By In Stuff


Friday night was, um, you know, something. Well, I’ve never hidden the fact that I don’t like the one-game wild-card playoff idea. I tend to believe that baseball isn’t a one-game-playoff kind of game. It’s too volatile. Terrible teams beat great teams all the time. I think a baseball season is the longest in sports for a good reason. It takes a long time to work through the anomalies, the absurdities, the quirks. It takes a long time to find out which teams are really the best.

Sure, every now and again, after that long season, two teams tie and they play a one-game playoff, and it’s wacky and fun not because it’s fair but because it’s rare. Now, it’s not rare — it will happen twice every year. To me, these one-game playoffs feel trumped-up and forced and gimmiccky …

… but, hey, it’s extra baseball, right?

* * *

The infield fly rule, you certainly know, was created because players kept purposely dropping fly balls in order to turn cheap double plays. This was in the late 1800s. Through the years, the infield fly rule has been invoked more by writers than by umpires — writers either trying to make a point about the bizarre intricacies of baseball (“Try explaining the infield fly rule to someone who just moved to this country”) or trying to give baseball gravitas to a certain person (“The candidate is fluent in four languages, has read Ulysses and can explain the infield fly rule”) or simply as a catch-all American thing (“We are a nation of jeans, barbecue and the infield fly rule.”)

The rule is simply this: When there is a force play at third base (so, with runners on first and second or the bases loaded) and fewer than two outs, any pop-up that the umpire judges that an infielder can catch with ordinary effort shall be declared an “infield fly.” The batter is automatically out. As an almost pointless after-effect, if the infielder actually catches the ball, the runners can tag up (they never do). If the infielder does not catch the ball, the players can run at will, though of course they could not have known that he would drop the ball while it was in the air.

In other words, the infield fly rule is one of the most boring plays in all of baseball.

Except … on Friday night in Atlanta.

First, I should say something: Even as a kid, I never liked this rule. That is to say, I never understood why the batter was automatically out on infield fly balls. It seemed to me, even then, that it would be just as easy to ask an umpire to judge if an infielder dropped the ball on purpose as anything else. If he drops it on purpose, everybody should be safe — including the batter. Why should an infielder be granted the catch because he might have ideas of cheating the system? I don’t get it, and I never did. This is like granting a golfer an automatic two-putt from 30 feet away because otherwise he might cheat and give himself a one-putt.

The key phrase of the rule is “ordinary effort.” On Friday night, eighth inning, Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons — who had a rough night overall, with an error and a running-inside-the-baseline call — faced a full count with runners on first and second, one out, and the Braves trailing St. Louis by three. Obviously, this was a key moment in the game, and it was amplified by the fact that the Braves — despite finishing six games ahead of the Cardinals in the standings — were on the brink of being eliminated because they had played one astonishingly dreadful game.

So Simmons popped up. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma took 10 steps into the outfield — on about the eighth step he lifted his right hand up as if to say, “I’ve got it.” Only he didn’t. Kozma freaked out, took three panicked steps forward, and the ball dropped behind him.

‘The bases are loaded!,” the TBS announcers shouted, the Braves announcers shouted, the Cardinals announcers shouted …

… only, they weren’t. Left field umpire Sam Holbrook had signaled that the infield fly rule was in effect.

Insanity! Disorder! Garbage! Protests! A good camera angle shows that Holbrook lifted his arm at almost precisely the instant when Kozma panicked and peeled off. But, I’m sure the inspiration to call the infield fly had occurred a beat or two earlier, when Kozma raised his arm to say that he had it. Holbrook’s thought process isn’t hard to follow. The rule says that a ball that can be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder in that situation has to be ruled an “infield fly.” In the flow of the moment, it obviously looked to Holbrook as if Kozma would catch the ball with ordinary effort.

However, in review, it’s a ludicrous call. For two reasons: One technical, the other more important. The technical reason: Kozma had to run at least 50 or 60 feet into the outfield to catch the ball. I don’t see a convincing argument that it was an ordinary-effort play. There is no official scorer on earth who would have given Kozma an error on the play, and in fact there was no error given on the play. I would argue that Holbrook just lost his bearings — the play built up pretty slowly, and I don’t think Holbrook appreciated just how far Kozma had to run, how difficult the angle was. The ball landed several feet BEHIND him. That’s why the fact that Holbrook signals for the infield fly at the very moment when Kozma realizes he can’t catch the ball is telling. Such judgments are hard.

But the second reason seems more compelling to me. Why do we have an infield fly rule in the first place? Sometimes it seems like we let process overwhelm purpose, we allow the letter of the rule to be more important than the spirit. Why is there an infield fly rule? Because more than 125 years ago, fielders would purposely drop balls in order to get cheap double and triple plays. And without the rule, fielders would be trying to do the same thing today.

Where Simmons’ ball was hit, was a double play even possible? No. If runners are paying attention, there is no way in the world that Kozma could have dropped that ball and gotten a double play. Heck, from out there, it would have been hard for him to purposely drop that ball and even get one out. The focus of the call has been around those words “ordinary effort,” and that’s a worthwhile discussion point. But if you go beyond the specifics of the rule and back to the heart of it … calling an infield fly on that ball was egregious. It was putting a vaguely worded rule ahead of the essence of the game.

I don’t know if the other umpires could have overruled the infield fly or if Holbrook could have taken it back. But it seems to me, within only a few seconds, everyone on the field should have realized that calling the infield fly was a mistake, and it would perhaps cost Atlanta its last-gasp chance of saving its season. But they didn’t overrule it, and maybe they couldn’t. Atlanta put the game under protest. Fans threw garbage on the field. The Cardinals won and are going to the real playoffs. It shouldn’t have come down to the interpretation of an obscure rule, but this is baseball, and it did.

* * *

Josh Hamilton, as we know by now, is a man cursed with demons. He has fought with drugs and alcohol, with some soaring victories and some harsh setbacks. He watched with unchecked horror as a fan, reaching for a ball that Hamilton tossed into the stands, fell and later died, a tragedy that was not his fault and yet, according to friends and his own words, has haunted him deeply. As a player, he has gone through titanic stretches when no player in baseball could touch him, and dark stretches when he couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield. In so many ways, he really has been as close as we have to Roy Hobbs, the player in “The Natural,” who hits crazy long homers when the lady in white stands up, but swings and misses when beguiled by the lady in black.

It was sad to see Hamilton booed on Friday night. It was sad not just because it was probably his last game for the Rangers, and his Texas career shouldn’t end like that. And it was sad not just because he looked so feeble — a double-play grounder, a strikeout looking, a first-pitch tapper back to the mound and finally, the last at-bat, a swinging strikeout — that booing seemed just about the only viable response.

No, I think it has something to do with the curse of expectation that seems unique to certain baseball players. Everyone knows that a hitter fails more often than he succeeds. You will hear people say that a hitter fails seven out of 10 times — that’s the .300 batting average talking — but this is not true, not if you count walks. Still, even counting walks, even counting sacrifice flies, even counting sacrifice hits, except in the rarest of circumstances (19 times in baseball history), the batter will make an out more often than he will do something productive.

We know this to be true, and yet, there are certain players — because of their athletic grace, their beautiful swing, their seemingly effortless power, an ineffable flair — who don’t seem like they should be shackled by those rules of baseball gravity. We may know in our minds that they will fail, but we just don’t think that they should fail WHILE WE ARE WATCHING. Duke Snider was one of these players, and I always was fascinated by Roger Kahn’s description in “The Boys of Summer,” of how Snider’s talents baffled and frustrated a sports columnist named Bill Roeder.

“Watching Duke Snider turned Bill Roeder sardonic. The Duke could run and throw and leap. His swing was classic; enormous and fluid, a swing of violence that seemed a swing of ease. ‘But do you notice when he’s happiest’ Roeder complained. ‘When he walks. Watch how he throws the bat away. He’s glad.’ Roeder would have liked to have Snider’s skills, he conceded. If he had, he believed he would have used them with more ferocity. Snider was living Roeder’s dream, and so abusing it.”

