Atlanta Braves: Remembering the Infield Fly Rule Game


Last night was the 3 year anniversary of one of the worst calls in Atlanta/Sports history. I’m talking about the dreaded 2012 NL Wild Card Game, best known as the Infield Fly Rule Game.

2012 was a very unforgiving year in Atlanta regional sports. The Atlanta Falcons blew a 17-point halftime lead in the NFC Championship to lose to the San Francisco 49ers, 28-24. That Falcons team was 10 yards short of its 2nd Super Bowl. The Georgia Bulldogs blew an unbelievable opportunity to play for a National Championship, losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the red zone, 32-28, in the SEC Championship.

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However, the weirdest loss of all in Atlanta postseason was certainly the 2012 NL Wild Card Game (The Infield Fly Rule Game). This was the first year of expanded playoffs in the MLB. Before 2012, the winner of the Wild Card automatically got to play in the NLDS.

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Many fans weren’t happy about a 162 game season coming down to a one-game playoff. Had this been a year earlier, the Atlanta Braves (94-68) would have already clinched the Wild Card Berth, finishing 6 games better than the St. Louis Cardinals (88-74). Instead the first one-game Wild Card playoff was coming to Turner Field.

Atlanta sent to the mound Kris Medlen, who hadn’t lost a game all season (9-0, 0.97 ERA) since moving to the rotation following Tommy John surgery. This was Chipper Jones‘ final game as a Major Leaguer. All that stood in the way from advancing to the NLDS was one win-or-go-home game. What happened in the bottom of the 8th inning was beyond unbelievable.

The Atlanta Braves trailed the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3, but had runners on first and second with one out. Andrelton Simmons popped up a full count offering that landed between Cardinals SS Pete Kozma and LF Matt Holliday, a good 75 feet in the outfield.

This defensive miscue by the Cardinals had the Atlanta Braves in great position to eat at the 3-run deficit, with the bases loaded and one out. However, LF Umpire Sam Holbrook deemed Simmons’ single to shallow left field null and void, as Simmons was then called out because of the infield fly rule.

Turner Field erupted in disgust, tossing trash on the diamond, delaying the game 19 minutes. Atlanta Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez protested the game, but the MLB denied the protest. St. Louis would advance to the NLDS, winning 6-3.

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  • MLB Executive VP Joe Torre upheld the blown call, saying it was a judgement call by Holbrook and thus could not be overturned. What if this happened in an ALCS to one of your New York Yankees’ teams? The ball clearly landed between rookie Kozma and poor fielding Holliday. What else were the Atlanta Braves supposed to do?

    Replay was later expanded upon the following season. I wonder why? Normally, I’m the type of person that would prefer his team to win a game decidedly about the officials, opting to never complain about blown calls. However, this was the worst call I’ve seen in a Major League Baseball game. The ball landed dozens of feet in the outfield!

    Cleveland sports may have to remember The Drive, The Shot, The Decision, Red Right 88, The Fumble, etc. Atlanta has Eugene Robinson, Lonnie Smith, and The Infield Fly Rule. Good luck to the four teams that are playing the Wild Card Games (Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Pittsburgh Pirates). I hope with all of my heart that your team won’t have to suffer a blown call as bad as the 2012 Infield Fly Rule. Go Braves!

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