Judgment call lets 'Wild Card' be just that

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By Josh Veatch

I've always been one to watch a few baseball games throughout the season, but I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of professional baseball. Don't get me wrong, I love the sport of baseball, but for the most part Major League games can seem to drag on and on. Now that the Wild Card round is complete, and we are in the midst of the Divisional Series, I find myself watching the games.
There are teams that I have always followed. Since there really isn't a "local" team for our area in baseball, I follow teams that are fairly close to us. The Reds, Cardinals and Braves are three that I prefer to root for. On Friday night, two of those teams were involved in the first-ever Wild Card game in Major League Baseball, and did it ever live up to its name. The fact that there should've never been this game could be a topic for another column.
If you watched the Cardinals and Braves game, you know what I mean when I say it lived up to its "Wild" Card billing. A controversial call late in the game put the Braves in an unexpected hole that they never recovered from. The Cardinals would go on to win the game, and eliminate the Braves from further postseason play.
Let me briefly set up the situation for you, and you can make your own judgment on the call. The Braves had runners on first and second with one out. A Braves hitter popped the ball up into shallow left field. The Cardinals shortstop and left fielder approach to make a play on the ball. The shortstop appears to call for the ball, but suddenly veers off course and the ball falls to the ground.  The Braves now have the bases loaded with one out.
Not so fast. The left field umpire signaled for an infield fly, which meant that the Braves batter is automatically out. Now the Braves have runners on second and third with two outs. The Braves manager ran out of the dugout to dispute the call, the fans littered the field with anything they could find to throw, and the game was delayed for nearly 20 minutes.
Well, due to space limitations, I won't go into detail on the infield fly rule or whether the correct call was made. The main thing about the infield fly rule is that it is a call that is made at the discretion of an umpire, and is a judgment call. In my opinion, this time the judgment was correct.
The ball was well out of the infield, but if you read the infield fly rule in the Major League rulebook, you will see that where the ball is played really doesn't matter. As bad as all of those Braves fans, me included, felt after the call was made, it all falls back to a judgment call that the umpire made.
Too bad for the Braves as their nearly 100 win season came to a sudden and unexpected end and good luck to the Cardinals as they continue their postseason run. I'm sure that this won't be the last disputed call in the 2012 playoffs.  
If I had one sticking point with the call that was made, it would be this. Is it possible to put a definition on the term "ordinary effort?" Read the infield fly rule for yourself, and you will see my reasoning behind asking such a question.