Infield fly rule call mars Cardinals-Braves wild-card game
The Cardinals just beat the Braves in the first-ever National League wild-card game, but it will go down in history for a different reason. There was a controversial infield-fly rule called in the bottom of the eighth inning.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma drifted back into left field, and well, here it is:
The umpires called the infield fly rule. Here is the rule in its entirety, per the MLB rulebook:
An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare "Infield Fly" for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare "Infield Fly, if Fair."
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.
Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder?not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. 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. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire's judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately.
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence.
The Braves filed an official protest, but it was denied almost immediately after the game by Major League Baseball, according to Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, per multiple reports. The ruling was likely pretty easy, because judgment calls by the umpires cannot be overturned, and it says pretty clearly in the rule above that this is a judgment issue.
Braves fans showed their dismay with the call by showering the field with trash and debris, causing a 19-minute delay as both players and umpires left the field to protect themselves. Here are two pictures of the debris, from US Presswire:
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