- Obama encourages ICE to stand down, say former border agents
- Pro-Palestinian protesters attack Israeli soccer team in Austria match
- Virginia police: 2 dead after storm at campground
- Ukrainian prime minister announces resignation
- House members question $17 billion VA request
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo launches statewide task force to collect LGBT data
- Obama’s motorcade prevents woman in labor from crossing street to hospital
- Grijalva: Anti-trafficking law ‘line in the sand for many of us’
- Joe Biden: ‘Businesses are hiring at historic rates’
- Jeb Bush to Congress: Don’t use border crisis as excuse to delay immigration reform
Controversy follows infield fly rule to Nationals-Cardinals NLDS
Question of the Day
ST. LOUIS — Thirty hours earlier, a battered yellow taxi carried a question through mid-afternoon traffic in Atlanta. Why, the driver wondered, would Major League Baseball do this?
“You play 162 games in the regular season,” he asked, passing a legless woman rowing her wheelchair with a six-foot branch, “and it comes down to one game?”
The new one-game, winner-take-all wild card format of the expanded postseason baffled the man. So many of baseball’s quirks and surprises, evened out over the season’s five months, could rear up in such a game. This game seemed like nothing more than a crapshoot. He creaked to a stop across the street from Turner Field, where hours later the man’s worry came to life as the St. Louis Cardinals survived the infield fly rule and debris and delay to end the Atlanta Braves’ season.
That earned the Cardinals Sunday’s matchup with the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium in the best-of-five division series, along with lingering controversy.
“It was just a boring game,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman deadpanned after Saturday’s workout at Busch Stadium, “where nothing crazy happened.”
One eighth-inning call by left field umpire Sam Holbrook –nat and the ensuing 19 minutes of rage that turned much of the field into a refuse depository – shifted attention from commissioner Bud Selig’s latest gimmick to the 355 lawyer-like words of the infield fly rule. And, of course, the usually-docile Atlanta supporters who rained cans and bottles of every variety onto the field to protest the ruling.
“I never saw them get that fired up,” said Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, who played parts of four seasons in Atlanta. “It was kind of good to see.”
One season sputtered out. Another jolted to life. Both teams could point to Andrelton Simmons’ pop fly that came to rest between two would-be fielders in shallow left field as a critical, but not deciding, moment in a game where the winner-go-home format magnified each mistake. The cushion of a five- or seven-game series disappeared. And Cardinals manager Mike Matheny worried about late-game bullpen strategy along with how to get his players safely off the field if Atlanta supporters lost control again.
To a man, the Nationals insisted they didn’t care if they faced the Braves or Cardinals. Matchups didn’t matter. They watched as fans. The high drama and higher stakes attracted them.
But the game also opened the mystery of when, exactly, is an appropriate time for an umpire to call an infield fly. A full understanding of the rule is tough to find in a clubhouse.
“I don’t really know the rule,” Zimmerman admitted.
“I don’t fully know the rule,” LaRoche concurred.
“It’s so hard to argue against,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said, “because it’s based on (the umpire’s) judgement.”
The rule starts: “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 …” But ultimately, the decision rests with the umpire, in this case, working the left field line as part of the expanded six-man postseason crew. LaRoche wondered if Holbrook being in a position he doesn’t occupy during the regular season led to a distorted view of the play.
The “ordinary effort” bit sparked Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez’s failed attempt to protest the game. Was Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma’s effort “ordinary”? Was the ball hit too deep for the infield fly to be valid? Did Holbrook signal the fly “immediately” or, as it appeared, did he wait until the ball almost finished its descent?
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Declassified cables from Berlin Wall tell tale of drama, dare,
- Judge denies settlement motion in NFL concussion lawsuit
- Jay Gruden's long and winding road to Washington
- FENNO: Championship game provides an opportunity to listen to those who play
- FENNO: For Redskins, nonsensical is the new normal
Latest Blog Entries
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Obama dispatches researchers to border to check on National Guard
- Whistleblowers flood VA with lawsuits despite apology
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Conservative groups decry Democrats' 'war on women' tactic
- Obama says public not familiar enough with issues
- Astronaut shares 'saddest photo' from space: Bombs bursting over Israel, Gaza
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq