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Umpires stand by Sam Holbrook’s infield-fly rule call

Oct 5, 2012, 10:05 PM EDT

Sam Holbrook AP

Surprisingly enough, Sam Holbrook did talk to the media Friday after his infield-fly rule call that caused the Braves to protest Friday night’s game against the Caridnals.

Disappointingly, he defended his call, saying he’d make it again after viewing the replay. He also said that the other five umpires on the field all agreed with the call.

Whether they agreed with the timing of Holbrook’s call might be another matter entirely. While it certainly appeared that Andrelton Simmons‘ popup was too deep into the outfield to be called an “infield fly,” that’s still a judgment call. That Holbrook called the infield fly so late, and may have distracted shortstop Pete Kozma in the process, into the play was the real problem here.

  1. elchief157 - Oct 6, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    [This comment has been deleted for violation of our commenting rules and the user has been banned]

    • pens5829 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      You need to get a life.

    • lncrprl - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      You mean to say, those 3 throwing errors had nothing to do with the LOSS?

    • surefooted1 - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:17 AM

      There is a saying in sports that applies from peewee to the pros.

      “If you allow the game to be decided by the refs/umps…”

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:06 PM

      Thank you for banning that person. The comment was totally offensive.

  2. planck16 - Oct 6, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    A couple of things here:

    1) Guess nobody will ever say the Atlanta fans are not passionate!
    2) MLB needs to come out and say that it was a bad call. They look dumb supporting the decision.
    3) Holbrook should be removed from the playoff roster.
    4) The Sam Wyche “you don’t live in Cleveland” speech should have been given by Chipper, Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, or Jimmy Carter.
    5) it is heartbreaking being an Atlanta fan, but the 3 errors and not getting more than one run in those last three innings is a gut punch.
    6) Holbrook should mix in a salad.

  3. FinFan68 - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    That was a HORRIBLE call and MLB standing behind it was an injustice. The player(s) were not camped under a routine ball, the ball was too far into the outfield (even though that isn’t a factor in the rule) and the ump waited until the ball was ~25 feet from the ground (on a ball that was easily over 150 feet high at its apex. The call was in no way ” immediate” as required in the rule. The embarrassing aftermath of fans throwing debris was an opportunity for MLB to correct the call. Torre was on site and took the easy way out. That’s disgraceful. The call itself is a judgment call (you have to be pretty liberal with the interpretation to agree with the call) but the incorrect execution of the call was not. Torre should have intervened. The play may or may not have eliminated the braves from the tourney but there will now always be resentment and uncertainty. The cards were placed in a much easier situation and the braves momentum was lost. The game should be decided by the players on the field rather than bogus calls by the umpires.

    • lncrprl - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      What I don’t understand is the 5 negative (thumbs down) votes for your blog! Even a DIEHARD Cards Fan should understand what a HORRIBLE call that was!

  4. istallion - Oct 6, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Most of these umpires who agree probably have an IQ of less than 100. So, I’m not surprised to hear they agree.
    Secondly, they stick together.
    Any reasonable sane person can see that was not ORDINARYand the proof was right before you- the SS bailed out. He even admitted all he could hear was the crowd. He bailed because he thought LF was going to take it.
    Like I said- only morons and biased people believe this was the right call.

    • andrewproughcfe - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM

      Well – what can you expect from replacement Umps from the Lingerie Baseball League.

      I mean we ALL know that real umps would never botch a call that bad…

  5. doughboy73 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    One point that supports the call is that when the shortstop peeled off he moved forward. He got to the spot, thought he was being called off and broke back towards the infield. Once it became apparent that he was conceding to the outfielder the call becomes questionable because it appears as though the infielder is admitting it was not routine enough for him to call the outfielder off but by that time the call was already made. That call us NEVER an immediate call as someone stated earlier because the path and actions of the fielder do apply. A ball that could clearly be an infield fly will not be called in the fielder falls or appears to not see the ball(sun or lights blinding him). There is also a provision that allows the umps to fix a call after the play ended if they feel it should have been an infield fly

    • planck16 - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      What you are not mentioning is the intent of the rule. It is to prevent bogus double plays. Sid Bream could have hit the ball, been on second and first and a double play would not have happened. If the call would have been made at the appropriate time, then there would be less noise. But the fact that he called it so late and so deep is ridiculous. He should be removed from all playoff games.

  6. dasher521 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    The first question that I have is if there is any written procedures of the responsibility of the left field and right field umpires stationed on the foul line? Is their role and responsibility only to call fair or foul balls (replay takes care of foul pole / home run calls). It seems to me the umpire crews are in 162 games under one set of rules & responsibilities and it changes for playoffs. Adding umpires just seems to create uncertainty of the roles and responsibilities.
    As to the call, I think if an infielder has to turn his back to the infield to make a play, it isn’t ordinary effort. If an infield back peddles to get the ball, that is ordinary effort. Whether the infield fly is called or not by the umpires, the infielder will still try to catch the ball. The call tells the infielder not to drop the ball because nothing will come of it. In the press conference after, Torre basically says that they are ignoring the protest rule (24 four hours). The objective should be to get it right. I don’t think they a) got it right, b) attempted to get it right.

  7. johngaltwho - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    It was a bad call, objectively. The infield fly rule is actually in place to protect the hitting team against trickery by the defense wherein a ball could be intentionally dropped and used to make a double play. Therefore, it should only be invoked when there is no doubt that the fielder is in a position to make an ordinary routine play. In this case, the inappropriate application of the infield fly rule, a rule designed specifically to protect the hitting team, was used in such a way as to erase a defensive error, hurt the offense, disrupt the game, and produce a tainted result. Despite good intentions, the umps screwed up and MLB looks foolish in their post hoc support.

  8. nuebby - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    As an umpire that went to pro school. The way they teach this rule is that if an infielder can get to the ball with ordinary effort the umpire should call the rule. It doesn’t matter if the umpire calls it after the ball hits the ground (ideally it would be at the apex but can’t always happen). So even though the infielder was in the outfield and the umpire called it late the only part you can question is your opinion of ordinary effort. Good luck with that…

    • planck16 - Oct 6, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      You can’t call an infield fly when the ball hits the ground. What jarhead umpires forget is that once infield fly is called, runners advance at their own risk. By calling it when it is on the ground or close to the ground, then you have officially given the defense an advantage in turning a double play. Nobody on the field of play heard the call, including the OF and SS. When you are looking for help like their SS, that is not ordinary effort.

  9. santolonius - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    so basically on a tricky pop-up that was between players in a noisy stadium the umpire decided to step in and catch the ball for the player. if the old guard at mlb thinks that’s okay, then there is no reason for me to watch baseball again. at least not until selig, torre and the rest of these stubborn old men die off and get replaced by someone with some common sense.

  10. mattcerrone - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Can someone tell me why the player is not required to catch the ball once an infield fly rule is called? Shouldn’t the fielder STILL be required to catch the ball?

  11. aroomadazda - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I am a Giants fan, so I do not care at all who won. The call made by the ump was exactly the correct call. The infielder was camped under it with his arms out. It doesn’t matter how far into the outfield he was. There is not exact distance at which it ceases to become an outfield fly. The real reason the Braves lost was the errors.

    • aroomadazda - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      Oops, I meant ceases to become an infield fly. For a really good explanation, watch the Harold Reynolds clip.

    • tekneek211 - Oct 9, 2012 at 9:23 AM

      The rules do not require anyone to be camped under anything. Holbrook watching Kozma and waiting for that moment reveals his improper application of the rules. If you review both the infield fly rule and the ordinary effort definition in the rules, you will see what I am talking about.

      We can debate whether or not it should still be an infield fly call after that, but it will be clear that Holbrook did not properly apply the rules to this situation.

  12. tekneek211 - Oct 9, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I wonder if any umpires in the league have ever read the definition of “ordinary effort” included in the MLB rules. If they have, I wonder if they would then be able to articulate why Holbrook watching Kozma had anything to do with his call, since the rules (as written) specifically require that the decision be made with an objective standard. Given Holbrook’s statements, he did not properly apply the “ordinary effort” standard, which is defined in the rules and specifically called for in the “infield fly” rule.

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