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Anger in Atlanta after controversial infield-fly rule call

Oct 5, 2012, 8:00 PM EDT

Fredi Gonzalez Getty Getty Images

Craziness during the bottom of the eighth inning in Atlanta, as left field umpire Sam Holbrook called the infield-fly rule on a pop-up in shallow left field off the bat of Andrelton Simmons. However, it was far from a routine play.

The controversial play was some 30-40 feet into the outfield and the ball ended up falling between shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday. It was also a very late call by Holbrook, which was the major part of the argument by Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. Kozma tracked the ball for a long time, so it’s possible the sound of Holbrook’s voice caused him to back off the ball, perhaps thinking it was Holliday calling him off. It would have set up a bases loaded situation with one out.

The controversial call was met with anger from the Atlanta crowd, who threw all sorts of debris onto the field. It’s naturally a pretty dangerous situation for all involved, so both teams are currently off the field as order is trying to be restored. When play resumes, the Braves will have runners on second and third with the pitcher spot coming up. It’s 6-3 Cardinals.

As just relayed through the broadcast on TBS, the Braves will play the rest of the game under protest. Good luck with that.

UPDATE: Jason Motte walked Brian McCann to load the bases when play resumed, but Michael Bourn struck out swinging to end the threat. The Cards have a 6-3 lead going into the top of the ninth.

UPDATE II: Here’s video of the play in question.

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. xmatt0926x - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Horrible Call. The replay shows the ump putting his hand up at the last second. No excuse for what the fans did, but it was a really brutal call.

    • xmatt0926x - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

      Just as an addition, the announcers are pointing out the late call and the rule saying that the fielder has to be able to make the play with no extraordinary effort, but how does a ball in shallow left field even come under the infield fly rule to begin with?

      • drewsylvania - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:10 PM

        It’s actually more like medium left.

      • highump - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM

        The infield fly rule only asks the question, “Can an infielder make the play with ordinary effort?” If so, like in this case, then it is an infield fly. The “infield” in infield fly refers to the player not where he is.

      • drewsylvania - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:21 PM

        That was “ordinary effort”. Riiight.

    • highump - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:15 PM

      The call was correct, the timing of the call was late. It appeared to me that Atlanta actually got the better of the play as the fielders likely only gave up on the ball after hearing the late infield fly call.

      • nps6724 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:26 PM

        I don’t think you could be more wrong.

      • bigleagues - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:57 PM


        I strongly second your admonishment of highump.

        Just on the assertion that that was somehow an Infield Fly Rule play is completely wrong:

        An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.

        When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare “Infield Fly” for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare “Infield Fly, if Fair. …

        Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder— not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire’s judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.

        The umpires judgement was just wrong.

    • bigleagues - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      The fans threw plastic bottles and paper cups. Big whoopin’ deal. When umps get calls that badly wrong and MLB allows the play to stand, then I say the fans in PAID attendance have the right to throw whatever non-lethal non-injurious projectile they want to express their distaste.

      If MLB wants to remedy fans throwing items onto the field, fix the real problem.

      Also, I’m disgusted by the pontificating of the announcers from their ivory booth. It’s just so fake and calculated – clearly every one of them are just recited MLB talking points when such events occur.

  2. jfian24 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Maybe the worst umpire call I’ve ever seen.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

      No way. The worst call of all time cost a pitcher a perfect game.

    • stairwayto7 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:06 PM

      worse call was the don deckinger call in the k.c.-st.louis world series.

    • pens5829 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:16 PM

      You’ve obviously forgotten the Jerry Meals Game…

    • southofheaven81 - Oct 6, 2012 at 7:04 AM

      The Imperfect Game still takes the cake. But this was still just so, so wretched.

  3. cowartsh - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    These are the best umps that mlb has to offer? i think that says it all

  4. angrycorgi - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    They just f–ked the braves hard…that was total BS.

    • pens5829 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:19 PM

      I LOVE IT!!! Braves fans want Jerry Meals!!!!

  5. proudlycanadian - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    The Atlanta fans were not angry when a dubious call gave Ross another chance. In effect, the umps were just evening things up.

  6. whodeytn - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    The replacement refs have made it to MLB

  7. stairwayto7 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Umps need to call game and give Cards the win! This will stop these morons from throwing bottles onto the field.

  8. phillyphever - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Craig, you just lost all incentive to bash Phillies fans now. Wow, how classy are those Braves fans?

    • greymares - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:44 PM

      Craig stop bashing Philly fans? no way he will tell us every bottle thrown on the field was done by people wearing phillies jerseys. wait he may be right the Braves fans never fill the park.

  9. bouschkin - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Worse than the (im)perfect call at first

  10. cardsfanandi - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Still no need for instant replay? Even as a St. Louis girl, I can admit that’s a terrible call. But there’s not really an excuse for that behavior by fans. Way to give Chipper a possible last memory like that.

    • highump - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:19 PM

      No replay official on earth, assuming a cursory knowledge of the rules, would have overturned this as the call was correct, despite poor mechanics (late call).

    • paul621 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:59 PM

      Instant replay for a judgement call? Even as a fan of replay, I’m not sure I can get on board with that. It would be like reviewing for pass interference in football.

      Not to mention, nothing on the replay would have been new–it’s not like they didn’t see it happen. They don’t need replay to overturn it right there on the field, and they chose not to.

  11. sabatimus - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    MASSIVE BS call. Can’t the umps go on strike now so we can have replacement umps?

  12. drewsylvania - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Top 5 worst call of all time. Un–f**king-believable. I’d get on the fans for throwing stuff, but in their shoes, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done it.

  13. blacksables - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Stay classy, Atlanta.

  14. natstowngreg - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    I agree with the announcers that the infield-fly call was a mistake. That’s zero excuse for throwing trash.

  15. Kleinz 57 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    I thought Dan Szymborski nailed this one on the head:

    “The WWE would have gotten this right. Another referee would have come out and Fredi Gonzalez would give Holbrook a stone-cold stunner.”

  16. otis52gsh - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    I didn’t realize the replacement refs went from the NFL to the MLB playoffs.

  17. sabatimus - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Shortstop was at least 35-40 FEET from the infield. How is that an INFIELD fly?

  18. illcomm - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    classy braves fans. lol. pathetic

  19. sabatimus - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    If Braves fans keep throwing stuff, the umps could have the game forfeited in the Card’s favor. So STOP THROWING you IDIOTS.

  20. stanleyfrankmusial - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    C’mon, FORFEIT!

  21. nps6724 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Add more umps, make worse calls.

  22. hardballtalkusername - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Instant replay anyone?

    • vallewho - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:22 PM

      Bud is thinking that it was a full-house, so that must mean that fans don’t want replays. Integrity of the game being what it is…

  23. thedripfeed - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Never see that in the Bronx…..been a season ticket holder for years and except for isolated incidents Yankee fans respect the game….Stay Classy Atlanta

  24. drewsylvania - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    There’s going to be a forfeit if they keep this up.

  25. Stiller43 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    The runners advanced. 2nd and 3rd.

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