- Associated Press - Saturday, October 6, 2012

ATLANTA (AP) - The NFL replacement refs are not there to kick around anymore.

Not to worry.

A familiar target has emerged.

Instead of guys wearing stripes, it’s the men in blue.

Major League Baseball found itself embroiled in another postseason maelstrom over umpires _ and renewed calls for increased use of instant replay _ after a disputed infield fly call led to mayhem in the stands in the one-game, winner-take-all playoff in Atlanta.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Braves 6-3 on Friday, advancing to the division series against the Washington Nationals. But this landmark game _ the debut of the wild-card playoff under baseball’s expanded postseason format _ will long be remembered for a ruling by Sam Holbrook in the eighth inning.

Andrelton Simmons hit a pop fly that dropped safely in left field after a mix-up between two fielders, either able to have caught the ball easily. Holbrook ruled the batter out anyway under the infield fly rule. The fans at Turner Field went nuts, littering the field with beers cups, buckets of popcorn and anything else they could get their hands on, leading to a scary, 19-minute delay.

Almost as quickly as the field was covered in trash, there were immediate comparisons to the NFL’s referee debacle. Someone at Turner Field even held up what was apparently a hastily crafted sign: “Replacement Umps??”

Former Braves outfielder Dale Murphy, who won two MVP awards in the 1980s, weighed in on Twitter.

He wasn’t alone.

“Oh my,” Murphy wrote. “Not believing this. Calls an infield fly when the ball is almost on the ground?”

“One game elimination and a call like that is made? Inexcusable,” Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

“Wow. Infield fly on a 200 footer,” added Arizona pitcher Daniel Hudson.

Even out in San Francisco, where the Giants host Cincinnati in Game 1 of the NL’s other division series on Saturday, the call in Atlanta had everyone’s attention.

“I didn’t know it was an infield fly,” reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. “I don’t even know how an infield fly is an infield fly. I don’t know where the line’s drawn.”

Story Continues →