True to its name, the Wild Card playoff game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals got wild in the bottom of the eighth inning when the umpires invoked the infield fly rule on a fly ball to left field off the bat of Andrelton Simmons that had seemingly dropped for a hit (or an error).

With the Braves trailing, 6-3, and runners on first and second, Simmons came to the plate with one away. The shortstop popped up a 3-2 pitch from Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs to left field. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma ranged out into left, arms spread wide, trying to get under the ball. Meanwhile, Matt Holliday charged in toward the ball. With both players in the area, the pop fly dropped between them.

What initially looked to be a tremendous break for the Braves, who appeared to have loaded the bases with just one out in the eighth, turned into the first controversy of the 2012 MLB playoffs. The umpire in left field had raised a single finger as the ball dropped, signaling that the infield fly rule was in effect. This ruling meant that Simmons was automatically out.

"You cannot call that an infield fly. It's too deep. He wasn't camped," TBS analyst Ron Darling said immediately after learning the call.

Showing their displeasure with the call, fans at Turner Field rained debris on the playing surface, causing a stoppage in the game.

"You know, this is what happens occasionally when you add extra umpires down the right-field and left-field lines," Darling added. "You have extra umpires and sometimes you have extra calls."

Here is the entry for "Infield Fly" in the officials rules available at MLB.com. Did the umps get it right? Did it look like that ball was about to be "caught by an infielder with ordinary effort" when the umpire signaled? Braves fans didn't seem to think so. Neither did the TBS crew.

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.

Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder—not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. 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.
When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence.

With that Braves' rally slowed, the Cardinals eventually escaped the bottom of the eighth unscathed after play resumed. They held on for the win at 6-3 and will keep their repeat bid alive.


Mark Bowman
Cardinals sprinted off the field as more cups littered the field...Fans now chanting for Chipper..An ugly end to a beautiful career

MORE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves played their NL wild-card playoff game at Turner Field under protest after fans littered the field with trash over a disputed infield fly call that led to a 19-minute delay.


Trailing 6-3 in the eighth inning Friday, the Braves appeared to catch a break when a fly ball to short left field dropped between St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma and left fielder Matt Holliday after a mix-up over who had it.


But just before the ball dropped, left field umpire Sam Holbrook signaled an automatic out because of the infield fly rule, designed to prevent a team from intentionally dropping a popup in order to get extra outs with more than one runner on base.


Instead of Atlanta having the bases loaded with one out, Andrelton Simmons was called out. The fans immediately started hurling cups and trash, covering the field.

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  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    A sign is seen as Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves is at bat in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday runs to a ball hit by Atlanta Braves' Andrelton Simmons during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The game was stopped after officials decided Simmons was out on the infield fly rule.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Allen Craig #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals is greeted by Yadier Molina #4 and teammates after Craig scores in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Allen Craig #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals is greeted by teammates after Craig scores in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by David Freese #23 against the Atlanta Braves during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Country singer Travis Tritt performs the national anthem before the Atlanta Braves take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    David Freese #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves looks on prior to his first at-bat against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Martin Prado #14 of the Atlanta Braves plays the ball off the wall after Allen Craig #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a RBI double in the fourth inning during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Kris Medlen #54 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after allowing a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning hit by David Freese #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Manager Fredi Gonzalez #33 of the Atlanta Braves talks with home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg after Andrelton Simmons #19 of the Atlanta Braves is hit in the head by the ball and is called out for running inside the base path on a throw by Kyle Lohse #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    David Freese #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws the ball to first base on a bunt an infield single by David Ross #8 of the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Kyle Lohse #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals fields the ball and throws out Michael Bourn #24 of the Atlanta Braves at first base in the fifth inning during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Daniel Descalso #33 of the St. Louis Cardinals attempts to turn a double play as Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves slides into second base as Dan Uggla #26 is safe at first in the eighth inning during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Andrelton Simmons #19 of the Atlanta Braves turns a double-play in the seventh inning against Matt Carpenter #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Carlos Beltran #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals is greeted by Chris Carpenter #29 after scoring in the fourth inning on a double by teammate Allen Craig #21 against the Atlanta Braves during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Jose Constanza #13 of the Atlanta Braves hits a triple in the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    A security official stands on the field as Atlanta Braves personnel pick up trash on the field during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The Cardinals won baseball's first wild-card playoff, taking advantage of a disputed infield fly call that led to a protest and fans littering the field with debris to defeat the Braves 6-3.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves officials pick up trash on the field as security stand by during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The Cardinals won baseball's first wild-card playoff, taking advantage of a disputed infield fly call that led to a protest and fans littering the field with debris to defeat the Braves 6-3.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    An Atlanta Braves official picks up trash on the field during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The Cardinals won baseball's first wild-card playoff, taking advantage of a disputed infield fly call that led to a protest and fans littering the field with debris to defeat the Braves 6-3.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    A security official shouts to fans to not throw trash on the field during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The Cardinals won baseball's first wild-card playoff, taking advantage of a disputed infield fly call that led to a protest and fans littering the field with debris to defeat the Braves 6-3.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals is greeted at the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds the bases after he hits a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves sits in the dugout before taking on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves sits on the end of the dugout before taking on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Wild Card Game - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Kris Medlen #54 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    David Ross #8 of the Atlanta Braves is greeted by his teammate in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Wild Card Game - St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Kris Medlen #54 of the Atlanta Braves pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Umpire Sam Holbrook, right, listens to Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, left, after a call during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The game was stopped after officials decided Braves' Andrelton Simmons was out on the infield fly rule.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves fans hold up a sign saying 'Win One For The Chipper' for Chipper Jones #10 of the Breaves during the National League Wild Card playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Dan Uggla #26 of the Atlanta Braves greets teammate David Ross #8 after Ross hits a two-run home run in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    David Ross #8 of the Atlanta Braves hits a two-run home run in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card playoff game at Turner Field on October 5, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves pitcher Kris Medlen, right, tosses the ball to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) as St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday, left, heads back to first base during the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. Holliday was safe.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig, right, tosses an Atlanta Braves' Martin Prado-hit ball to Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse for an out during the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (26) works during the first inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward makes a catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina during the second inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Former United States President Jimmy Carter watches the first inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves' David Ross reacts with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves' David Ross (8) watches his two-run home run during the second inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals' Allen Craig is brushed back off the plate by Atlanta Braves pitcher Kris Medlen during the third inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese (23) picks up a bunted ball hit by Atlanta Braves' David Ross during the third inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. Ross was safe at first base.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves catcher David Ross comes through home plate on teammate Andrelton Simmons' bunt during the fourth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. Simmons' bunt was ruled out and Ross went back to first base.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves fans hold a sign during the fourth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game between the Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday (7) reacts to his solo home run with teammate Yadier Molina (4) during the sixth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals' David Freese (23) hits a sacrifice fly, bringing in teammate Allen Craig, during the fourth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (10) fields a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina during the inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. Molina was out at first.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals' Adron Chambers, left, crosses home plate after a bad throw from Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (not shown) as Braves catcher David Ross, right, tries to make the catch during the seventh inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, left, reacts after a throwing error during the fourth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.

  • St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday (7) hits a solo home run during the sixth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta.