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Rockies in favor of expanded replay

Rockies in favor of expanded replay

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BALTIMORE -- Rockies players and manager Walt Weiss applauded Major League Baseball's move toward expanding the instant replay system by 2014, even though one of the golden moments in club history has been offered -- incorrectly -- as an example of a call that should have been changed.

Matt Holliday scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the 13th inning of the 2007 Wild Card play-in game against the Padres was one of the most debated plays in recent history. The argument is that Holliday never touched home plate.

Even with that debate a part of baseball lore, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton welcomed the proposed system, which gives managers one challenge in innings 1-6, and two thereafter. A crew in New York would be responsible for the replay decisions. Owners will vote formally in November (75 percent is needed to pass the change), and the MLB Players Association and the umpires' union must also agree.

"Hopefully it doesn't slow down the game, but it's about time to try it out and see how it works," Helton said. "I think everybody wants it to be right, even the umpires. Umpires don't like to be wrong, either."

Rockies manager Walt Weis welcomed it, but warned that managers may use challenges for strategic purposes, such as giving pitchers extra warmup time or trying to change momentum.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of games within that game," Weiss said. "But the technology and the research, they've spent a lot of time on it."

Since 2007, many -- especially Padres fans -- have devoted websites to angles that showed Holliday never touched the plate after colliding with Padres catcher Michael Barrett. Plate umpire Tim McClelland ruled Holliday safe.

However, Barrett did not hold onto the throw and never picked up the ball and tagged Holliday. If the proposed rule were in place, Barrett would have had to retrieve the ball and tag Holliday to make the play reviewable, and a conclusive angle would have had to be found in a reasonable time period.

As it turned out, the Rockies marched to the World Series, while the Padres were left wondering.

"They're still talking about that?" said veteran catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who was with the Rockies that night and also played briefly for the Padres. "Me being a catcher, all you can do is get the ball and tag him. But they just walked off the field."

Of course, replay goes two ways. In the seventh inning of that game, the Rockies' Garrett Atkins hit a line drive that hit an object beyond the left-field wall and bounced back into play, but umpires ruled no homer. That was before the current replay system, which allows home runs to be reviewed.

The Rockies didn't score in the inning. Had the call been overturned, there may not have been a 13th-inning slide. But while Holliday's play is remembered, some of the Rockies who were a part of that game -- Helton, Torrealba, even Rockies owner and CEO Dick Monfort -- said they didn't remember Atkins' liner.

In the 2009 NL Division Series, the Phillies' come-from-behind, Game 3 victory over Colorado was aided by a blown call. Chase Utley sparked a rally with a single that should have been ruled foul because the ball hit him while in the batter's box.

"That's the past," said Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler, who was a part of that game and the series, which the Phillies ended up winning, 3-1. "Replay will help the game going forward."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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