This, too, seems to be what Josh Hamilton has had to live with. He’s so big, so strong, so fast, so smooth, that when he fails it feels like more than just the failure that comes with baseball; no, it feels to so many like he is squandering his extraordinary talents. His 2012 season was the most extreme of his already extreme career. He hit more homers than ever. He struck out more than ever. He drove in runs at a higher rate than Miguel Cabrera over the season. He drove in just one run in the final four games, and Texas lost them all and fell out of the playoffs. He had Olympian months. He had Lilliputian months.

On May 16, he was hitting .404 with 18 homers in 35 games. For the next 65 games, he hit .214, and Texas manager Ron Washington dropped him in the batting order. The next 35 games he hit .300 with 13 more homers. He hit just one homer in the last 14 games, including Friday night’s playoff game, and it ended with another strikeout and boos and sadness and, perhaps, people imagining just how good they would be if only they had Josh Hamilton’s talent.



We’ll post some of your Miguel Cabrera MVP thoughts soon, but for now I did want to point out an irony about advanced statistics and the Triple Crown. As we know, there are many people who are blaming WAR and those duplicitous advanced statistics for undervaluing the Triple Crown, and many of these people desperately want the baseball writers — who vote for the MVP — to ignore those numbers and look inside themselves for the real truth about what the Triple Crown means.
Not counting Miggy, there have been nine Triple Crown winners since 1931 — the first year of the BBWAA MVP award. OK? Nine.

Number of Triple Crown winners who led every-day players in WAR: 9.

Number of Triple Crown winners who led league in OPS+: 9

Number of Triple Crown winners who won the MVP: 5.

Yup. Chuck Klein didn’t win the MVP in 1933 (Carl Hubbell did). Lou Gehrig — in perhaps the most ridiculous vote of them all — did not win the MVP in 1934 (he finished fifth, as Mickey Cochrane won it). And Ted Williams did not win the MVP in either 1942 or 1947 (Joe Gordon won in ’42, Joe DiMaggio in ’47).

49 Responses to Wild

  1. n17317 says:

    The main reason I thought it was a ludicrous call is that the umpire is supposed to call an infield fly “immediately” (, which he did not do.

    As far as the Triple Crown goes … why RBIs and not, say, runs?

  2. ribender says:

    I disagree that the official scorer would not have scored it as an error, if Kozma had continued to attempt to catch the ball. He was in place to make the catch, but thought he was called off. Doesn’t matter how far he had to run, he ran to the spot, arrived in time, gathered himself and called off the outfielder. Taking all that into consideration, had he continued to try and catch the ball and failed to do so, he would have been given an error, and rightfully so. But when he peels off, that is an error of judgment, which cannot be scored as an error. The umpire wasn’t wrong with his call, but his execution of calling it was terrible.

    And I’m saying this as someone who was rooting for the Braves …

    • Owen Ranger says:

      If you look at how far the ball was hit, I think Joe’s right, that the Cardinals probably don’t even get the one out by letting the ball drop, because both runners were already halfway to the next base (something that they would obviously never do on a pop-up near the infield). In that prism alone, then, the call ludicrous, especially since Holbrook didn’t make it until the ball was almost back down to earth. The rest of the umps and Torre decided to stick by their guy stubbornly even though the call was patently wrong.

  3. I think Holbrook just forgot he was an ump in right field. He’s used to being near 3rd base and didn’t realize how far Kozma had ran.

  4. I’ve heard Matthew’s explanation, but I think there were further complications due to the extra umpire’s position. Kozma peels off immediately before Holbrook’s hand signal. Umpires usually make a vocal call before their hand signal mechanic. I wonder if Kozma wasn’t thrown by for the first time in his baseball playing life a voice in his vicinity was not his teammate calling him off (and in the din of the stadium who knows if he could discern direction).

    And Joe there’s no error because he did not touch the ball. Not that that’s in the rulebook, but that’s the general application by official scorers. I think if Kozma had stayed and had the ball glance from his glove an error was the more likely call.

    Finally, while Fredi protested on a judgement call (which one just can’t do), I believe Matheny had grounds to protest the outcome if, as was speculated on the TBS telecast, he did feel he needed to change pitchers due to the delay caused by Braves fans. If that was the case, the Cardinals were placed at a competitive disadvantage by the Braves failure to provide a secure field of play.

