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One person’s theory on the horrible infield-fly call

Oct 5, 2012, 8:27 PM EDT

Infield fly

First and most obviously, Andrelton Simmons‘ pop to left field was too deep to be calling an infield-fly rule on. That wasn’t a routine play for Pete Kozma. It certainly wasn’t a ball any shortstop would have thought of dropping in an effort to get a double play. It wasn’t an infield fly.

That said, here’s my theory: the only reason that ball dropped was because left-field umpire Sam Holbrook yelled “infield fly!” Kozma didn’t lose the ball in the lights. He peeled off at the last second because someone called him off. It wasn’t left fielder Matt Holliday, who was as shocked as anyone that the ball fell in. Perhaps it was a fan with a particularly strong set of lungs, but I doubt it. The park was plenty noisy at the time, and Kozma wasn’t at all close to the stands.

I think Holbrook yelled before he put his hand up and Kozma thought Holliday was calling him off. That would also be the best explanation for the umpires not reversing the call. If they thought the only reason the ball dropped in was because Kozma heard Holbrook yell, then it certainly wouldn’t have been fair to put Simmons on first.

Anyway, that’s my theory. Hopefully crew chief Jeff Kellogg will be open to discussing it after the game.

  1. amoses74 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Thats the stupidest thing Ive ever read. Have you ever played baseball in your life? If you hear infield fly from an umpire you dont drop the ball like that…..you catch it. DUMB!

    • hammyofdoom - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:41 PM

      Or, heres a thought, the crowd was so goddamned loud the umpire yelled out “INFIELD FLY!” and Kozma heard someone yell yet did not hear the exact words. It’d be pretty easy for him to hear someone yell from the field, not understand what they said, and expect that it was the outfielder calling him off because why the hell would the ump call infield fly with him 30 feet in the outfield?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      This is the stupidest comment I’ve ever read. Have you ever played a sport in front of a loud crowd in your life. If you hear somebody shout something from the field near you, you assume it is a teammate calling you off. Dismissing that notion out of hand is DUMB!

      • cur68 - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:04 PM

        Yep.

    • seattlej - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:11 PM

      What’s with all the jerk-offs posting stupid shit on here tonight. Usually you hear the ump make the call WELL before you’re getting in position to catch it. You don’t expect to be hearing that call made at that time and place.

    • ezthinking - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:48 AM

      It wasn’t a bad call, it was a boot by the SS. No doubt he should have had it, but he bailed. That’s a boot. Once the ump yells “infield fly, batter out” the catch is irrelevant. No doubt the SS was there, he just tanked it.

    • rarson - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Way to demonstrate your lack of reading comprehension.

  2. istallion - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Not a very plausible theory but thanks for trying.

  3. bravojawja - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Somebody has some serious ‘splainin to do.

  4. illcomm - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:42 PM

    Yup. that’s exactly what I thought. if no infield fly was called. then he would have caught it. therefore it really did not effect each teams fair chance of winning.

  5. nps6724 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    Yeah because infielders the league over drop infield flies all the time…

  6. Alex K - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    I’m not buying that. How often do you see a player not catch a ball called an infield fly?

    • albertmn - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:55 PM

      You are all missing the point. The theory isn’t that he let it drop because he heard the ump and knew it was the ump. The theory is that he heard the ump, but that the ump was Holliday calling him off. He wouldn’t let it drop because he heard an infield fly rule, as the runners could still move up.

      Feel free to disagree with the theory presented (which I agree with, based on Kozma’s reactions), but make sure you understand what is being presented before you start arguing a point other than what is presented.

      • Alex K - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:04 PM

        I don’t agree with that, either. If it was Holliday he would have been yelling “I got it” or whatever else over and over again. The ump wouldn’t have been yelling “infield fly” over and over again. So, yeah, I’m sticking with my original point that the theory is flawed.

        Also, make sure not to be super condescending when typing a response.

      • rarson - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        Alex: watch the replay. The video on MLB.com shows Kozma back off right as the ump makes the call.

        You think the theory is wrong because Holliday would have been yelling over and over again. But he obviously wasn’t. So what are the other possible sources for the phantom yelling? Kozma was in position to make an easy play, he called for the ball, he backed off, he OBVIOUSLY thought that the left fielder was calling for it. I suppose it’s just coincidence that the ump was twenty feet away and making the infield fly call right as Kozma decided to back off.

        I don’t think albert’s reply was “super condescending” at all, but if you’re a Braves fan that’s upset with a call that went in your favor, then it’s easy to see why you’d think that logic is condescending.

      • Alex K - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        First, I’m not a Braves fan, at all. And the part about “make sure you understand ect…” was very condescending, in my opinion. The rest of it wasn’t.

        I don’t think there is anything obvious about why he backed off. It was something, but we don’t know what it is. I just don’t agree with Matthew’s reasoning. It happens.

      • nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:26 PM

        Are you kidding rarson? First, he wasn’t in position to make the play. He was 5 feet in front of where the ball landed and moving in the wrong direction. Second, he said himself following the game that he didn’t hear anyone call him off and peeled off because he had lost the ball.

      • nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:28 PM

        “I didn’t hear anything,” Kozma said.

        http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-05/sports/chi-cardinals-beat-braves-in-nl-wildcard-game-marred-by-infield-fly-rule-call-20121005_1_infield-fly-cardinals-chipper-jones

    • seattlej - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:13 PM

      Reading comprehension fail.

  7. paul621 - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    “Hopefully crew chief Jeff Kellogg will be open to discussing it after the game.” I’m glad to see you’re keeping a sense of humor about the situation!

  8. paperlions - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Guys: He is saying he thinks Kozma heard the ump yell and thought it was Holliday calling him off…not that he understood the words that were yelled, just that he heard someone near him yell and that he peeled off because of it.

    It was a bad call, but ultimately isn’t what cost the game (it wasn’t any worse than an ump calling time out after a pitch the hitter already swung at)….bad defense cost the Braves at least 4 runs and the game.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      Bad defense certainly was a huge contributor but the fact remains that call cost them bases loaded with only 1 out. It was just as much a part of the game as the throwing errors were.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:48 PM

        But it didn’t cost them anything. If he doesn’t call the IF, then the SS makes the play. Nothing changes.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:00 PM

        I write this without knowing what the SS said in the postgame interview, do we know the ump calling the IF is why he quit his pursuit of the ball? And why would he let it drop anyways since runners can still advance at their own peril?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:04 PM

        Because he thought Holliday was calling him off.

      • rarson - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:50 PM

        @drmonkeyarmy

        Actually, if he doesn’t call the IF, then the game DOES change: Atlanta’s runners don’t advance.

        Bad call went in their favor. And they trashed their own stadium over it.

  9. manchestermiracle - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    And if you aren’t in the infield, why would you listen to that?

    • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:38 AM

      An infield fly doesn’t have to be on the infield, strictly. It can be any routine, shallow fly ball where the fielders could turn a no-doubt double play by letting it drop.

      The call was still wrong. But anyway, that’s the layman’s explanation of the rules.

  10. vincentbojackson - Oct 5, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Why on earth would Holbrook yell “infield fly” before raising his hand? The natural reaction would be to yell and raise the hand at the same time.

    Let’s all just agree this was a horribly botched call and stop looking for excuses.

  11. 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.

  12. vincentbojackson - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    Watch Kozma’s eyes on the close up replay. You can tell he is having trouble tracking the ball and that’s why he bails.

    He also appears upset after it falls to the ground. If he heard Holbrook call infield fly he wouldn’t have cared.

    • bradmoss1 - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      “Watch Kozma’s eyes on the close up replay. You can tell he is having trouble tracking the ball and that’s why he bails.”

      “He also appears upset after it falls to the ground. If he heard Holbrook call infield fly he wouldn’t have cared.”

      __________________________________________________

      100% correct. A close up replay shows Holliday didn’t say/yell anything, no way does Kozma see or hear the idiot ump say anything. The kid already had a previous error and screwed this up. He thought he could make the play, and when he realized he couldn’t, he bailed, hoping Holliday would. When he saw Holliday didn’t, he was distraught. Why would he be so distraught if he knew it was ruled infield fly? The answer: he didn’t know. The idiot ump saved him from a screw up.

      • nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:23 PM

        Not to mention Kozma himself admitting after the game that he didn’t hear anything and only peeled off because he lost the ball.

  13. theaxmancometh - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Here’s my theory: that call was horsesh!t

    • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      I like your theory.

  14. djeter220 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    How’s this for a new rule: Outfield umpires aren’t responsible for calling infield flies.

    • paperlions - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:01 AM

      How about this fact: there are only outfield umps in the playoffs, it isn’t a position/perspective that umpires are accustomed to.

      • djeter220 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:08 AM

        Exactly my point.

  15. phillyphreak - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    But even if he heard “infield fly” don’t you think he still would have caught it to prevent the runners from advancing?

  16. Tim's Neighbor - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Good God. You really are awful at this. Why would he let it drop even of the umpire yelled ‘infield fly?’ The runners get to advance. That makes no sense.

    I hate the fact that this is the drudge HBT gives us in the evenings and weekends.

  17. Tim's Neighbor - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    Just re-read this. The second theory is even worse. You’ve never played baseball or even slow-pitch softball it seems.

  18. drmonkeyarmy - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    I swear half the commenters on here must not be able to read properly or are drunk.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:08 PM

      Hahaha! You and Tim are killin’ me Doc. You guys actually have me laughing…out loud!
      For what it’s worth…I can’t read properly AND I am drunk.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:11 PM

        You have the exacta then. I have grudges against both these organizations for purely nonsensical reasons so I am just calling it like I see it sans bias.

  19. 8man - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    It doesn’t matter the scenario or who did what prior to the call. You have to get the call right, and in my opinion the fly ball left the infield by a wide margin and wasn’t subject to the infield fly rule. So the umps should have shut up.

    Are there actually arguments out there trying to justify this by assuming what would have happened or by saying the Braves had one bad inning and therefore weren’t justified in what happened in another inning?

