Unlike the diamond itself or the concepts of ‘out’ and 'safe,’ the Infield Fly Rule is not necessary to the game. Without the Infield Fly Rule, baseball does not degenerate into bladderball the way the collective bargaining process degenerates into economic warfare when good faith is absent.
Once the piece gets away from baseball and starts talking about things like “laws” and “society,” I quickly had no idea what was going on and began thinking of things like “What if my dreams were somehow an alternate universe version of myself living life?” But if legality is your thing, check it out.
I don’t care that Sam Holbrook defends his ridiculous, wrongful call. What else can he do? He can’t undermine his authority for the remainder of his professional career. But I saw his reaction as he watched the replay on the Turner Field scoreboard. He knew he blew it.
I don’t care that Joe Torre, MLB and the umpires on the field supported Holbrook’s ridiculous, wrongful call during their post-game press conference. Again, they have no choice but to do so. The fact is though, at that moment, at game speed, the only one who raised his arm was Holbrook, who was stationed halfway down the third base line in the outfield.
I don’t care that the runners were able to advance on the play. Holbrook took away one of the Braves remaining outs, leaving them with just four instead of five with the bases loaded. According to Dave Cameron of the USS Mariner blog, the Braves chances to comeback and win were reduced from 22% to 9%.
The great @dcameronfg says the Braves’ win probability swung from 22% to 9% because of that call.
I don’t care that the Braves’ three errors are the real reason the Cardinals won the game. Holbrook didn’t cost the Braves the game, but he took away a real chance at redemption.
I’m still angry.
I’m angry because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has to be the happiest and most relieved person in professional sports, because as bad as the replacement refs were, at least they didn’t directly and controversially affect the outcome of a playoff game.
I’m angry because several Atlanta Braves fans (not all) at Turner Field demeaned themselves by throwing debris onto the field and causing a 19-minute delay. Cardinals fans at Busch would never have done that. This ain’t soccer, Raider football or Philadelphia!
I’m angry because several Cardinals players starting chanting “Infield Fly!” during their post-game celebration. I have nothing against the Cardinals (that pompous, arrogant ass LaRussa is retired now), but that’s just wrong. It reminded me of when Matt Holliday, then with the Rockies, returned to the field to step on home plate long after the post-game celebration following the Wild Card tiebreaker game of the 2007 season between the Rockies and Padres (Holliday was ruled safe by the normally reliable home plate umpire Tim McClelland even though Holliday never actually touched home plate).
(Sidebar: new rule - never get involved in a land war in Asia, and never go up against a team with Matt Holliday in a Game 163)
I’m angry because an umpire out of position made a ridiculous, wrongful call. An outfield umpire should be ruling on fair or foul balls, fan interference, ground rule doubles, and home run verification, not calling infield fly. The first base umpire doesn’t call balls and strikes for the same reason - it’s not his call.
And I’m angry because Holbrook’s call was ridiculous and wrongful. There is nothing ordinary about an infielder ranging more than 75 feet into the outfield to attempt to catch a fly ball. There is nothing immediate about making a call at the literal last second on a fly ball that was in the air for seven seconds.
many times in my life i have felt like i was missing something, some essential piece of the puzzle that everybody else carried around with them without thinking about it. i don’t usually mind, since most of those times it turns out to be an astonishingly stupid piece of humania like understanding the infield fly rule or not going all the way on the first date.
but at other times i feel like i am missing out on a great reservoir of warm wisdom, the lore of some sense i don’t possess that humans feel so deeply they don’t need to talk about it and can’t even put into words.