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Friday, October 05, 2012

Bradley: Lousy call, lousy game, lousy system: A lousy Braves’ exit

The one-game play-in…the worst idea since The Elvis Vegiform? You decide! I have…and I ain’t watching.

Why to hate baseball’s newly minted play-in game: Because you can be, as the Braves were over the course of six months, the demonstrably better team and still give a performance than fuses the three-error Brooks Conrad game of October 2010 and the Epic Collapse of September 2011. Because you can go home having sipped from the postseason cup for all of 189 minutes. Because you can put yourself in position to be rooked by those darn replacement umps.

Wait. These aren’t replacements? These are the real umpires? Is this a real sport?

Had Andrelton Simmons’ pop that dropped been allowed to stand, the Braves would have had the bases loaded and one out. When you’re trailing by three runs in the eighth inning, that’s rather different than having men on second and third with two out, which is what they wound up having. But not before the game was halted for 19 minutes as the field was cleared of the cups and bottles that had been flung, with somewhat greater accuracy than the Braves’ infielders displayed this night, by incensed patrons.

...We’re lucky that, as time does its work, we’ll have our memories of Chipper Jones to keep us warm. And maybe someday we can get past the strange doings on a lousy night in October 2012, when a good team played badly and got unlucky to boot, and thanks to this silly professional “system” it was eliminated. At least in the College World Series they play double elimination.

Repoz Posted: October 05, 2012 at 10:29 PM | 266 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, cardinals

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   1. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:00 PM (#4256256)
way to leave chipper, broken-bat up the middle-right, off-the-bag 1B-man and even then it looked like an out... i say we forget about that and replay it with bases loaded and 1 OUT !
+ more money to be made
+ more cans and bottles to be thrown
- schedule problems
- chipper could leave with a strikeout

discussed the infield fly with a couple of friends, conclusion : just a wrong call !
let´s see what lady justice does !!


   2. Dale H. Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4256269)
Former Cardinal manager disallows the protest. Nice. They couldn't even get an impartial figurehead to make the call. Of course had he ruled the other way, there was still an issue.

(edit: and then changes his story from "I disallowed it" to "Wren dropped the protest")
   3. Mike A Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4256281)
To be fair, Torre is a former Brave manager as well.

I can't really blame Joe, it was an awful call but a judgment call just the same. And you can't allow replays over judgment calls, else we'd be replaying half the games.

I pretty much agree with everything Bradley wrote in this article. Which is odd, since I pretty much never agree with Bradley.
   4. SteveF Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4256299)
Whatever consequences there should be should be felt by the umpiring crew. I wouldn't use this crew again for the rest of the playoffs.
   5. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4256300)
Infield fly is a judgment call. Upholding the protest would be a bad precedent. Also, the last time a protest was upheld was 26 years ago.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4256308)
As I understand it there is no precedent for reviewing an invocation of the outfield fly rule.
   7. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:23 PM (#4256311)
In looking at the rule, there's 24 hours you have to make the report. In the circumstances, I think, it just didn't make sense for that to take place.


so this is how it´s gonna be ? i am disgusted !
   8. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4256312)
Former Cardinal manager disallows the protest.


This makes Joe having to watch Frank die a little bit more entertaining.
   9. Tippecanoe Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4256325)
The umpires circled the wagons and all stood behind the call. It's almost like these kind of things have happened before and they know how to agree to a story.

The Bradley article sounds like whining. Was he complaining about the format before the result?
   10. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4256332)
The umpires circled the wagons and all stood behind the call.


Makes for a tighter kill zone.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4256352)
I read the thread before I saw the call, so I figured the SS was racing after the ball, rather than meandering back under it as he was. While the call was made too late* and a little deeper than usual, the call itself was fine. That's a perfectly legitimate use of the infield fly rule.**

And MLB upholding the protest or doing anything to overturn it would have been a far greater travesty than the call, that's for damn sure.

* I'm not sure how that hurt the Braves in any way.

** Though if MLB wants to get rid of the IF fly rule altogether, I'm on board.


   12. The Ghost of Sox Fans Past Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:49 PM (#4256362)
The purpose of the IFR is to prevent a fielder not catching it and turning a ground ball double play. So perhas it shouldn't be an IF if teh ball is so deep into the OF that a GBDP is unlikely.
   13. Tippecanoe Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4256366)
If that's legitimate infield fly rule, then the rule needs adjustment. The intent of the rule is to prevent double plays on intentionally dropped pop-ups -- obviously impossible there, when the runner on first can play it a third of the way to second. And I root for the Cardinals.

Beverage to The Ghost
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4256368)
The purpose of the IFR is to prevent a fielder not catching it and turning a ground ball double play. So perhas it shouldn't be an IF if teh ball is so deep into the OF that a GBDP is unlikely.


There's actually a mechanism in place for the offense to prevent the double play from ever happening (if the batter passes the runner on first, the ball is dead and the runners stay at their bases). There's really no reason for the IF fly to exist.

