I'm still at a loss. I can't get my head around what happened at Turner Field Friday night. I was confident that the Braves would win. The way the game unfolded? No words.
Well, maybe a few.
I will say this first. The Braves were not at their best. Three errors and ten left on base leaves a team at a huge disadvantage. But what about momentum? The Braves had it on their side in the eighth inning. And then it was lost on a call. A call that will live in infamy.
Down 6-3 with runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the eighth, Andrelton Simmons hit a fly ball into the outfield. The outfield. The ball dropped between outfielder Matt Holliday and shortstop Pete Kozma. Braves fans went nuts! The bases were now loaded with Brian McCann stepping in to pinch hit. Momentum was on our side!
Then the unthinkable. The bizarre. The unexplainable.
Left-field umpire Sam Holbrook called it an infield fly. WTF!?! The ball was a good 60 feet into the outfield. Now instead of having the bases loaded with one out, the Braves had runners on second and third with two out. The shift of momentum had begun.
Braves fans were incensed and it was made known! It was like nothing I've ever experienced. A barrage of cups, beer cans, coke bottles and trash were all thrown onto the field to a soundtrack of shouts, curses and screams. The game was halted. The players cleared the field and the grounds crew cleaned the debris.
Eighteen minutes later play resumed. The momentum had shifted 180 degrees.
Yesterday and today I read and watched everything that I could about the incident. I knew what I thought and felt about everything, both the call and the reaction. But what about those who are more knowledgeable than I? Was it the right call? Were the Atlanta Braves fans a disgrace and an embarrassment? I needed to know.
From my "research", baseball insiders and analysts were divided 50-50 on the veracity of the call. The infield fly rule is, in itself, vague. To have it have such massive implications on a game of such importance is unacceptable. Something has to change.
As for the reaction of Braves fans, I'm proud of my peeps. Atlanta fans have been criticized for decades for not being "good fans". Friday night our passion shone through. What I find funny, is that if this had happened in either New York or Philadelphia, it would have been acceptable. It's ok when Yankee or Phillies fans react strongly. But Atlanta fans? Apparently not.
And now on to my other point of contention. The one game playoff between two wild card teams. It's wrong. Two teams that play 162 games in a season SHOULD NOT have their seasons hinge on one game. Football, sixteen games, one game playoff, yes. Baseball, 162 games, one game playoff. NO. My feelings regarding this don't stem from this game. Revisit my post from March 11, 2012. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.
I'm realistic. Before the incident, the Braves had already dug themselves a pretty deep hole and the Cardinals were playing well. But in the eight inning the Braves were digging themselves out of that hole. Just like they had done so many times throughout the season.
Would the Braves have won without the infield fly call? No one knows. That said, as the Cardinals celebrated their win in the locker room they weren't chanting "happy flight." They were chanting "infield fly."
That speaks volumes.