Daily Archives: October 5, 2012

Bad Defense, Bad Call and Bad Behavior: Braves Fall to Cardinals after Bad Infield Fly Call

Plop… the Infield Fly that Wasn’t (Getty Images-TBS Screencap)

“The best umpired game is the game in which the fans cannot recall the umpires who worked it.” Bill Klem

The Atlanta Braves lost to the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 6-3 in the National League Wild Card “Play in Game.” It was a game marked by incredibly bad defense on the part of the Braves, an extremely bad “Infield Fly Rule” call by Left Field Line Umpire Sam Holbrook and a 19 minute trash throwing delay by fans that I never thought possible in Atlanta. I thought I that a bunch of Philadelphia Eagles or Flyers fans had been transported to Atlanta for the game.

Braves starter Kris Medlen took the loss giving up just three hits but 5 runs, only 2 of which were earned. The Braves, including legendary Third Baseman Chipper Jones committed 3 errors which contributed to the loss.

In a normal situation this wouldn’t sound like a controversial. However the Braves, trailing 6-3 with runners on first and second with one out Braves Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was called out on a shallow fly ball to left field which fell between Cardinals’ shortstop Pete Kozma and Left Fielder Matt Halliday. It looked like the Braves had the bases loaded with only the one out when Left Field Line Umpire Holbrook made a late call for a “Infield Fly Rule” which caused Simmons to be out. The Braves fans went crazy forcing the players off the field as cans and bottles were thrown with wild abandon.

Turner Field ground Crew picks up the trash in the 8th inning (US Presswire) 

After the delay the Cardinals brought in closer Jason Motte who was able to work his way out of the inning. Motte then put the Braves down in the 9th despite giving up a broken bat infield single to Chipper Jones in his last at career at-bat and a ground rule double to Freddy Freeman to get the save.

The infield fly rule is designed to protect the offense from a fielder that intentionally drops or misses a pop fly in order to get a double play. On the play it is to be called early enough for runners to be able to have the opportunity to advance at their own risk. Likewise the fielder must be reasonably be in a position to make the play without undue effort. That certainly was nit the case. The call came as the ball was almost on the ground when the call was made and it certainly was not in any sense of the word a routine pop fly.  The MLB Rule Book reads:

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.

Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez put the game under protest but his protest was denied.

With the win the Cardinals move on to face the Washington Nationals in the NLDS on Sunday. The Braves and their future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones are now done for the season.

Tough Night for Chipper (Kevin C Cox Getty Images)

The game was not decided on the bad call alone. Jones committed a key error on a double play ball that allowed the Cardinals to rally and take the lead. Likewise the Braves managed to load the bases in the bottom of the 8th after the call but could not plate a runner, nor did they score in the 9th. The Braves had 12 hits to the Cardinals 6 and left 12 men on base. Teams do not commit that many errors or leave that many men on base without paying for it.

The behavior of the Braves fans was something that I never expected out of them. The reaction to the call was shameful and I think unfitting to honor Chipper Jones.

Appropriate credit has to be given to the Cardinals under rookie Manager Mike Matheny who despite the retirement of Manager Tony LaRussa and the loss of Albert Pujols to free agency fought hard to gain the final National League Wild Card berth.

I am a fan of having the Wild Card playoff but I wonder if a one and out format is the best. Maybe a three game series is better.


Padre Steve+


Filed under Baseball

Thoughts on the First Debate: More Reasons to Be Careful of What You Vote Against


“Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.” ― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

I did not watch the Presidential debate Wednesday night. Not one minute of it. Neither did I watch the coverage of the debates by any news outlets, liberal or conservative. Somehow I think that doing so in such a poisonous political climate is bad for the soul. However while watching the Major League Baseball Channel I did occasionally check my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline.

What I saw on those made me really glad that I didn’t watch. I made a comment on my Facebook page that I wasn’t going to watch 90 minutes of political spin. The current debate formats used by every news network ensure that not only the candidates get to spin their stories but “spin rooms” are set up so all of the candidates surrogates can spin the debates. The media, liberal and conservative, mainstream, lame stream and weak stream love the spin rooms because for them this is money and power.

So I didn’t watch. I talked to a few friends today and got their take and finally this evening I watched some coverage of the aftermath and did a little reading. I got the message. Mitt Romney “won” the debate by flipping the etch-a-sketch. After months of pandering to the hard right he flipped to the center with enough force that it almost made the President’s head spin. It was like he was the old Massachusetts Governor Romney again, the one that he cast aside to win the nomination. From the pictures of the debate that I saw as well as the few clips that I watched tonight on appearance Romney stole the show. But I wonder how short lived the post debate “Romney kicked the lazy, incompetent, disengaged, protected not a real President’s” ass will last.

What really got to me about the responses I read last night in real time on Twitter and Facebook was the absolute willingness of the most extreme partisans on both sides to say the most hateful and outlandish things about the other candidate or their positions.  Not only was much of it hateful, but some was positively racist. Yes there were some that were trying to stay on actual policies but most seemed content to act like drunk football fans dissing the other team and some of the nastiest of the bunch were Christian clergy.

I wonder when people who really didn’t like Romney but supported him because they thought that he supported their interests will do when they see that when push comes to shove he, like so many politicians will toss them over the side to get elected. We know that in the primaries that many in the GOP, especially in the more Libertarian Tea Party and Social Conservative Evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic circles at best were tepid in their support of Romney if not outright hostile to his candidacy. But after they couldn’t nominate a non-Mormon anti-Mitt they gathered around Romney because of their opposition to Obama.

To me it now looks like Romney is doing the proverbial side step and is about to do whatever he needs to do or say to win the election, even if it means offending various GOP constituencies. Personally I don’t blame him if he does. Some of the things that he endured from people in his own party during the primaries, especially from Evangelical Christian leaders were shocking. The religious intolerance alone from some Evangelical leaders was frightening. So if Romney is able to turn this around and win I doubt that he will remain beholden to such people for long.  Unlike some I don’t think that Romney is running simply to help his fellow rich people. I think that he sees the Presidency as the pinnacle of personal success and if he is elected I know that he will want to go down in history as a great President. I may disagree with many of his policies and even some of the things that he has done, but I don’t think that he is in the race to lose, or should he win to fail as President.

That will be the ultimate irony of the campaign. That united by hate for a President tat they do not deem legitimate, that many find repugnant simply because of his race that they elect a man that will use them to get elected and then toss them and their agendas aside.

If nothing else Romney is a smart and ruthless businessman who is willing to play a zero sum game to win and should he be elected to do whatever he needs to do to be successful. He understands Machiavelli and he is willing to do the things that he needs to do to win.  In Massachusetts that meant universal health care and being “soft” on birth control and abortion. He also did what he needed to do to balance the state budget including revenue increases. Before the convention every time he or one of his staff tried to move toward the center in even the smallest way they were smacked down by the right wing of their party and conservative ideologues. Judging from the transcripts of what Romney said last night it sounded to me like he has now made that move. He will still try to placate some on the right but be certain he will do whatever he needs to win now, especially since he is trailing in the battleground states where he cannot win without moving to the center.

I have always said that people need to be careful of what they are voting against because they just might get it. My guess is the no matter candidate wins the election in November that the religious partisans of the Christian right will be the losers. They will have sold their soul for the sake of their political power and will come out on the short end of the equation. I think Jesus mentioned something somewhere about those that gain the world but lose their soul….

Those are just some thoughts after all, one of these guys is going to be the next President and whether or not he is “our” candidate he will still be President. So be careful what you vote against, you just may get it.


Padre Steve+

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Filed under christian life, News and current events, Political Commentary