But it does. And as long as it does, then I don't see that this call fit the bill (though I wouldn't have objected if the ump didn't call the IF fly either). It was deep enough to eschew it, but the SS could have caught it with a routine effort so calling it was defensible.

   15. Dale Sams Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:54 PM (#4256371)
All things taken in consideration, while i, in the past, violently disagreed with the new playoff system...I marginally approve. With 162? tough, go home even though you were ###### by the vagaries of geographical location, being the worst part.

But what can you do? 2 out of 3? That's just too long to wait for 'the real playoffs to start' Lower seed has to win 2? Too oddball. it is what it is. I don't want to remove divisions. I don't want to remove leagues. It's the best solution. Though, I'd be all for cutting back to 154 games.
   16. AT-AT at bat@AT&T Posted: October 05, 2012 at 11:57 PM (#4256382)
i thought the infield-fly rule was to "protect" runners from being doubled off by an intentionally dropped fly ball, which in this special case was not given. plus, the hand signal from the umps (2) came extremely late (not sure about voice obviously). not a good start for the one game wildcards (unless you love drama) and maybe MLB will learn from it and not let some clown proclaim afterwards "it just didn´t make sense" when it does, to baseball fans !
   17. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4256396)
I chatted with a very good, very experienced Little League ump about this rule a few weeks ago. He said that he'd been taught to call it on a shallow fly in the OF grass whenever the infielder can make the catch routinely while facing toward home plate. His explanation made perfect sense. If the infielder's back is to the infield, he presumably can't tell if the runners are running or tagging, so he can't "game" the situation by choosing to catch/drop the ball based on their position. If the fielder is facing the infield, he can see the runners and game the situation, so the rule is invoked to protect the runners.

Kozma was under the ball with "ordinary effort," calling it, and facing the plate, so the call had to be made and was correct.
   18. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4256398)
I read the thread before I saw the call, so I figured the SS was racing after the ball, rather than meandering back under it as he was. While the call was made too late* and a little deeper than usual, the call itself was fine. That's a perfectly legitimate use of the infield fly rule.**


Any play where the left fielder and shortstop could potentially collide kind of fails the definition of "ordinary effort". Also "infield".
   19. Mike A Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:03 AM (#4256401)
After the ump in the 1991 WS explained that the Gant/Hrbek play was the right call, I oddly don't trust umpires to tell the truth in these matters.
   20. Dale Sams Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:03 AM (#4256402)
*had*? No. It should be (not saying it is) It should be, can double up the runners with ordinary effort...which was not even remotely the case. They couldn't even think about getting *one* runner.
   21. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:03 AM (#4256403)
The "late" call was made as soon as an umpire determined that an infielder could make the play with ordinary effort - in this case, when Kozma camped under it and waved his arms. Technically speaking, the call could be made *after* the ball is caught or drops, though obviously that's a last resort if the umpire has blown the call and it results in a double or triple play.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:04 AM (#4256407)
I thought the infield-fly rule was to "protect" runners from being doubled off by an intentionally dropped fly ball, which in this special case was not given.


You can't intentionally drop any ball in the air (letting it hit your glove and dropping it) in the infield with just a runner on first. You can let one hit the ground unimpeded, then try to double up the runner.
   23. Tippecanoe Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:07 AM (#4256409)
"Ordinary effort" is a hazy term that is probably meant to allow for judgment. Which in this case was poor.
   24. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:07 AM (#4256411)
in this case, when Kozma camped under it and waved his arms.


Kozma was never camped under it. He never actually reached the spot where the ball landed. He waved his arms, but he sure as hell wasn't camped.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:08 AM (#4256413)
Any play where the left fielder and shortstop could potentially collide kind of fails the definition of "ordinary effort". Also "infield".


That is my complaint, you see that ball dropped routinely on accident, so I don't think it should ever be considered a routine play(or ordinary effort or however you want to word it)

I don't care how you try to justify that call, it was a bad call. It was a bad call. The umps figured in three plays in this game, one they were 100% right on (the runners interference) one they were wrong on, but it wasn't murderous(Calling timeout as the pitcher was in the wind up) and one that they were wrong on, and affected the very integrity of the game.
   26. MrMet33 Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:08 AM (#4256414)
2nd place teams are lucky to be in the playoffs in the first place. I don't believe they deserve any more than a 1-game series. The previous system was a load of crap - there was no advantage to winning the division (one extra home game?). At least the wild card game makes the non-division winner earn it a little more. The Braves didn't deserve anything because they won more games than the Cardinals. It's like saying The Cardinals World Series ring in 2006 didn't count because they were a .500 team heading into the playoffs.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:09 AM (#4256416)

Any play where the left fielder and shortstop could potentially collide kind of fails the definition of "ordinary effort". Also "infield".


Is this particular aspect of the rule that you've made up position-specific? How about a play where the third baseman and the shortstop could potentially collide?

It didn't take anything but ordinary effort for Kozma to catch that ball, no matter how many variables you want to throw into it. It was a routine pop up that he was slowly backing up to field. For some bizarre reason, he peeled off. That he failed to perform a rather simple task for an MLB shortstop doesn't make the effort required any more difficult.

