Tag Archives: St. Louis Cardinals

And now…stay classy Atlanta?

11 Oct

About a week ago St. Louis and Atlanta squared off in the first game involving Major League Baseball’s new Wild Card playoff round.  The single game, winner-take-all format was created to duplicate the drama from the last day of the 2011 MLB season.  Well, drama is what they got, albeit the result of controversy instead of say a pitcher’s duel.  In the bottom of the 8th inning, Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons hit a shallow fly ball into left field.  St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma was on the verge of catching the ball when all of a sudden he ran forward and the ball dropped between he and St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday.  Atlanta, already with one out in the inning, had runners on both first and second base at the time.  The crowd roared due to the unexpected error making the bases loaded.  It wasn’t until the scoreboard operator placed a “2” next to the number of outs that they realized something else had happened.  That something else was 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.

In obvious protest, the Atlanta fans decided to litter the field with anything they could get their hands on, stopping the game for almost 20 minutes.  St. Louis went on win the game and Atlanta filed a formal protest with Major League Baseball which was denied.  Thus, the big talker over the next several days was about this particular and rarely called rule.  Most chose to focus on the fact that the umpire didn’t make the call immediately or that the shortstop’s effort running into left field to make a catch was considered “ordinary”.  I personally focused on the position of the catch, err, almost catch.  The St. Louis fielders were more than 50 feet from the dirt path that marks the infield.  Since the infield fly rule was created to protect the runners, I was asking the question aloud to myself- “What benefit would St. Louis had gained if the rule wasn’t called?”  They certainly would not have had enough time to achieve a double play.  At best they could have gotten the lead runner out at third base.  How were the runners protected in this situation?  Anger in Atlanta will live on, the rule’s debate will live on…until the next sporting controversy.