October 20, 2011
For the first eight innings of the World Series, the newfangled infrared "Hot Spot" camera Fox debuted Wednesday night proved itself useless. Even Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver found the device to be "weird."
Unless, that is, you enjoyed the trip down '80s sci-fi movie memory lane, when the camera showed occasional heat-seeking images reminiscent of the aliens in "They Live," along with the "Predator" night vision from, um, "Predator." And that one shot of Lance Berkman's(notes) active armpits in the sixth. Never let them see you sweat, Puma.
Until the ninth inning came and, with one out, Adrian Beltre(notes) of the Texas Rangers hit a chopper to third that he claimed had bounced off his left foot — which would make it a foul ball. Only, none of the umpires saw it that way, even after Beltre and manager Ron Washington argued, so he was out. St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Motte(notes) retired the next batter as well, and his team had a 3-2 victory in Game 1.
Regular ol' replay often is good enough — but not always — when it comes to checking who was right on close calls like this. But the "Hot Spot" camera left no doubt: that's the heat signature of a foul ball on the toe of Beltre's cleats. Check it out:
Well, whaddya know? The heretofore useless "Blue Thunder" X-ray cam did something useful! Add it to the list of electronics, along with expanded replay, robot umpires, etc., that baseball fans want for Christmas, Chanukah and Festivus.
Washington, possibly oblivious to the technology that supported his case, tried to explain the Texas side of the argument:
"Well, [Beltre] said he did [foul it off his foot], and he had on those Velcro-type shoes, so he asked them to check the ball; couldn't find anything on it," Washington said. "He said none of the umpires recognized it, so that's what it was about."
I ... see ... Anyway, you might have heard McCarver evoke the "Earl Weaver/shoe polish game" from the 1969 World Series. Back then, umpire Lou DiMuro was persuaded to change a call based on the evidence of a player's shoe polish being found on the baseball.
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So, either Washington meant that Beltre's "Velcro" shoes aren't ones that you polish, or that the Velcro would scuff the baseball. Can't quite make him out there, but it's one of those two things.
The way the rest of the ninth inning went, it probably doesn't change the outcome of the game — but who knows? The umpires do owe the Rangers one. And all of you snarky people owe Hot Spot "They Live" cam an apology. Sorry, Hottie!
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