As for the IF portion, the IF fly rule is not limited to the IF. Never has been, for obvious reasons.
   28. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4256419)
Also "infield".


Here is an excellent explanation of what happened and why the umps got it right. From that article:

Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) further specifies, "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."


It not only could have been in the outfield, it could have been caught by an outfielder and still have been an infield fly.
   29. Mayor Blomberg Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4256421)
To put Friday's controversial play into context, in the past three seasons, there were six infield flies that were not caught in the majors, according to Baseball Info Solutions, the longest measured at 178 feet.

Friday's infield fly was measured at 225 feet from home plate, according to Baseball Info Solutions.

Per ESPN
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4256422)
Kozma was never camped under it. He never actually reached the spot where the ball landed. He waved his arms, but he sure as hell wasn't camped.


The only forgiveness for this play/call is if Kozma and the ump both say that the ump was very loud and Kozma claims that the ump calling infield fly rule changed his route to the ball. I probably wouldn't believe it, if it was said, but it's about the only real reason for not redoing the play or more accurately just loading the bases with one out and playing it out from there.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:14 AM (#4256427)
2nd place teams are lucky to be in the playoffs in the first place. I don't believe they deserve any more than a 1-game series. The previous system was a load of crap - there was no advantage to winning the division (one extra home game?). At least the wild card game makes the non-division winner earn it a little more. The Braves didn't deserve anything because they won more games than the Cardinals. It's like saying The Cardinals World Series ring in 2006 didn't count because they were a .500 team heading into the playoffs.


Many people do try to say that the Cardinals world series doesn't count, or shouldn't count or it's the worse world series team of all time (note...with two weeks left in the season, the Cardinals had the second best record in the NL....they just stopped caring after that point)


I agree, this system is much better than the previous system. I'm still hoping to expand by two teams, go to four divisions and eliminate the wild card altogether(It won't happen, I know, as at that point they will just have a couple of wild card teams anyway) but until then, this method is the best available while maintaining some advantages to winning the division.
   32. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:14 AM (#4256428)
Kozma was backing up slowly to camp under the ball. For some bizarre reason, he peeled off.


Slowly? Oh no, that wasn't slowly.

Animated GIF of the play

He was racing back at full speed, and slowed down because he thought Holliday was calling him off. Also note in that GIF that Kozma never actually reaches the point where the ball lands (again, see the point where he thinks Holliday is calling him off) - if he were to actually catch that ball, he'd have to be backpedaling pretty quickly.
   33. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4256433)
The only forgiveness for this play/call is if Kozma and the ump both say that the ump was very loud and Kozma claims that the ump calling infield fly rule changed his route to the ball. I probably wouldn't believe it, if it was said, but it's about the only real reason for not redoing the play or more accurately just loading the bases with one out and playing it out from there.


The GIF I linked to in #32 shows Kozma giving up on the ball before Holbrook signals for the infield fly rule. I suppose it's possible Holbrook yelled something before his signal, but I doubt it.
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:19 AM (#4256438)
No more tomahawk chops for six months? I ain't complaining.
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:20 AM (#4256440)
He was racing back at full speed, and slowed down because he thought Holliday was calling him off.


Full speed? As your gif clearly shows, he was pursuing it with a mix of side saddle/back pedal. Unless he's Kevin Reimer, a ballplayer chasing a fly ball at full speed doesn't use that method of pursuit.

   36. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:22 AM (#4256445)
The GIF I linked to in #32 shows Kozma giving up on the ball before Holbrook signals for the infield fly rule. I suppose it's possible Holbrook yelled something before his signal, but I doubt it.


I do too.
   37. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4256447)
Full speed? As your gif clearly shows, he was pursuing it with a mix of side saddle/back pedal. Unless he's Kevin Reimer, a ballplayer chasing a fly ball at full speed doesn't use that method of pursuit.


I don't consider a mix of full speed side saddle and very quick back pedal (the latter necessitated by a somewhat incorrect route to the ball) to be "ordinary effort". And it sure as heck ain't slow.
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4256450)
The GIF I linked to in #32 shows Kozma giving up on the ball before Holbrook signals for the infield fly rule. I suppose it's possible Holbrook yelled something before his signal, but I doubt it.


I do agree with you there. I don't know what the hell Kozma was thinking, but it didn't appear to be a reaction to Holbrook.
   39. Mike A Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:25 AM (#4256451)
Love how the ump calls the IF fly after Kozma starts running forward and away from the ball. Good grief.

I read a quote where Kozma said he didn't hear anything, but I can't find it now. Maybe he redacted it, heh.

I just wish Holbrook had the ***** to admit he botched the call.
   40. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:28 AM (#4256453)
Am I the only one on the planet who doesn't think it was a bad call? The SS is camped under it. The umpire signals infield fly. The SS peels off.

The umpire is not supposed to predict that the SS who is camped under it really is unsure of whether he is going to catch it and is about to peel off.

