The Nationals couldn’t seem to get on third base during the early innings of Sunday’s ballgame. It was 1-0 Dodgers in the sixth inning when the Nationals put two runners on base. Jayson Werth stepped up to the plate and laced an 0-2 pitch down the line into left field. It was close and called foul by the third base umpire, Gary Cederstrom.
If that ball is fair, and it was fair, Trea Turner is the tail runner and scores a step-and-a-half after lead runner Stephen Strasburg crosses the plate. The Nationals would have taken the lead 2-1, but the ball was (wrongly) ruled foul after a Nationals challenge sent the call to New York.
On the initial play, you can see chalk pop up from where the ball lands. In the wise words of the peanut vendor near me at the time, “If it hits the chalk, it’s fair! That’s the whole point of chalk!”
ESPN had a total of two (very poor) camera angles. However, even they saw that chalk had popped up from the line. Here’s video of that segment:
Fair or foul? You be the judge pic.twitter.com/WjtDzLc5gm— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) September 18, 2017
In that moment, we were all Jayson Werth.
As I watched the replay on the video board at Nats Park, there was an angle showing the ball touched the right side of the line and, for good measure, white dust blew upward from where it bounced. Dusty Baker agreed, saying “On the board up there it looked like it was fair.”
It was a relatively short review, taking only about one minute and fifty seconds from the time the Nationals challenged to the ruling. The call was neither confirmed nor denied, it stood. I think Dusty Baker summed it up pretty well:
“It usually takes them a couple minutes, they didn’t take any time, it’s not like that ball wasn’t close enough to spend more time looking at it ... That was a big play in the game right there.”
Once the review was handed down, everyone was stunned and disappointed:
Later in the game, Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run homer to give the Nationals their first lead of the series. That was enough to win the game, which ended up with a final score of 7-1.
At the time, though, this potential double was a huge play that “New York” got wrong.
There was no time crunch where one umpire was looking concurrently at three or four games. There was a fairly definitive camera angle showing the ball hit the line, yet the only people who saw it were physically in Nats Park. Why? I haven’t the faintest idea, but the replay review center got it wrong.
Sometimes, the best solution is the simplest one. Perhaps the crew chief should have just walked down the foul line to see if there was some white chalk dust sprinkled where it shouldn’t have been.
Audrey Stark is a Contributor at Federal Baseball. You can follow her on Twitter @HighStarkSunday.