Skip to content

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. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    For those who haven’t seen it, the red circle is where the ball dropped, and yet the LF Ump called it an Infield Fly out

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/A4ez611CEAEl5G4.png

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

      photo/1

      • highump - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:12 PM

        The call was correct. The timing of the call was poor. In face, it actually favored Atlanta in that it allowed the runners to move up, whereas if the call was made at the apex, as it should have been, the runners would have given up the advancement and the fielder wouldn’t have been distracted by the late infield fly call.

      • highump - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:12 PM

        The call was correct. The timing of the call was poor. In fact, it actually favored Atlanta in that it allowed the runners to move up, whereas if the call was made at the apex, as it should have been, the runners would have given up the advancement and the fielder wouldn’t have been distracted by the late infield fly call.

      • sabatimus - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:13 PM

        highump, you really must be if you believe what you’re saying. I’m going to assume you don’t.

    • highump - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      Can an infielder make the catch with “ordinary effort?” If yes, then infield fly. The location where the ball drops is only relevant with respect to fair or foul, not infield or outfield.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:20 PM

        Can an infielder make the catch with “ordinary effort?”

        The SS is a good 20+ yards away from where he started, and is roughly 13 strides off the infield dirt. If moving that far is considered “ordinary effort”, then almost every fly ball an infielder catches should be covered under the IFR.

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

        You think this was ordinary effort by the shortstop?

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

      But, the red circle is where the ball landed after Kozma pulled off the ball. I still think he heard the ump, thought it was the outfielder calling for it, and pulled off. He was under the ball and would easily have caught it.

      • cur68 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:51 PM

        Kozma pulls off BEFORE the arm goes up, I think. I think he heard the LFers feet, because I think the call is simultaneous with the arm: after Kozma’s given up. Bad call.

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

    Oh and yeah. Impartial bystander here.

    TERRIBLE call

  3. stanleyfrankmusial - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    And if the Braves lose, please don’t say they could have won if not for this. They will lose due to lousy defense.

    • biasedhomer - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:24 PM

      But, Braves fans will point the entire lose on this call, even though the Cards are playing a better game.

      Once again, Braves fail to advance in the playoffs.

  4. paperlions - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Just an ugly game. Bad calls by the umps, bad defense by both teams. Just not a good baseball game.

  5. uuddlrlrbastart - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    That was an absolutely brutal call. The shame of it is, MLB will probably take the easy way out of the protest and say it was a judgment call. Because if it is protest-able, there’s no logical way it can’t be overturned and MLB can’t handle the scheduling nightmare that would ensue.

  6. crabcakesfootball - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    NATITUDE!!!

  7. amnesia021 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    video for those interested.

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

      Thanks.

  8. albertmn - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    If the league would uphold the protest, when would they resume the game? Is the winner supposed to play tomorrow, or do they not start the next series until Sunday?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:23 PM

      According to Ron Darling, if the protest were upheld it’d be bottom of the inning, bases loaded with 1 out. But has a protest ever actually been upheld? I know the AL President overturned the George Brett Pine Tar incident, but that was in ’83.

    • natstowngreg - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      Game 1 of Nats vs. winner of this game is Sunday afternoon. I suppose that, if the protest were upheld, they could pick up this game tomorrow. It’s just very rare for a protest to be upheld.

  9. cowartsh - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    highump the fielders didnt give up on it when the call was made because the call was made a damn millisecond before the ball dropped. Talk about delusional

  10. paperlions - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Well, the fans chanting infield fly on the last two fly outs was pretty funny.

  11. istallion - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    I can’t believe the head ump could not or would not overrule that horrible call. Very disturbing to see six grown ups embarrass themselves like that.

  12. cmcgly - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    the tomahawk chop is now known as the bottle throw

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

    I don’t care if this isn’t something Gonzalez can protest. The league broke its own rules with Melky Cabrera–why not with this travesty?

  14. rrussellndfan - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    The call was made because an infielder was camped under the ball and the ump made the call how it was seen! If an infielder regardless of where the ball is, is on a ball like that, it’s an infield fly. So I’m all for the call. If the fans weren’t so loud he probably wouldn’t have thought Holiday called him off. And then they threw beer cans. This game is over just because of the fact the fans are poor sports even if its under protest.

    • uuddlrlrbastart - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      But he was still running to the ball, he never “camped.” And the rule clearly states that the ump has to call the play immediately. He can’t wait to see if an infielder is going to get there and then decide to call.

  15. chill1184 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Gee wheres Craig’s big mouth now? More of those classy southern values we always keep hearing about.

    • natstowngreg - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:33 PM

      Somehow, I suspect we will hear from Craig about his, and it will not be in defense of Braves fans.

  16. istallion - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    Anyone who thinks that was the correct call must be a Cardinals fan or doesn’t know baseball.
    In case you are wondering- I bleed Dodgers Blue!

    • Gobias Industries - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:04 PM

      I wasn’t wondering.