I'm open to the idea that I might be wrong here, but what if the umpire had _not_ called infield fly and the SS dropped it on purpose and they turned a DP?
   41. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4256455)
The SS is camped under it. The umpire signals infield fly. The SS peels off.


The first sentence is incorrect, and the second and third are in improper chronological order.
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4256456)

I don't consider a mix of full speed side saddle and very quick back pedal (the latter necessitated by a somewhat incorrect route to the ball) to be "ordinary effort".


Maybe for you and I. For an MLB shortstop, routine effort was all it took to catch this ball.

And it sure as heck ain't slow.


Compared to turning and running after a ball*, yes it is.

* Which, itself, would constitute non-routine effort.

If you want to claim that this was too deep for an IF fly call, I wouldn't object. I think it's right at the borderline, but I can definitely see that argument. But I don't see any way this play fails the routine effort part for major league ballplayers.

Love how the ump calls the IF fly after Kozma starts running forward and away from the ball. Good grief.


As an official (soccer, but the process is the same), I don't think this is an accurate description. I've found there is a gap is between when you decide to make the call and when you signal/call it. I believe that Holbrook determined it was an infield fly before Kozma started running forward, even if his arm gesture follows Kozma's change of heart. It looks odd, but I don't think there's anything untoward about it in practice.

Am I the only one on the planet who doesn't think it was a bad call? The SS is camped under it. The umpire signals infield fly. The SS peels off.

Am I the only one on the planet who doesn't think it was a bad call? The SS is camped under it. The umpire signals infield fly. The SS peels off.


Jeez Ray, you are allowed to read the thread before posting. (-:
   43. Corn On Ty Cobb Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4256457)
It was a bad call, whatever. It happens. What's more appalling is Torre and Holbrook's complete refusal to admit they missed it.
   44. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4256458)
I just wish Holbrook had the ***** to admit he botched the call.


He really can't do that at least while the post season is going on. I mean he could if he really wanted to, but I don't see anyone doing that and letting the admit overshadow the rest of the series's(for a while) The call is going to overshadow the Cardinals/Nationals series as it stands. Although Bryce Harper is going to do his damndest to make the story about him (.429,.484,.750,1.234 career numbers vs the Cardinals.)
   45. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM (#4256463)
#41, the SS _was_ camped under it. Maybe I have the chronology wrong, though.

Is the problem that the call was late? That the ball was too deep? I don't really have a problem with either - Torre was right that it's a judgment call - but perhaps I'm wrong.

I did expect to see something far more egregious when I clicked on the video, though.

EDIT: Just re-watched it carefully. I do have the chronology wrong, but I don't see how that matters. The SS drifts back, camps under it, raises his arm that he's got it, and THEN the ump signals infield fly. Yes, by the time the ump signals infield fly the SS is peeling off, but that is not the ump's fault
   46. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM (#4256464)
Ray nails it at #40.

#42 - there's no provision in the rule for saying the ball's too deep for an infield fly. The rule says that if an infielder can catch the fly ball with ordinary effort, it's an infield fly no matter how deep or shallow the ball is, as long as it's fair.

You can say that's a bad rule, but that's the rule, and Holbrook called it by the book.
   47. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4256468)
#41, the SS _was_ camped under it.


I linked to a GIF of the play in post 32. Look at it.

Find the point where Kozma is farthest out. Then put your finger there. The ball lands beyond where you have placed your finger.
   48. Mike A Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4256470)
Never seen a IF fly call that deep. I'm not sure anyone has. And I disagree that Kozma was anywhere near camped. He was never camped because he never got to the ball. How can you be camped if you never get to where the ball lands?
   49. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:38 AM (#4256472)
The ball lands beyond where you have placed your finger.


About three to five feet behind Kozma, about a second after he was standing there. He's about six feet tall, give or take. He's in position to make the play before he bails.
   50. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:43 AM (#4256475)
He's in position to make the play before he bails.


Well, yeah. He can catch the ball, if he's backpedaling quickly enough. Whether or not the ball was catchable is not up for debate - Kozma can clearly catch it. The question is whether that's "ordinary effort" - I'd say no, given the distance he had to go.
   51. Rusty Mitchener Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:44 AM (#4256477)
Pretty sure Sam Holbrook is not a mute but whatever. Continue to pretend that his hand-signal is the end all be all if you are another biased fanboy.!
   52. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4256479)


Well, yeah. He can catch the ball, if he's backpedaling quickly enough. Whether or not the ball was catchable is not up for debate - Kozma can clearly catch it. The question is whether that's "ordinary effort" - I'd say no, given the distance he had to go.


I don't think so. In fact, watching that gif, I think I can see what Holbrook was thinking. When Kozma was pursuing it side saddle, he made no call. It wasn't until shortly after Kozma started to back pedal where he determined it was an IF fly. And I think that's correct (ignoring the depth of the ball itself). That shift to the back pedal sends a signal that the infielder "has it." I'm sure that's how Holliday saw it. I'm sure that's how the Braves runners saw it. And I'm sure that's how Holbrook saw it.
   53. Rennie's Tenet Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:49 AM (#4256480)
Never seen a IF fly call that deep.


