—but that would require brain cells I’ve long since destroyed.  Or getting off my lazy arse to get the book.

    I recommend it, though.

  16. puck said...

    Nice post, Jason F, on the context of those plays.  The other part about the game vs. San Diego is that the umps blew a call on Atkins’ 7th inning drive, ruling it a double rather than a HR.  If that call is made correctly, who knows if the game would even go to extra innings.

  17. Jason F said...

    @puck:  True on the Atkins play from ‘07. If the current replay system for boundary calls was in in place then, that’s a dinger.

    Dan Iassogna also called Dexter Fowler out at first in the first game of this Rockies-Cards series on Friday night, and replay showed that Fowler was safe by quite a bit. On Saturday night, Iassogna was behind the plate and botched at least two calls—one a called third strike on Jason Giambi (replay showed it was low and inside), and one a checked-swing third strike on Mark DeRosa (replay showed he did not go around). Then on Sunday, shortly before the bloop double play in question, Skip Shoemaker was called out at first on a grounder to shortstop, and replay showed he beat the throw.

    The quality of umpiring in this series left something to be desired, and we’ve talked at length about the overall state of umpiring this season. My point is this: Teams don’t win or lose, or make the playoffs or miss them, based on a call by an umpire. And blaming blue is a loser’s lament.

  18. Dennis Koziel said...

    I was at the Cards/Rocks game on Sunday, two rows from the field, behind home plate.  Despite the fact he probably thought his team was jobbed, I saw Tony Larusa do a very classy thing. He walked over to the Rockies dugout and shake Jim Tracy’s hand.  I’m sure it was to wish him contiued good luck in the playoffs.  Nice to see that any time.

  19. Jason F said...

    Again, Todd, I fully agree with the scope of what you’re saying here. But the Barmes play was really crazy—he was sprinting backwards at full speed, dove, tumbled, and popped up holding the ball. His back was turned to all four umpires, and all four of them were shielded from a view of the ball.

    None of the video cameras broadcasting the game picked up the ball on the grass. None of the press photographers credentialed to cover the game captured it either. The only image that shows the loose ball was shot by a fan, in the stands far up the first base line. If that dude’s shutter clicks one instant later, or if the shadows are different, or if he chooses not to put the pic on his blog, we aren’t having this conversation.

    Of course we all wish that every call was correct, and that every game was decided solely on the merits of the teams playing it. Just because that didn’t happen in this case doesn’t mean that the Rockies are somehow less deserving of the wild card (as some in this thread have suggested) or that their 88 wins to date are now suspect.

  20. Todd said...

    “My point is this: Teams don’t win or lose, or make the playoffs or miss them, based on a call by an umpire. And blaming blue is a loser’s lament.”

    If a team misses the playoffs by a small enough margin, there are all sorts of things you could point to that allowed their opposition to get that extra win or two over them. An example that’s more palatable to those who want to believe that calls “even out” is having a starter or two with really low BABIPs, causing their team to generate a little less offense then they “deserved”. But why couldn’t the same kind of thing happen with umpires? It’s easy to claim that it all evens out, and in the long run, it does, but a single season is not the long run. Umpires CAN be a difference maker, even if they are not the only difference maker. Yes, the team could have just won an extra game or two on their own merits, but it’s not as if they don’t have opponents who are trying their hardest to beat them. If having to also overcome bad breaks from the umpires can be avoided, it should. It’s a cop out to say that teams should just ahve to deal with it.

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