Rockies pining for instant replay

Rockies pining for instant replay

CHICAGO -- The Rockies welcomed Friday's USA Today report that Major League Baseball is considering allowing the use of instant replay to determine whether a potential home run has cleared the fence or whether it's fair or foul, beginning as early as Aug. 1.

Last season, the Rockies became solid members of the pro-replay camp when four balls that they felt -- and replays supported them -- should have been homers. On the other side, the Rockies can't say with total certainty that Ian Stewart's towering home run, which sailed higher than the top of the foul pole, at Coors Field on Saturday was a fair ball.

"A lot of times, you get all over the umpires, but they can't see it," first baseman Todd Helton said. "That ball Ian hit, ain't no way that umpire could see that. That ball was 800 miles over the pole and the sun was in their eyes."

USA Today's story, quoting an anonymous source, said Major League Baseball and the World Umpires Union must negotiate details, such as how replays are initiated and what video is available. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle believes the buzz about the issue has become loud enough that something will be done. No matter how it comes about, he believes the idea's time has come.

"We live in a technological society now," Hurdle said. "We can get it right. The guy at home sees it right.

"That, for me, is where it gets confusing. You can sit in your chair at home and make the right call, but the man getting paid, who's the expert, who's done it for 20 years, is put in a box where you don't know."

The issue of disrupting the game always has been one of the obstacles, but Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook, whose job can be affected by a long delay, said the need for accuracy overrules that concern in his eyes.

"I don't think it will take that long to look at the replay and get it right, either," Cook said. "It's not like football, where you're looking at whether the knee was down or a lot of other things. Here, it's just whether it was over the fence or whether it stayed fair."

None of the Rockies' players interviewed felt replay was a bad idea. Helton said it would probably be smart to wait until next year, but having it would be better than not. The closest to a dissenting opinion was, well, not that close.

"If we have it, great, if we don't, great," outfielder Brad Hawpe said. "You've still got to hit the ball. Honestly, I guess foul or fair is different, but if you get a double, it's supposed to be a double and if you get a homer, it's meant to be a homer. Appreciate what you get.

"That said, if you get a cheap homer that wasn't supposed to be a homer, I'll take it."

Rockies fans have heard much of this debate before, on balls hit last year in Cincinnati, St. Louis and Philadelphia during the regular season, as well as Garrett Atkins' shot that was ruled not to have cleared he fence during the National League Wild Card tiebreaker against the Padres.

Helton noted those incidents didn't resonate with baseball decision makers.

"What happened is they missed a couple home run calls in New York," Helton said. "Let's be honest. Then they were like, 'Wow. This happens everywhere else in the country.'"

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.