I think it was a call that was right by the book, but that usually wouldn't be called that way because the responsible umpire would usually be trailing the play with his back to the infield. If they go to six umpires to enforce the book over the whole field, then I think it's a right call.
   54. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:51 AM (#4256482)
I linked to a GIF of the play in post 32. Look at it.

Find the point where Kozma is farthest out. Then put your finger there. The ball lands beyond where you have placed your finger.


I looked at the GIF, and I fully disagree. The SS was camped under it.

I've carefully considered this entire issue, and I have this to say:

Go home, Braves fans, and wait 'til next year. You did not lose on a blown call. The call was correct. Holbrook was correct. All six umpires were correct. And Joe Torre was correct. Your problem is with the rule, not with the call.

This is not Richie Garcie. It's not Don Denkinger. It's not Phil Cuzzi. You don't have to wonder What Might Have Been. You already know what was.

Go see Chipper safely off into the sunset, and then turn out the lights. You don't have to wish death on Frank Torre. You lost fair and square. You're out.
   55. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:51 AM (#4256485)
My god, I am in full agreement with SoSH.
   56. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:52 AM (#4256486)
Pretty sure Sam Holbrook is not a mute but whatever. Continue to pretend that his hand-signal is the end all be all if you are another biased fanboy.!


I'm sure he made a vocal call. I just don't think that was the reason Kozma pulled off, unless this lifelong infielder, for some reason, doesn't know how the infield fly works (and if so, we need to introduce him to Frank Robinson).

My god, I am in full agreement with SoSH.


Yeah, I'm thinking of showering.

   57. Mike A Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:56 AM (#4256491)
The problem is the rule is up for a lot of interpretation. And the fact that the rule has really never been used in this manner before (that I can remember, at least) is going to cause tremendous controversy.

I will stand by my belief that it was a bad call. I don't think Kozma ever had position, and I don't think it was ordinary effort.

And don't tell me to go home.
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:59 AM (#4256494)
And the fact that the rule has really never been used in this manner before (that I can remember, at least) is going to cause tremendous controversy.


A big part of that is because most high pop ups that the shortstop starts backing up to catch are subsequently caught, rendering the IF fly moot. The IF fly only matters when the ball hits the turf, which major league defenders are generally pretty good at preventing.
   59. Brian White Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:00 AM (#4256495)
I looked at the GIF, and I fully disagree. The SS was camped under it.


You must have some real funny definition of "camped".

Meanwhile, let's all marvel that the fact that the infield fly rule made the front page of CNN.
   60. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:03 AM (#4256496)
Brian - so what if the ball landed 3 feet behind where the SS was waving his arms? 3 feet behind when the ball is 100 feet in the air means he's under it.
   61. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:06 AM (#4256497)
Yeah, the main thing I see in that GIF is Kozma looking back at Holliday as if Holliday has called him off. Certainly doesn't seem to be a reaction to a possible verbal umpire call.
   62. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:07 AM (#4256498)
If Holbrook doesn't make that call, no one would have dreamed of claiming that the infield fly rule should have been called.
   63. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:13 AM (#4256501)
If Holbrook doesn't make that call and Holliday starts a 7-5-4 double play, you better believe Fredi Gonzalez would have been all over the umpires asking where the infield fly call was.

I wonder if we'll see a rule change in the aftermath of this. The rule governing the call is fine, but the result if the ball is dropped isn't fair. Why should the fielding team be rewarded with an out if they can't make the catch? If it's dropped, once the play is over, why not award the batter first and move up any runners as needed to make room for the batter?
   64. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:14 AM (#4256502)
I've carefully considered this entire issue, and I have this to say:

Ray, put a bullet in your head.
   65. PerroX Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:14 AM (#4256503)
I'm a Braves fan. They lost this game ten ways to Sunday. I don't like the IFR on that play, but it was within the rules, a judgement call. I'd prefer best of three, all games in better team's park. More legitimately baseball. Cut the season back to 154 games.
   66. PreservedFish Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:16 AM (#4256505)
If Holbrook doesn't make that call and Holliday starts a 7-5-4 double play, you better believe Fredi Gonzalez would have been all over the umpires asking where the infield fly call was.


But this never could have happened. This hypothetical is useless.
   67. PerroX Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:17 AM (#4256506)
I wonder if we'll see a rule change in the aftermath of this. The rule governing the call is fine, but the result if the ball is dropped isn't fair. Why should the fielding team be rewarded with an out if they can't make the catch? If it's dropped, once the play is over, why not award the batter first and move up any runners as needed to make room for the batter?