  17. paperlions - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    A real shame that this was Chipper’s last game, and that he walked off the field to a shower of boos and debris….probably not the way he envisioned it going.

  18. natstowngreg - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Larry Chipper’s last AB, he beats out an infield hit. A lousy way to go out; makes a critical error, and has to endure horrible behavior by his fans. Still, it doesn’t take away from as great career. Best Wishes, Chipper.

    • drewsylvania - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:42 PM

      He beat out nothing. He gave up on going to first, and the ump bails him out by making a bad call.

  19. thebadguyswon - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Human Element 1, Braves 0

  20. bravojawja - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    The ump made the call when the shortstop started running *away* from the ball, back to the infield. It was a cocksucking call. No “judgment” call here – it was called far too late, at the moment it was most clear it was wrong.

  21. mrredlegz - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    Why does Kozma give up on this flyball in the first place? The infield fly “call” is for the runners, so they know they can’t be forced out. It isn’t so that the infielder can quit on the fly ball. When have you ever seen anyone just give up on the play after an infield fly was called? Kozma thought the LFer called him off. He had no clue it was called an infield fly.

    That said, I don’t think the location is relevant, but the call is terrible nonetheless. Infield flies are plays that don’t require the infielder to run 25-30 yards. They’re balls that Little Leaguers can get under and catch. Kozma may have had plenty of time to get there, but to call that particular hit an infield fly is pretty crazy.

  22. mcjon22 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    bud.selig@mlb.com

    MLB president and chief operating office
    bob.dupuy@mlb.com

    Executive vice president of MLB
    tim.brosnan@mlb.com

    the number for the commissioner’s office is 212-931-7800.

  23. kvanhorn87 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Hey one game more than last year. Congrats on a great season. Losers!

  24. darkglobe1 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    people act as if it was a one run game. bad call? yes. but the Braves kicking and throwing the ball all over the place is what cost them the game.

    • mrwillie - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:21 PM

      You’re right, from now on when a team is down a few runs late in the game we should just send the umps home, they aren’t needed anymore when the game gets to that point. Hell why even play 9 innings, let’s just arbitrarily decided when games are over from now. 9th inning come backs? Yeah right, that never happens.

      • stanleyfrankmusial - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:10 PM

        It sure didn’t happen tonight, did it Mr. Willie? I believe i detect the scent of sour grapes…

      • mrwillie - Oct 5, 2012 at 11:32 PM

        Sour Grapes….of course my team lost in the “playoffs”, you want me to throw a party?

        Yeah, the braves pissed it away tonight, the lost, and they should have never let it get to the point where one call could even be a factor. That being said, that does not give the umps a free pass on a blown call, game changer or not. You get nine innings to play, no matter what you’ve done to that point. So the “it doesn’t really matter” argument is lost on me because there were 2 more innings to go.

        So no, it didn’t happen tonight….umps or not. But I believe i detect the scent of an arrogant winner….unlike most cards fans.

  25. forsch31 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    Here’s the official MLB definition of the infield fly rule:

    “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.”
    The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
    If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.”

    1. As the first part of the rule states, an infield fly isn’t defined by location on the field; it’s defined whether an infielder can catch it with ordinary effort. Note that Pete Kozma was settling under the ball he suddenly turned head to look behind him *and ran forward,* as if Holliday had called him off.

    2. As the second part of the rule states, the umpire is supposed to call the infield fly rule as soon as it becomes apparent it is one. The Youtube video that anmesia posted clearly shows that the umpire on the left field line called it–his arm is goes up right when Kozma suddenly lurched forward (see 1:48 of the video) and right after he seems to set up to make the catch (compare Kozma’s body language to David Freese’s dropped pop-up in Game 6 last year).

    The infield fly rule was created to prevent fielders from deceiving runners by intentionally dropping balls. That’s the only justification that that umpire has in calling the rule–he saw Kozma suddenly abandon the fly ball and called the rule to prevent a double-play that never was going to happen. Otherwise, there’s no reason to call it in that situation–while Kozma easily could have caught that ball, the timing between him settling under the ball and the ball coming down shouldn’t have allowed for the rule. The runners obviously wouldn’t have “received the benefit” of the call being made–they were both off the bag as the ball was coming down.

    Holliday’s bewilderment behind the play speaks volumes–I’m not sure exactly what happened with Kozma there. Kozma is obviously reacting to something, whether it’s Holliday’s footsteps or somebody yelling at him. But his reaction is just weird.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:38 PM

      Yeah…what Bob said!

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Colby-on-Colby crime in Toronto
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3524)
  2. C. Lee (2589)
  3. T. Tulowitzki (2402)
  4. H. Ramirez (2401)
  5. Y. Puig (2190)
  1. T. Walker (2108)
  2. B. Belt (2064)
  3. D. Price (2036)
  4. D. Uggla (1949)
  5. D. Salazar (1898)