I’m sure Sara Sanchez won’t mind if I take a page from her Sara’s Snapshots series.
That’s probably the worst time of night to have this sort of thing happen. As you can see by the Dodger Stadium clock, it’s 6:28 p.m. local time. Sunset in L.A. Saturday was 8:08 p.m. The stadium is mostly engulfed in shadow, but it’s too early for the lights to have taken hold and provide more illumination for the players... and the umpires.
Here are four screenshots from the clip above. One thing you will notice is that third-base umpire D.J. Reyburn is standing straddling the foul line, about halfway between third base and the 330-foot sign. That’s exactly the right place for him to be to make a call like that. He’s no more than 120 feet or so from the baseball.
It’s hard to see, which is why I have helpfully put a red circle on that image, but the white streak in the red circle is the ball on its downward trajectory.
Now look at it:
And here, it’s just about to cross BEHIND the foul pole:
It is not physically possible for a baseball to be on a trajectory like that and not be in fair territory. On this last screenshot, you don’t see the ball at all. Why? There’s only one possible answer to that question: Because it’s behind the foul pole!
Again, look where Reyburn is. He’s in perfect position to make the call. And he makes a definitive call! First, he signals “fair ball”:
Then, he puts his hand in the air and twirls it, indicating “home run”:
Why Reyburn then felt he had to consult with the other umpires — none of whom had as good a look at the ball as he did — is beyond me. Had Reyburn’s call not been reversed by one of the other umpires, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts would likely have asked for a review. But at that point, since the call on the field would have been “home run,” it likely would have been ruled “call stands.”
The umpires have been doing a lousy job this entire series. Three calls were overturned Thursday when Reyburn was at first base. The ball-and-strike calls have been atrociously bad on occasion — check out this Patrick Wisdom at-bat from the first inning Saturday:
Pitch 4 was called “strike three.” As you can see, it wasn’t a strike. Neither was pitch 3, which was also called a strike.
Back to Heyward’s home run — this is what replay review is for, to correct umpiring mistakes on the field. The mistake made here was the overruling of Reyburn by someone who didn’t have as good a look at the play. If MLB’s review crew has angles that the Fox broadcast didn’t show, we ought to get a look at them.
Since we don’t have those, all the evidence we do have points to Heyward’s ball being a home run. If that’s properly called, the Cubs likely lead 3-2 going to the last of the ninth and Craig Kimbrel is pitching instead of Keegan Thompson. The game might have ended up in a Cubs win.
We’ll never know, of course. But the way I see that play, it’s a home run for Heyward.