Concur. The play leaves a bitter taste in your mouth because the Cardinals didn't make the play and were rewarded. But no crying, the Braves legitimately lost this game. Win your division.
   68. Austin Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:18 AM (#4256507)
Yeah, I think the biggest problem is not that this was a bad call by the rulebook (I'm not convinced it was), but rather that it was an unconventional call. Calls in the postseason, on the biggest stage, should be in line with what we're used to and what's normally done. Fans and players will be happy with the fairness and results of the games if the calls "look right," even if they're technically wrong. And the last thing any sport should want is to have its officials end up center stage in the most important games of the year.
   69. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:19 AM (#4256508)
I'm a Braves fan. They lost this game ten ways to Sunday

memo to Braves fans--don't kick the ball around the infield on routine plays and this situation never comes up
   70. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:19 AM (#4256509)
I looked at the GIF, and I fully disagree. The SS was camped under it.
To be camped under it, you have to actually be under it. (It's right there in the phrase "camped under it.") The SS never got to where the ball landed. By definition, that is not camped under it.

Torre was correct; it was a judgment call that could not be protested. Holbrook was wrong; it was not a ball that could be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort. It did not satisfy the letter of the rule and certainly did not satisfy the spirit.
   71. PerroX Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:19 AM (#4256510)
This thread stinks, btw, a bad cross between lawyering and conspiracy mongering.
   72. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:19 AM (#4256512)
But this never could have happened. This hypothetical is useless.


If Holliday had continued coming full-tilt, he'd have either made the catch or (potentially) played it on one hop. If the latter, he gets the 7-5 force at third. If the runner on first headed back to tag, assuming that the ball had been caught (let's say it's a close catch/trap call), Freese might have a chance to force the runner at second for the DP.
   73. PerroX Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:20 AM (#4256513)
From Holbrook's position, which is not at all a normal position for an umpire to be in, the play was an infield fly.
   74. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:21 AM (#4256514)
A big part of that is because most high pop ups that the shortstop starts backing up to catch are subsequently caught, rendering the IF fly moot. The IF fly only matters when the ball hits the turf, which major league defenders are generally pretty good at preventing.
Right; that's because most such balls actually can be caught with ordinary effort, which major league infielders ordinarily make.
   75. PerroX Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:21 AM (#4256515)
And the fans behavior -- I feel like resigning from my lifetime rooting interest.
   76. SteveF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:21 AM (#4256516)
Ray, put a bullet in your head.


And I thought the political threads got rough!
   77. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:24 AM (#4256517)
They're doing a nice job on MLB Network explaining why it wasn't a bad call. Using footage from other games where they show that, when the ball is hit past the infield, the umpires often wait until it's clear that the infielder is slowing and getting in position before making the infield fly call.

I don't know that it matters that Kozma wasn't right under the ball when the call was made. That's not part of the rule - with ordinary effort, he ran back on the ball, slowed down as if to get under it, and the call was made. If he had taken 2 more steps back and had the ball hit off his glove, rather than peeling off and having it fall a couple of feet behind him, I think we'd still have seen complaints about the call.

Whether or not you think this was the right call depends almost entirely on whether you think Kozma was using ordinary effort to get back to the ball. Having watched the replay a few dozen times, it's pretty clear that he wasn't rushing back to get there - it was a normal infielder drifting back to catch a ball in shallow left.

(And I hate the Cardinals, so I'd have liked nothing more than to see them get screwed over here.)
   78. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:26 AM (#4256519)
And the fans behavior -- I feel like resigning from my lifetime rooting interest.

Where are the photos of Ted Turner & Jimmy Carter throwing beer bottles?
   79. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:29 AM (#4256520)
(Said in my worst Tom Hanks voice) There's no crying in baseball!

   80. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:31 AM (#4256521)
I wonder if we'll see a rule change in the aftermath of this. The rule governing the call is fine, but the result if the ball is dropped isn't fair. Why should the fielding team be rewarded with an out if they can't make the catch? If it's dropped, once the play is over, why not award the batter first and move up any runners as needed to make room for the batter?

On any other error, the hitter at least has to run to first, and the other runners have to advance as well. If they hit a fly ball to the outfield, and the OF drops it, you don't just move everyone up a base.

The infield fly rule protects the offense a lot more than it harms them, but this goes overboard in favoring them. It's basically a free play - if it's caught, you're no worse off than you would have been if there were no infield fly rule. If it's dropped, it's basically the same result as a base on balls - everyone moves up, free of risk of being put out.
   81. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:31 AM (#4256522)
(Said in my worst Tom Hanks voice) There's no crying in baseball!

no crying but plenty of whining
   82. Joe OBrien Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:37 AM (#4256524)
A big part of that is because most high pop ups that the shortstop starts backing up to catch are subsequently caught, rendering the IF fly moot. The IF fly only matters when the ball hits the turf, which major league defenders are generally pretty good at preventing.


The call has to be made before the ball is caught or hits the ground. If this was the correct call, we would see a lot of IF fly rules called on 200+ foot pop-ups.

If the call had been made shortly after the ball was hit, it would be a lot less controversial. If a ball can be caught with routine effort, you don't need to wait and see how fast the shortstop gets under the ball. That's the entire point of routine effort.

