Outfield Fly…whoops…Infield Fly Sparks Controversy

Devon TeepleAnalyst IOctober 7, 2012

According to 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. 

I’m as disappointed as any Braves fan around. How can an infield fly be called when the ball traveled more than 200 feet? Pete Kozma, the Cardinals shortstop who is the bane of my existence right now, was making a play on a routine/extraordinary pop up/fly ball. And sure-handed Matt Holliday was obviously coming in to make one of his routine catches. 

Did the expected happen? Not exactly! 

Kozma backed off and let the ball land between himself and Holliday.

In the heat of the moment, passionate baseball fans weren’t thinking with a clear head and made a mockery of the game by littering the field. 

Fans are obviously passionate about the game, but that does not give us the right to throw bottles or anything on the field. Regardless of what happened, the sun will rise; we all go to work, and the players move on to the next game. 

Replay or additional umpires have been suggested, and that might be the case considering the significant amount of errors that have taken place over the past few years; 

  •       Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga’s Perfect Game
  •       Doug Edding and A.J. Pierzynski’s swinging strike three
  •       Tim Tschida and Chuck Knoblauch’s phantom tag
  •       Tim Welke and first-base call in Colorado
  •       Too many to call from the 2009 postseason 


Is the answer instant replay? 

I don’t think so. 

Aside from replays on questionable home-run calls, baseball seems reluctant to join the other major sports in using the tool. Because of human error we remember games that happened years ago.

Would they be as memorable if things went according to plan? Would we remember Eric Gregg’s strike zone if it wasn’t so terrible? Would the Yankees dominance in the late '90s have even started if Jeffery Maier didn’t interfere with the ball in play? 

The call on the field was obviously very controversial and will go down in history as a terrible call, but it did not cost the Braves the game; it was the errors that did them in. And so far, baseball has stuck by its guns and has not gone to instant replay. 

Maybe it’s for the best. No one is perfect—not the players and not the umpires. You can’t question every ball and strike, and if the umpire blows a call so be it; it’s happened before and it will happen again.

That’s what separates baseball from the rest and why it’s history can be recalled at any moment.

Devon is a manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario, Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.