The National League Wild Card game was delayed for more than 15 minutes after debris began raining down at Turner Field. Fans erupted with boos after a pop-up dropped between shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday.
Atlanta Braves fans threw cans and anything they could find onto the field after umpires called an infield fly rule on a pop-up that was well into left-center field.
The call didn’t end the threat for the Braves, marking only the second out of the inning.
It did create a delay in the game and reversed what would have been a favorable one-out bases loaded setup into a two-out with runners on second and third situation.
According to the official MLB Rules, an infield fly is determined by the following:
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.
MLB's Comment: 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.
The discrepancy that’s being contested is the judgment of the umpire as to whether or not the infielder could have “easily handled” the pop-up.
Not sure that was 'ordinary effort' from the shortstop Kozma twitter.com/BleacherReport…— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 6, 2012
Also, a player can advance at their own risk in the event of an infield fly rule so that runners have the ability to tag-up or advance bases. That wasn’t the case because there was an initial delay in the call and the runners were not given that opportunity.
Atlanta protested but ultimately ended up on the losing end of their plea at the obvious displeasure of Braves fans. Still, the remainder of the game was carried out under an acknowledgement of protest from the Braves' bench.
The MLB wasted no time in denying the protest following the game. ESPN and others confirmed this via Twitter shortly after the game had been decided.
MLB denies the Braves' protest of controversial infield fly call, citing it as an umpire's judgment call » es.pn/PGq4Zc— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 6, 2012
Cardinals pitcher Jason Motte ended up striking out the side, adding more fuel to the fire of the controversial call.
The disputed delay interrupted and impacted the game at a very crucial moment and ended up being the difference maker. Who knows what could have been if the Braves were given that call. They would have had the bases being loaded with only one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and an entirely different mindset as their chances of advancing to the NLDS expired.
Mike Hoag Jr. is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site.