  5. macomeau says:

    The biggest problem I have with the call was the last thing Joe touched on. The rule exists to prevent cheap double and triple plays. Not only was there no cheap double play last night, the Cards couldn’t record even a single out on the play. Rather than giving the Braves an out to save them from two, the umpires gave them one to save them from zero.

    All that said, I saw some of Chipper’s press conference after the game and he nailed it better than anyone commenting had that night: if the Braves hadn’t made several terrible errors, they probably wouldn’t have had to worry about a bad infield fly call.

  6. Troy says:

    Why shouldn’t there be a rule that the “Infield” fly rule only be called by “Infield” umpires. It’s common sense. Outfield umps should make fair/foul, home run, and good catch/trap fly ball calls only. I think this is a case of an umpire who’s used to making a ton of calls, not having much to do. His natural instinct is to make a call when he gets an opportunity.

  7. Matt says:

    I think it was called correctly by the rules, but still unfortunately for the Braves because it didn’t actually end up protecting the runners.

    I also think the IFR is dumb. I keep hearing it would lead to lots of triple plays. Why? Just have the trailing runner advance halfway to second, and keep the others close to their bags. If the ball is caught, the trailing runner might get doubled up, but the others will be safe. If it is not caught, the lead runner is out, and (if the bases were loaded) *maybe* the runner behind him.

    At best those are double plays; double plays happen all the time with multiple runners on. And nothing is guaranteed, because the players still have to execute. Last night, players from both teams show how difficult that can be.

    What am I missing? Or, what were the players in the 19th century missing?

    • Dave says:

      Yeah the IFR is dumb. It should be erased from the rule book. As Joe points out it’s the most boring play in baseball.

      And so what if it leads to triple plays? That’s what the batter deserves for hitting the ball so weakly. Without the IFR infield popups would become one of the more exciting plays with runners having to decide whether to advance and the infielders having the choice to catch or drop the ball.

    • Uther says:

      So you want every popup to turn into a double play? If the trailing runner is half way to the next base, he’ll be doubled off on any popup in the infield. Sorry that’s a ridiculous idea.

    • brhalbleib says:

      I am betting that the infield pops we see batters hit today that go as high as the top of the stadium did not exist in 1895. Softer ball, pitchers not throwing as hard. Their popups simply weren’t as high. In that environment, it would seem easier to double up a runner with a clever infielder (btw, I suspect that they didn’t let the ball freely bounce, instead they probably were adept at squatting and trapping the ball on the short hop, making a play on the runners a lot easier)

    • Dave says:

      Uther, it’s ridiculous to stop play because it would be easy for the fielder to turn a double play on a ball that was weakly hit. Why bail out the hitter who failed?

      It’s also ridiculous that the the umpire has to make the call by judging whether it’s easy for the fielder to catch the ball.

    • Uther says:

      Dave, how is the present rule bailing the hitter out? You’re talking about a huge change in the game. Under you’re idea just about every popup with 1st and 2B or bases loaded would turn into a double play.

    • Dave says:

      If the infield fly rule were erased from the rule book, a popup with runners on base would usually lead to a double play. With the IFR there’s always only one out on the play. The rule prevents the double play that the hitter deserves.

    • Uther says:

      Wow, you have some strong feelings about popups and what the hitter “deserves”.

  8. Kansas City says:

    Great posts and comments. I had not thought about the fact the umpire was in the unusual positon of left field and would have a distorted or at least unusual perspective on the play. He was late with the call, but if he had been a count later, he would have seen the shortstop peel off and probably not made the call. Joe’s point that there was no double play risk is paramount, although technically not part of the rules. It is the class judgment call. The umpire was too active and it produced a bad call. Of course, it was just a pop up and the Braves deserved an out.

