DENVER -- The Catch might not have been a catch after all.
Clint Barmes returned from a day off in the mountains with his family Tuesday to learn that doubt had been cast upon his sensational game-ending grab that cinched the Colorado Rockies' victory over the St. Louis Cardinals 48 hours earlier.
The second baseman's tumbling catch of Ryan Ludwick's one-out flare to shallow right field, followed by his strike to first base to double up Albert Pujols and seal the NL wild-card leading Rockies' 4-3 win was immediately termed "the defensive play of the year" by manager Jim Tracy.
However, a fan, Craig Welling, posted images on his photo blog from his vantage point in right field, and one of the shots clearly showed the ball on the grass for a split second as Barmes rolled over.
Barmes' body blocked television angles as well as those of professional photographers.
So, did he make the catch or not?
"When I popped to my feet, the ball was in my hand," Barmes said. "I never said I caught it clean."
After the game, Barmes said he thought he made the catch but that it happened so fast, he wasn't sure.
Barmes said Tuesday that all he knows for sure is that the ball bobbled around his body as he tumbled.
"Once I was heading down, the ball bounced off my glove," he said. "I felt it hit my chest. I'm reaching for it, trying to battle to catch it before it hits the ground. At that point, it happened so fast, my knee hit [the ground], I flipped, I knocked my hat and my glasses off, scratched my forehead. I come up and the ball's in my hand."
First-base umpire Sam Holbrook ruled it a catch, and the throw to first ended the game.
"It's not like I'm sitting here trying to play it off and try to cheat them out of an out or whatever," Barmes said. "I honestly thought that I caught the ball at the time. ... I wish I could say I'm good enough, my hand-eye coordination is good enough, as I'm rolling that fast and I'm in full-speed and I hit the ground rolling that I can react and try to pick a ball up on the ground."
Spilborghs, who had the best view of the play, was coy when asked Tuesday whether the Rockies got away with one.
"It was a good play, that's all it was," he said. "It doesn't really matter because the play's over."
But did he see the ball hit the ground?
"It's more fun not to say whether I did or I didn't," Spilborghs retorted.
Barmes even held a news conference Tuesday before the Rockies faced the Milwaukee Brewers so that he didn't have to talk about the play over and over with individual reporters.
"You look at my quotes on Sunday, I never once said I for sure caught the ball. I said, 'All I know is whenever I hit, I rolled, the ball was not in my glove, it somehow was in my throwing hand when I came up and I finished the play out of reaction,'" Barmes said. "I went and looked at the replays and I saw two, slowing it down frame by frame and I couldn't tell. And so, I just assumed it worked out great -- the ball, I caught it clean.
"And obviously today showing up, the picture showed that I didn't."
Even if baseball had instant replay for these types of situations, the call wouldn't have been reversed because there was no video angle that conclusively showed the ball had hit the grass.
"The bottom line, like a lot of the guys in [the clubhouse] said, we got the win and that's all that matters," Barmes said.