The Atlanta Braves are rarely known for sparking controversy or complaining when things don't go their way. However, as Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" suggest, team president John Schuerholz is starting to change the old Braves' policy and is speaking out on the infamous infield fly call made by Sam Holbrook in the 2012 Wild Card game.
"I thought it was a misapplied ruling and some of that might have had to do with the positioning of the umpires, because of the addition of the two umpires where they don't ordinarily umpire a game," Schuerholz told braves.com. "We had two umpires stationed in the outfield and the perspective they have of a fly ball or the infield fly rule is different than when they are positioned on the bases. I don't think the call was appropriately made and I don't ever criticize umpires. Who knows we might have rallied and scored five runs? Nobody knows for sure. But I know we would have won the game if we would not have made three errors, despite the inappropriate infield fly call."
Holbrook's call, which was met by a formal protest by the Braves, came with one out and the bases loaded in the eighth inning of the Braves' 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Andrelton Simmons hit a fly ball near the middle of left field, and although shortstop Pete Kozma was approximately 250 feet away from the plate when the ball fell, Holbrook made the call from the left field line.
So instead of trailing by two with the bases loaded and one out, the Braves had runners on second and third with two outs for Brian McCann. They also had a 19-minute delay while fans threw debris on the field.
Schuerholz was also quick to point out what he views as the unfair nature of a one-game playoff.
"Some people say that is patently unfair because the record in baseball is based on 162 games. What happened to the sanctity of that?" Schuerholz said. "Some felt more strongly about that than others. But then there is the excitement factor of this one playoff game. If it had happened two seasons ago, we would have loved to have this system in place because we would have gotten in the playoffs."
The commissioner's office rejected the Braves' protest, citing that it was a judgment call. The Cardinals went on to defeat the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series and they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series. However, these facts do not mean that the Braves would have had a nice playoff run. Regardless of the infield fly call, they were still down two runs against the Cardinals, and the Braves' next batter could have easily grounded into a double play to end the comeback attempt.
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