I understand the purpose of the infield fly rule. A pop fly that could otherwise be easily caught might be intentionally dropped in order to make a double play. The rule exists to protect base runners, even though it worked against Atlanta tonight.
Sam Holbrook made a very late infield fly call deep in left field. The commentators keep saying the rule can apply anywhere on the field, but I’m not buying. (It’s very title is the infield fly rule.) The call was wrong and was made late. Atlanta fans threw bottles and cans onto the field, causing an 18 minute delay in the game. I keep hearing how embarrassing this is and bad form for Atlanta fans and I’m not buying that either. No reaction is strong enough. The other umps could have reversed the call, MLB could have reversed the call especially after the Braves continued to play the rest of the game under protest. More than a bad call, this particular decision could have been a game changer. If the call had been reversed, the Braves would have had the bases loaded with one out. Two men on with two out is a totally different scenario.
The Braves made several errors. So did the Cardinals to be fair. But they all pale in comparison to the infield fly call by Sam Holbrook. I don’t think he should be calling MLB games. Furthermore I do not understand the mentality, especially in baseball, that officials can do no wrong. The NFL apologized after the Monday Night Football incident with replacement refs, even admitting that the Green Bay Packers should have won the game. But they didn’t change the decision. Baseball needs instant replay. After tonight, I think baseball needs instant replay and some type of third-party arbitration. How do you argue with the guys that decide who wins the argument?
Boo Sam Holbrook, boo hiss. Please stay away from Atlanta for a very long time.
From Sports Illustrated:
Holbrook erred in invoking the infield fly in that situation for two reasons. The first was that Kozma, though he did ultimately appear to be in position to catch the ball, had to race well into shallow leftfield to make the play. The infield fly rule specifically states that it is to be used on a fair fly ball “which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.” Kozma’s was not an ordinary effort (which was the argument Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made in his protest, which was quickly overturned by the MLB officials on hand). Second, the rule states that “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.” In this case, Holbrook didn’t signal for the infield fly rule until the ball was more than half-way through its descent, mere moments before Kozma flinched and the ball hit the outfield grass. -Read the full article here.