What would an Orioles-Yankees postseason series be without a dispute over whether or not a hit was a home run? We won't be able to tell you this season as Baltimore's Nate McLouth filled 2012's quota with a long fly ball off CC Sabathia in the sixth inning of New York's 3-1 win in ALDS Game 5 on Friday. The deep drive was ruled foul as it appeared to sail just to the right of the Yankee Stadium foul pole.
On first replay, it appeared that the umpires made the correct call as the ball disappeared behind the pole. But a different replay with a blown up look at the ball and pole show that it may have just grazed it. A call of a home run would have tied the score at one and gone for just the second Orioles hit off Sabathia at the time. The umpires reviewed the play after Orioles manager Buck Showalter protested, but the foul ball call was upheld. And that was probably the right call as the visual evidence was far from indisputable. (The physical evidence also seemed a bit wonky as you'd think the collision between a foul pole and a ball traveling at a decent velocity would produce a more noticeable change in direction.)
"I saw it go to the right of the pole," (right field umpire Fielden) Culbreth said. "There is netting there and it didn't touch the netting. It did not change direction," he added, indicating he did not think the ball grazed the pole.
Added crew chief Brian Gorman: "We saw the same thing on the replay. There was no evidence to overturn the decision."
McLouth said he was satisfied with the umpire's call and Showalter said after the game that he couldn't tell what had happened, either. TBS later sent field reporter Craig Sager out to the right field stands where he fanned the flames by citing an usher who said the ball nicked the pole. But he also borrowed the ball from the fan who caught it to reveal that there was no paint on the cover. How the absence of paint proves anything, I have no idea, but it's all been made a moot point since the lost run would not have made a difference in the final margin.
As for Jeffrey Maier, the famed fan from the 1996 ALCS? He sent the Associated Press a text message after it inquired about his whereabouts. "Just watching at home," it read. "I promise."