Sunday, November 1, 2009

Instant replay: A-Rod makes history again

Let's play a game. When did Alex Rodriguez say the following?

“There’s probably 800 players in the big leagues. The odds of me doing something controversial is 2-1. Somehow I find myself in these situations all the time. It’s just good to get the right call.”

After Game 3 of the World Series when the umpires reversed a call with the first use of replay in World Series history and changed an A-Rod double into an A-Rod home run?

Or, when umpires confirmed a call with the first use of instant replay in baseball history and upheld an A-Rod home run?

Which one? A or B?

The answer is B, and it occurred Sept. 3, 2008 at Tropicana Field.

Here is what I wrote that night ...

The historic moment occurred Wednesday at Tropicana Field in the ninth of the Yankees 8-4 victory against the Rays.

Rodriguez turned on a fastball from Troy Percival and drove a towering fly ball down the left field line that hit the D-Ring catwalk beyond the left field foul pole. It bounced off the ring in foul territory. The question was whether the ball was in fair territory.

Third base umpire Brian Runge emphatically called the ball fair.

Rays catcher Dioner Navarro threw his mask and helmet on the ground in protest. Rays manager Joe Maddon emerged from the dugout and asked the umpires if they would want to take a look on the new 19-inch flatscreen TV installed last week in a room behind the visitor’s dugout.

“The threat of us getting into the playoffs motivated this to happen sooner, because this is a tough building,” Maddon said.

The foul poles do not extend high enough to reach the past he catwalks and the baseball tends to get lost in the white background.

Umpires Jerry Lane, Charlie Reliford and Runge went to view the replay, while home plate umpire Greg Gibson remained on the field.

They emerged 2 minutes, 15 seconds later, and Reliford twirled his right index finger, giving the signal for home run.

“A fair ball is fair when it leaves the playing field. That’s why the foul poles are up there to help us. We have it going right over the pole, all four of us had it going right over the pole on the field. And our views of the replays confirmed that. It was not inconclusive. It was conclusive that Brian’s call was correct.”

The first official use of instant replay in baseball history involved the often controversial Alex Rodriguez, and the first use of instant replay in World Series history involved A-Rod. Surprised?

Makes what Johnny Damon said that night at Tropicana Field prophetic.

“I’m sure he’s going to be a part of more of these,” Damon said. “He’s got nine more years left on his contract."

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