Penatly on the Major League umpire for delay of game

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's not often that baseball becomes a topic of conversation this time of year as temperatures cool off and sports enthusiasts gravitate to football.

But what happened in the game between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals deserved some air time and will probably change the way the infield fly rule is interpreted.

Trailing 6-3 in the eighth inning, the Braves were attempting to rally with runners at first and second and one out when Andrelton Simmons hit a lazy fly ball between St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday and shortstop Pete Kozma. Kozma retreated some 90 feet beyond the infield dirt and as he stopped, left-field umpire Sam Holbrook raised his hand to signal that the infield fly rule was in effect. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground and an out was recorded, the runners pinned to their original bases.

Instead of having bases loaded and one out for Brian McCann, who was third on the team in home runs, the Braves were left with runners at second and third with two outs. McCann reached to load the bases but Cardinals closer Jason Motte fanned Michael Bourne to end the threat, and the Braves season.

As a fan of the game and an umpire for 10 years, watching the replay of Holbrook raising his arms sent chills. You could almost see him getting into position to make that call as it developed. It's almost as if he had his mind made up before it happened.

The infield fly rule was installed to prevent the defense from purposefully dropping a fly ball with intent of turning a double or triple play. The rule says that any ball that can be reached by normal effort of an infielder qualifies. Kozma never even made it to the ball, even after running full steam, backwards, for more than 90 feet.

Human error cost one team a chance to continue its season. It also ended the career of one of the best third basemen, Chipper Jones, to ever play the game. It took a team that won 94 games out of the post-season.

One call.

With the National Football League's gaffs on replacement officials and now Major League Baseball getting in on the act, I keep waiting on the referee at an NFL game to turn his field mic on and say something to this effect..."We have three seconds in the lane against the St. Louis Cardinals. There will be a 15-yard penalty, three free throws and penalty kick...Repeat fourth down."

Oh well, at least it's one day closer to another Saturday of college football.

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Chan Davis is the Sports Editor for the Carroll County News. He can be reached at or 870-654-2742.

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