Despite playing their National League Wild Card game under protest, the Atlanta Braves' hopes of getting the result of the game overturned will never work.
MLB has already denied protest— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) October 6, 2012
The play happened in the bottom of the eighth when Andrelton Simmons popped up to shallow left field with runners on first and second base, one out.
Cards shortstop Pete Kozma chased after it, only to allow it to drop between himself and left fielder Matt Holliday.
It was unexpected to say the least, and just when it seemed the Braves had bases loaded with one out, the umpire in left field gave a late signal for an infield fly and Simmons was subsequently ruled out.
That left Atlanta with second and third with two outs, as opposed to bases loaded and one out.
Here is the rule as it appears in the rule books, per MLB.com:
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. While the Braves might have had a legit argument against the umpire's call of an infield fly rule, it wasn't enough to say that the play in question single-handedly changed the game.
There are two reasons why this call was botched by the umpire:
1. Kozma's catch didn't require ordinary effort. The Cards shortstop had a long way to go and actually was more of a left fielder than an infielder on the play. After all, he gave way to Holliday in left field because Kozma knew he had gone too far and that's how the ball fell in.
2. As mentioned above, the umpire made the call far too late. As stated in the rule book, the umpire must make an immediate call, and that clearly didn't happen here.
While the Braves had a legit argument to protest this game, in the end, it's useless.
Major League Baseball wouldn't go as far as to shoot themselves in the foot by overturning the result of this game. There's just no certainty that the missed call would have changed the course of the game.
Even if the Braves would have gotten the call their way and Brian McCann would have walked, like he ended up doing, the score would have been 6-4.
Michael Bourn would have made the second out of the inning, leaving it up to Martin Prado, who was 1-for-5 on the evening. Prado grounded out to second in his last at-bat in the ninth inning and had he done so in the eighth, the score would have remained 6-4 and short of what Atlanta needed to win.
If Atlanta's protest was successful, the game most likely would have resumed on Saturday and such an event would have completely overshadowed the other divisional series games.
Should the Braves have won their protest?
On top of that, the Washington Nationals would have had to wait another day to travel to their ultimate destination, either St. Louis or Atlanta. So, instead of this affecting just two teams, overturning the game and resuming it would have had a far-reaching effect.
The Braves might have a serious gripe with what happened in the NL Wild Card game, but a better played game could have made the missed call irrelevant.
Atlanta was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, so they had plenty of chances to make up the possible lost runs. On top of that, the Braves committed three errors that also cost them a run.
A complete mess was avoided thanks to the MLB denying the Braves' protest, but it doesn't erase the negative outlook this game has overall.