    Now if you want to make a rule about any fly ball with bases loaded, be my guest. But this was a huge mistake. If I were a Braves fan, I would have set fire to whatever I threw out.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      ……as others assume what would have happened if the umps said nothing.

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

      I was going to comment but then I read this…
      “If I were a Braves fan, I would have set fire to whatever I threw out.”

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:13 PM

        With an attitude like that, he must be a Phillies fan….those lousy, loud mouthed, good for nothing bastards…..

  20. ninjasports - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    NL Division Series preview -> http://ninjasports.net/nl-division-series-preview/

  21. nlfan865 - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    MP….You’re a MORON!!!

  22. nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    So I guess we can discredit this theory now that Kozma has said he heard nothing and was never under the ball. Funny how all these former umps are trying to defend the call when the player actually involved admits he wasn’t in position.

    Biggest issue is that the rule apparently has never been changed since it was written in 1895. Might just be about time to update it and make it clear that the defense has to have a reasonable chance at getting an out for it to be called. Having people claim that you could have an infield fly called on the warning track if the infielder got out there in time, even though there would obviously be no way for the defense to drop it and get an out, shows how horribly written the rule is.

    • rarson - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      Kozma obviously backed off the ball, just watch the replay. He was standing right where the ball landed.

      What’s more annoying though is the fact that you Braves fans are bitching about this call when it HELPED YOU GUYS OUT. Everything from it being late to being an “infield fly” went in YOUR favor, numbnuts. Without that call, Kozma catches it and your runners are stuck at first and second.

      So yeah, the real story here is that Braves fans are morons (and classless ones, too, seeing as they trashed their own field on national TV).

      • nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        So Kozma is just lying about the fact that he didn’t hear anything and ran away because he lost the ball? Why in the world would he do that? Besides, if you’ve actually seen his position before moving forward superimposed over where the ball lands, you would see that he was about 5 feet in front of where it landed and moving in the wrong direction. He ran off because he lost. He said so himself. I’m amazed by the level of cognitive dissonance necessary to just ignore that fact.

      • rarson - Oct 17, 2012 at 2:33 AM

        I have no idea what you’re talking about in reference to Kozma lying. You’ll have to explain that to me. And I’ve never seen a player run away after they’ve lost the ball, primarily because if they lost it, then they have no idea where “away” is.

        “he was about 5 feet in front of where it landed and moving in the wrong direction.”

        I have no idea what you’re watching.

        “He said so himself.”

        When? Where? I haven’t seen or heard that anywhere, other than from you.

      • nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        If you really don’t believe me, then I’m more than willing to post a screen cap of it up here. I still have it saved on my DVR.

      • rarson - Oct 17, 2012 at 2:30 AM

        No need, the video is available right off MLB.com.

  23. lvnwdablz - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Few if any posters here know the infield fly rule. The ball does not have to necessarily be in the nearby infield . I would’ve have been livid with rage initially if I were a Braves fan. However, after listening to a detailed explanation of the rule the umpire’s call was correct. Furthermore, the other 5 umpires and MLB’s Commissioner’s assistant Joe Torre concurred.
    Braves fans disgraced themselves with their boorish behavior yesterday, and many continue to whine like quintisential sore losers with their unsportsmanlike comments in this forum. The Braves lost because they didn’t bring their normal superior defense to their most important game of the season. Some would call this “choking”, Winners thrive under pressure situations. That’s why we have playoffs to determine which team has the most championship qualities and can rise to the occasion. Being a adult fan means accepting defeat gracefully. One has to be willing to understand that baseball is not a “feel good” movie. Tough losses are part of being a true fan, not one who shows up at the post season and throws projectiles onto the field risking forfeiture of game for their home team club.

    • nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      I have actually seen very few Braves fans pin the loss on the call, and every fan base has a few idiots in it. The vast majority are taking the same stance on the Braves, that it stinks that the ump made a bad judgment call, but they didn’t deserve to win the game regardless. Just because we would have liked to see how everything would have played out instead of watching trash get cleaned off the field for 20 minutes (and don’t act like those people represent all Braves fan, as less than 1% of Braves fans were at that game last night) doesn’t mean we blame the loss on the call. We just think it was the wrong call. Considering Holbrook claims he made the call because he saw Kozma under it, even though Kozma never got under it and Holbrook didn’t signal it until he peeled off, I don’t know how you can claim he wasn’t wrong.

  24. 4cornersfan - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    My theory is that the ump saw Kozma peel off the ball and saw Holliday behind him in a position to make a play on the runners and called the infield fly, believing it to be intentional. Kozma obviously heard something that made him pull away; it could have been the ump or the crowd noise. Having said that, the call was inexcusable because the fly ball was was too difficult to be called an infield fly as evidenced by the umpire’s late call.

    • nixa37 - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      No he didn’t. He said so himself following the game. He peeled off because he had lost it. The ball was actually over his head and slightly behind him when he ran forward, so it’s not hard to tell why he couldn’t find it.

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