The fact that the ball was in the air that long and only one out of six umpires made the call is another sign it was the wrong call.
   83. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:40 AM (#4256525)
The infield fly rule protects the offense a lot more than it harms them, but this goes overboard in favoring them. It's basically a free play - if it's caught, you're no worse off than you would have been if there were no infield fly rule. If it's dropped, it's basically the same result as a base on balls - everyone moves up, free of risk of being put out.


Both of which are the expected results of a popup pursued with "ordinary effort" at the big-league level. Let's pull some numbers out of a hat - the exact odds don't matter much. You expect a catchable popup to be caught at least, say, 90 times out of 100. If there are 10 drops, the batter's likely to reach first at least 9 of 10 times. The rule change would do justice to 9 of those 10 drops, while giving the batting team an unwarranted advantage on 1 drop. The current rule does justice only in the single instance where the batter would have been thrown out at first on the drop, while unfairly penalizing the batting team on the other 9 drops.
   84. Rob_Wood Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:43 AM (#4256528)
The telling point is that the 3rd base ump did not call an infield fly. That is never ever ever an infield fly in regular season. The jackass left field ump had a brain fart. Anybody who argues that this was the correct call does not understand baseball.
   85. greenback calls it soccer Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:48 AM (#4256534)
Reading this thread is penance for Denkinger.

I saw Pete Kozma in the minors and was surprised by how bad his defense was. He has shortstop-class agility and has a good arm, but he had a way of botching 'ordinary effort' plays. So in the last year and a half he peeled off an easy pop-up in a playoff game for no apparent reason and he's broken Albert Pujols' arm on a routine groundball to 2b.
   86. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:48 AM (#4256535)
If the call had been made shortly after the ball was hit, it would be a lot less controversial. If a ball can be caught with routine effort, you don't need to wait and see how fast the shortstop gets under the ball. That's the entire point of routine effort.

You can't always tell where the ball will come down right after it's hit. Wind patterns, etc., can blow the ball in various directions (not to mention the umpires are often looking at it from an angle rather than straight on, may not pick up the ball right away off the bat, etc.). The umpires may not precisely know how each infielder was positioned for the pitch - playing deeper where they'd reach balls more easily beyond the infield dirt, or playing in, or in a crazy shift. And ordinary effort likely also varies by player - using the same level of effort, it seems likely that Ozzie Smith could camp under more balls to shallow LF than Dan Uggla would on a similar ball to shallow RF. Speed, instincts, positioning, experience with the field... these things might all help determine whether someone could reach a ball using ordinary effort, and they're not things that would be readily apparent right off the bat.

It's perfectly reasonable to let the umpire determine that the ball is capable of being caught by an infielder using ordinary effort before forcing him to make the call.
   87. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:50 AM (#4256537)
The call has to be made before the ball is caught or hits the ground.


I could be wrong on this, but I don't think the rule precludes a call after the ball drops. The rule states:

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.


It says "will be," which might imply that the call is made before the ball is caught or hits the ground, but doesn't explicitly state that the call can't be made after the fact (e.g., when an intentional drop results in a double or triple play, and the umpire hasn't called it before the ball hits the ground). The point of that sentence is to tell the umpire to make the call as soon as he makes the decision, rather than waiting for the catch or drop, so that the runners can react accordingly.
   88. Dan Evensen Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:51 AM (#4256538)
way to leave chipper, broken-bat up the middle-right, off-the-bag 1B-man and even then it looked like an out

That call at first was absolutely horrid. I swear, it looks like the first baseman tagged the bag TWICE before Chipper reached. Maybe it was the angle or something -- I don't know. Of course, if Chipper had actually run out the ground ball, it would have been closer.

The infield fly call, of course, was a blown call. Still, you can't put all the blame for the loss on that one call. Atlanta played a horrible game.
   89. JoeHova Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:52 AM (#4256539)
And the fans behavior -- I feel like resigning from my lifetime rooting interest.

Why? Pelting people who've displeased you with garbage is a time-honored tradition.
   90. Mayor Blomberg Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:52 AM (#4256540)
If Holliday had continued coming full-tilt, he'd have either made the catch or (potentially) played it on one hop. If the latter, he gets the 7-5 force at third. If the runner on first headed back to tag, assuming that the ball had been caught (let's say it's a close catch/trap call), Freese might have a chance to force the runner at second for the DP.

Except, no, on the "close catch/trap" Holliday (of all people) isn't throwing fast enough to start that DP. You've got a fielder coming fast, making a catch at grass level, then a transfer, then a throw. Is he standing up after the catch? Will he bother to regain his balance before he throws?
   91. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:55 AM (#4256541)
The telling point is that the 3rd base ump did not call an infield fly. That is never ever ever an infield fly in regular season. The jackass left field ump had a brain fart. Anybody who argues that this was the correct call does not understand baseball.

During the regular season, the 3rd base ump would have had to drift out a bit with the fielder to monitor the play. Here, he knew there was another umpire out there to cover that part of the territory. If the 3B ump ran out to stand next to the LF ump, and the ball fell and there was a play at 3B on the advancing runner, he'd be out of position to have to make the call.