  9. Michael says:

    All very interesting. I ended up last night holding Atlanta and Texas baseball fans in contempt, Braves fans for throwing things on the field and Rangers fans for booing Hamilton, who obviously didn’t go up there trying to strike out. I was just re-reading Ted Williams’s autobiography, in which he discussed why he would not tip his cap, and when I had read it years ago I realized that booing someone for trying and failing is unacceptable; booing someone for NOT trying is what we should do.

    As for Atlanta, Joe got partway there. Let’s work from this question: how often does Sam Holbrook umpire on the left field line? The answer is, only in post-season. According to the almighty Retrosheet, he has umpired six major league games in left field, all in the post-season. Not that the solution is to rid ourselves of the extra umpires, but where they are positioned does have an effect. Rich Garcia, one of the most respected umpires of his time, blew the call when Jeffrey Maier reached out and caught the ball in the Orioles-Yankees playoff game in 1996, and it has been said then and since that Garcia didn’t have his normal angle on that play, as he would have if he had been coming out from first or second.

    Now, the response may be, let them adjust. They try. But if you think it’s easy, I’d encourage you to try it. Or try it in real life. If Joe Posnanski had to start covering the presidential campaign tomorrow, I have no doubt he could do it and in wonderful literary style, but I wonder how up he would be on the campaign operations the day he got there.

    • m w says:

      Try watching Hamilton on a day to day basis. There wasnt a lot of “trying”. Ask his teammates if they saw him studying opp pitchers pregame. He deserved those boos.

  10. pwk says:

    I was initially upset at what I felt was an obvious wrong call – but when I watched Harold Reynolds’ detailed and clear explanation on why the call was applied correctly, I changed my mind. Ironically, the one call the umps got wrong in the game went in favor of the Braves (Chipper being safe in his last ever at bat).–mlb.html

    I agree though, that the infield fly rule does seem a bit silly, per Joe’s thoughts. But it does appear that Holbrook interpreted it correctly.

  11. Joe – I agree that the infield fly rule was probably the wrong call, but I think you are wrong in suggesting that Kozma panicked. It is quite clear from a review of what happened that Kozma was totally under control (he is a rookie, yes, but very poised and a good, steady fielder), he was going to make the catch, but he peeled off thinking that Holliday had called him off, when in fact what he heard was the umpire calling an out. This is not too difficult to understand given the loud crowd noise. If the ump doesn’t do or say anything, Kozma makes that catch and the Braves have runners of first and second with two outs instead of second and third with two outs. So, in actuality, the call turned out to be a break for the Braves, which they failed to capitalize on. And frankly the reaction of the Braves’ fans was embarrassing to the city of Atlanta and a disgrace to baseball. It is also ashame that the knuckleheads who threw debris on the field ruined the last game Chipper Jones will ever play.

  12. David Dorsey says:

    Micheal, if you think Texas fans are booing Josh Hamilton for 1 strikeout, you are horribly uninformed. Hold Ranger fans in all the contempt you like but the victim is the Ranger fan, not Josh Hamilton.

    Hamilton in his own words took June and July off, then seemingly quit on this team down the stretch. From his issue with caffeine which forced him to miss a week of division games in September (while Adrian Beltre was fighting much worse injuries and playing trying to play through them), to his “performance” in the final two weeks.

    1 strike out? Hardly. A season’s worth of apathy. Texas fans loved Josh Hamilton. For us to boo any Ranger is reserved specifically for those that quit on us or the team.

    Hold us in all the contempt you wish but know the facts.

  13. Scott says:

    Good article on this well worn topic. That was the craziest baseball game I’ve ever seen, and haters of the one game playoff could not have been given a better example of everything that is wrong with it. Honestly, I still agree with the one game playoff because as a proponent of it, I could not have a better example of why settling for the wild card is a horrible idea and teams need to fight for thewir division. Let’s face it, before this innovation teams were wrapping up the wild card early and ignoring the division lead far too often. The ;last month of the season was looking a lot like Nascar before the Chase, with teams shutting it in and coasting to a predetermined conclusion. It takes the duress of putting them in a truly punishing situation to force competition for division wins, and I’m OK with that even if the cost of having the regular season matter is putting teams in an awful situation. After all, they had an opportunity to win themselves into a better one, didn’t they?

    On another note, seriously, stop quoting the fact that WAR and Triple Crown coincided so often in the past. Either you believe that statistical analysis matters in this discussion or you don’t. You can’t place such a high value on advanced statistics and make this argument about WAR and the Triple Crown. 9 previous winners plus Cabrera is far too small a sample to provide value here and you very well know it. We don’t know if Cabrera is the outlier or an indicator of a change or part of an overall trend that was masked by a group of outliers in the early portion of the count. Of the many absurdities in this argument about Triple Crowns, MVP’s and Advanced Stats one of the greatest is the speed with which Advanced Stats proponents abandon the stat arguments to either turn the stat into a justification for an eyeball test or misuse the stats in ways that render them irrelevant or misleading.

  14. chrisbid says:

    I agree, change the infield fly from an automatic out to simply awarding all runners one base when an infield fly is dropped.

    • KHAZAD says:

      This is an excellent idea. This would save any drama from purposeful drops to get extra outs, but still force the infielder to make the catch.

      I also agree that the Umpire lost his sense of perspective on the call because of his positioning. That was the kind of bloop that often leads to a hit, whether because they can’t get to it, or because it drops between the two fielders or results in a collision from lack of communication.

      The Braves did lose by 3, but, with the extra out, if everything had happened the same, they would have ended up down by 2 (or 1 if Jones scores on Ugglas grounder in the ninth) with the tying run on 2nd (or third if both runners advanced) and a shot to tie it with 2 outs. (Or win it with a home run)

  15. Navarchos says:

    Ah, Joe, yer killin’ me. Read the IFR in the context of the rest of the rules of the game, and you’ll see that the potential for a double play, even though it was the original purpose of the rule, is conspicuously absent from the calculation. The rules ask the umpires to determine intent and potentiality all the time (balks, intentional vs unintentional baserunner interference, the IFR’s lesser-known corollary in the dropped-ball rule). The infield fly rule could have been written to limit its application to only situations when the umpire thinks the defense may be able to generate two bogus force-plays by letting the ball drop. It doesn’t. So it was the right call as a zillion people have explained. The umpires are not granted authority to waive the letter of the rule in favor of applying their personal notion (let alone sportswriters’ notions) of the spirit.

    And yes, as you point out, it comes down to what’s deemed ordinary effort; you say that running 50 or 60 feet (or 80 or whatever it was) chasing down a popup shouldn’t count. I say nonsense. The rule expressly calibrates “ordinary effort” to the expected degree of skill for the level of the game, and I think we can reasonably expect a major leaguer to be able to run thirty yards in 6.1 seconds with time to spare (if I can do it, certainly a professional athlete can).

    Think of it another way: if there are no runners on, and thus no infield fly potential, we are calling this a horrible play by Kozma (some of us still are), not an unfortunate inability to get to a Bermuda Triangle floater. That means we expect that ball to be caught by *someone* who could as easily be an infielder as an outfielder. So we have: 1) a fly ball that 2) can be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder with 3) runners on first and second and 4) less than two outs. We have an infield fly. The batter is out. And we want the umpire to magically intuit what a bunch of drunk vandals in the crowd will interpret as “fair”–while the ball is still in flight, mind you–and apply that standard instead of the one in the rulebook?

    Truly we live in interesting times. And now a bunch of people are speculating about the impact of umpire positioning? I just… gah!

    • KHAZAD says:

      The call was crap. It probably didn’t make a difference in the outcome, but it was crap.

      I have seen countless bloops in the same type of depth in the outfield, in the correct base/out situation, and the IFR has NEVER been called. It would have been called a hit rather than an error if the IFR had not been applied. (another rule that uses “ordinary effort” in it’s description.)

      The key is this: If the IFR had not been applied, and the Braves had somehow come back and won, Kozma might be looked at as a goat, but there would be no controversy anywhere. Not one journalist would say that the Cardinals got hosed because of the IFR. It wouldn’t even be brought up. (Though we would be hearing about the Chipper Jones play in the ninth forever)

  16. MCD says:

    What’s the “except for 19 times in baseball history” phrase referring to? I’m lost.

