If you’re like me, watched the beginning of the Braves-Cardinals wild card play-in game, then had to leave for a while, then came back later, turned the game back on, and found it was delayed because fans had thrown so much debris on the field that action had to be halted to clean it all up, you probably thought, “What the hell is going on?” Well, this is what was going on: in the bottom of the eighth inning trailing 6-3, the Braves had runners on first and second with one out, and the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons popped up to left field. From there, hell broke loose:
Just… what? They called the infield fly rule on a ball that landed there? To be clear, a ball doesn’t have to land in the infield for the infield fly rule to apply, but it does have to land somewhere where the umpire judges that an infielder could have caught it with “ordinary effort.” Generally, balls that land in the middle of goddamn left field do not meet this standard. For whatever reason, this one did.
So the majority of the stadium was pissed, and rightfully so. The fans were so pissed they started throwing things on the field, which is never a good thing at all, but we entirely understand their being angry. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was so pissed that he informed the umpires that the rest of the game would be played under protest. And lest you think I’m a Braves fan and am only deeming this a terrible call because it screwed my team, 1) I’m not; 2) watch the video again HOW DO YOU CALL THAT AN INFIELD FLY; 3) check this out. No one thinks this was a good call.
Because it wasn’t. The Braves got screwed. They just lost (protest pending), by the way (more debris rained down on the field as the game ended and the Cardinals raced off as soon as the final out was recorded- come on, guys). There’s no guarantee they would have won had they not been screwed, but having the bases loaded with one out is a whole lot different than having runners on second and third with two outs. Congrats to the Cardinals (protest pending), we guess, but… how in hell do you make that call?
UPDATE: One other note here – the umpire didn’t make the infield fly rule call quickly, and making the call quickly is a key component of making the infield fly call. This was an all-around disaster. Oh, also the protest was already denied. So… at least that call was made quickly.