That's why they add the extra umps in the postseason - more coverage, less requirement for umps to have to move around the field and potentially leave themselves out of position.

The argument that the wrong ump made the call, or that only 1 ump called it, is probably the weakest one I've seen. How many umps have to call something for it to be called? It's not majority rule, and there's no question that the LF ump was closest to the play.

(But of course, there will be no changing of anyone's opinions on this thread. If you think the ump was a jackass and your favorite team got screwed, then it's not going to really matter what the video shows or what anyone else says. If this had happened to my team, I'd be pissed right now too. Still wouldn't make it the wrong call.)
   92. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:57 AM (#4256544)
Why? Pelting people who've displeased you with garbage is a time-honored tradition.

I wish the people at my office felt this way. I'd go to every meeting with a bag full of apple cores to fling at people who won't shut up...
   93. Mike A Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:58 AM (#4256545)
Both Braves baserunners had read the play well. There was next-to-no chance at a DP unless Uggla trips or something.

One MLB.com writer said he'd never seen an IF Fly called this way in 54 years of covering the game. Sure, you can make some technical arguments about what the (somewhat vague) rule means, but tonight was basically a new interpretation of a very old rule. I don't think it cost the Braves the game, no, but it's still frustrating.
   94. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:01 AM (#4256549)
Except, no, on the "close catch/trap" Holliday (of all people) isn't throwing fast enough to start that DP. You've got a fielder coming fast, making a catch at grass level, then a transfer, then a throw. Is he standing up after the catch? Will he bother to regain his balance before he throws?


Is a DP likely? Hardly. Is it possible? Yes, especially if the runners are confused on a trap vs. catch.
   95. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM (#4256550)
Both of which are the expected results of a popup pursued with "ordinary effort" at the big-league level. Let's pull some numbers out of a hat - the exact odds don't matter much. You expect a catchable popup to be caught at least, say, 90 times out of 100. If there are 10 drops, the batter's likely to reach first at least 9 of 10 times. The rule change would do justice to 9 of those 10 drops, while giving the batting team an unwarranted advantage on 1 drop. The current rule does justice only in the single instance where the batter would have been thrown out at first on the drop, while unfairly penalizing the batting team on the other 9 drops.

You're too focused on what happens to the batter and completely ignoring what happens to the other runners in your calculation. With 2 runners on (or bases loaded), a ball that is dropped and quickly picked up could easily result in a double play. Now the batting team is much worse off than they'd have been with the batter just being automatically out. (Remember - if you change the rule, it has to apply to all infield flies, not just ones that are 50 feet behind the infield.)

If there are runners on 1st and 2nd, and a pop up is hit right out over the second base bag, all the fielder would have to do is let it drop, pick it up, tag the runner, and step on 2nd. (Or, if the runner reacted quickly enough to move a few feet toward third in the time it took the fielder to pick up the ball, he could step on 2nd for the force and then throw to 3rd to catch the runner in a rundown.)

I think you'd see a lot more double plays without the infield fly rule than you'd see instances where everyone advances safely (assuming that the in-between situation - the ball is dropped, the batter reaches, but one of the other runners is forced out - is basically neutral for both teams and can be ignored for purposes of this discussion).
   96. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:22 AM (#4256554)
UCCF, I'm not advocating getting rid of the infield fly rule - you absolutely need the rule, for all the reasons you mention. My suggestion is only that when a ball that is called an infield fly is dropped, the result should not be an out for the batting team. Once the play is over and the ball is dead, the batter would be awarded first base instead of being called out, with runners moving up as needed to make room for the batter (as on a HBP). Any runners that have already advanced on the live play would not be forced to go back.
   97. A Dying Soul Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:32 AM (#4256556)
I'm in no ways a braves fan, but that was a terrible call. I thought a big part of the IF rule was to let the runners know that it was going to be an out so they decide wether to advance or not. By calling it so late, doesn't that defeat the purpose? It's obvious the ump just had a brain fart or something, but it seems like all these extra umps on the field just end up screwing up (like with the Mauer call)

Just sad to see it happen in a 1 game playoff.
   98. ColonelTom Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:39 AM (#4256557)
The runners still have to tag up if it's caught, so as long as the call is made before the ball is caught or drops, it doesn't make much difference.
   99. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:40 AM (#4256559)
If that was an "ordinary effort", then I'm the Sultan of Brunei. The Braves played a horseshit game and probably deserved to lose anyway, but they should've been allowed to lose on their own merits. It shocks me that so many people here are on the wrong side of this.

Also, the fans were absolutely right to throw garbage in response, and my only regret is that the ump only got hit by one bottle. He deserved a brick in the face - maybe it'd shake loose some common sense.
   100. zachtoma Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:46 AM (#4256560)
It shocks me that so many people here are on the wrong side of this.


Don't you know? - being a contrarian means you're smarter than other people.
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