  17. Gary says:

    Here is how I view whether Holbrook made the right call or not: If Kozma had peeled off a few steps earlier and Holliday come in to catch the ball in the exact same spot, would the umpire still have called an infield fly? There is no requirement that an infielder catch the pop-up; the key is the distance where an infielder with ordinary effort could have caught it.

    In the comments about the rule in the official baseball rules, the same section that talks about ordinary effort, it states that “the umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder.”

    So if Holliday had caught the ball in the same spot the umpire should have also ruled it an infield fly. But would he have? I doubt it. I can’t remember ever seeing an infield fly called when an outfielder is moving under it. Even popups behind second base, when a centerfielder makes a running catch on it, are seldom ruled infield flies, even though infielders routinely do range out that far.

    • Navarchos says:

      Operative phrase being “makes the catch.” A caught infield fly is never noticed as being an infield fly, since the result is the same. Infield fly situations (baserunners and outs) alone are relatively rare, popups even more rare, and missed popups exceedingly rare. I haven’t been able to find enough tape of routine pop-outs (with umpires in frame to see if the IFR is being applied) to get a firm idea of what generally is or isn’t called infield fly; if you have, please link.

    • Navarchos says:

      To clarify the third sentence: popups in infield fly situations are rarer than either popups in general or infield fly situations.

    • Gary says:

      You are right, of course, that the situation doesn’t occur often because placing runners on first and second isn’t as common. But it does happen often enough to not be a rarity. I don’t know of any links since highlight reels don’t often include routine outs. I’m basing my thoughts on personal experience of having coached 25 years at the high school level and watching hundreds of games on TV and live.

  18. brhalbleib says:

    Hmm, here’s the thing I have yet to see a sabremetrically inclined person discuss, and I think I know why (because it ruins the narrative that the Braves got screwed), using statistics, what was the likelihood that a team down by 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th with the bases loaded and one out wins the game as opposed to a team down by three runs in the bottom of the 8th with runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs. My guess is not that much difference. The differnce in the game was the Braves lousy infield defense, not the bad call by the umps. (something that Cardinals fans should remember when they disucss 1985, btw)

    • Stephen says:

      Dave Cameron (sabermetrically-inclined)tweeted this immediately 9% vs. 22%. And it’s been repeated elsewhere. (and that’s not before & after as abadenoughdude is saying, but compares the two possible “afters”).

      Not sure how you’ve arrived at the conclusions that those who are sabermetrically-inclined tend to buy the “Braves got screwed” theory more than those who are not so inclined.

    • brhalbleib says:

      Thank you. And yes, I was interested in the two afters, not the before and after, which is less interesting (and more readily found, it is in the play by play on

      I didn’t mean to imply what you said in the 2nd paragraph. I am quite sure the non-sabremetric writers whole heartedly believe that the Braves were likely to win if the play hadn’t occured. I just expected the sabrematricians to loudly point out that the Braves chances had went from unlikely to very unlikely with the call and I didn’t see a lot of that.

  19. Fangraphs had the Braves at a 22% chance of winning the game before the play happened, and a 9% afterward.

    If you don’t think a slightly better than one in five chance is significant in comparison to a slightly worse than one in ten chance, I don’t know what to tell you.

    • brhalbleib says:

      I didn’t know the numbers, which is why I asked, but no a 4 in 5 chance of winning a game compared to a 4.5 in 5 chance of winning a game really isn’t all that much different.

  20. Tampa Mike says:

    I really dislike the extra wild card team. You play 162 games to figure out who the best teams are. They need fewer teams in the playoffs. If it were up to me, I would go back to pre-1994 division rules and only have 4 teams in the playoffs… Just the LCS and World Series.

  21. Paul says:

    I think the Infield Fly Rule is fine as long as it happens just like it’s name says — in the INFIELD. That ball was waaaaay in the OUTFIELD. Chipper was right, though — the call wasn’t THE reason the Braves lost, it just was a piece of the whole picture of why they lost.

  22. Joseph says:

    In the northern area of Pakistan there are very unique wildlife the precious animal is Markhor i recommend to book
    flights to islamabad if you would like to explore wildlife.

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