Because life is a series of edits

Redeeming Baseball

In Calling, Places & Spaces, Sports on October 6, 2012 at 4:08 am

Regarding the ridiculously ruled infield fly in the eighth inning of last night's MLB Wildcard game between the Braves and the Cardinals, here's what I wish would have happened:

As Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is (rightly) arguing the call with the umpires and Braves fans are (wrongly) revving up to throw whatever they can get their hands on out on the field in protest, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny calmly walks out on the field to join the discussion with the men in black.

Listening for a moment to the "discussion" (if that's what you want to call the heated dialogue that goes on between managers and umpires over a blown call), Matheny puts his hands up to quiet both sides, suggests that the call was way out of line and should be reversed, and actually argues for loading the bases for the Braves and charging an error to Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma (for that's what it so painfully was) before walking calmly back to the dugout to finish managing the game.

Atlanta fans are dumbfounded as they drop the bottles and trash from their hands and have a seat. Cardinal fans are proud, for any one of "the smartest fans in baseball" can recognize how horribly wrong the call is. In addition to growing his reputation for having a fine mind for baseball, Matheny demonstrates his heart for justice as well. Best of all, the game goes on without some silly twenty minute delay (and a slew of protest for days to come), and regardless of who wins, baseball comes out the winner.

Wouldn't that have been classy and inspiring? Beautiful, even?

Atlanta's retiring living legend, Chipper Jones, whose fourth-inning error on what should have been a standard 5-4-1 double-play that was really the beginning of the end for the Braves, gave his typical try at class in his post-game interview:

"Ultimately, I think that when we look back on this loss, we need to
look at ourselves in the mirror. We put ourselves in that predicament. … [So]
I'm not willing to say that that particular call cost us the ballgame.
Ultimately, three errors cost us the ballgame, mine probably being the
biggest."

Jones admirably took responsibility, but for redemption to happen, it has to cost somebody something, and the Cardinals were the only ones in the position to pay up.

I don't blame Matheny for not doing so (no other manager in baseball would have); I just wish he did. That's how baseball could have been redeemed last night.

That's what I wish would have happened.

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  1. That would be beautiful, but I think the call of an infield fly happened the instant Kozma signaled. That is a legit application of the rule, right?

  2. Technically, yes, but this is a great illustration of the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Read Rosenthal’s piece on this here: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/umpires-and-mlb-executives-blow-call-on-little-understood-infield-fly-rule-in-nl-wild-card-but-fans-have-no-excuse-100512

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