This was the column I was hoping to put off writing for about a month. But as it stands right now, pending a review of the protest lodged by manager Fredi Gonzalez, the Atlanta Braves 2012 season is done – and with it, Chipper Jones career.
How does the best fielding team in the National League commit three errors between three of their infielders?
How does an umpiring crew – with over 60 different postseason series worked between them – chosen because of their excellence through a 162 game season, make one of the most unbelievably bad calls ever seen in a postseason game? (with all apologies to the Baltimore Orioles and their nemesis, Jeffrey Maier)
I can’t tell you how any of it happened, but it did. And the end result is that the Braves lose the first ever Wild Card playoff game to the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3, and Braves fans showed their collective posteriors for all the nation to see by showering the field with anything they could launch from their seats.
Sidebar: Braves fans picked the wrong method of demonstrating to the world that they aren’t disinterested fans who lack passion.
Was the turning point of the game the blown infield fly rule call by the umpires? Probably. But it never should have come to that. Jones, Dan Uggla, and Andrelton Simmons never should have put the Braves in the position of being down by three runs in the late innings of the game with their throwing errors.
Starting pitcher Kris Medlen deserved a better fate in the game. Jones deserved a better fate for his farewell.
And Chipper Jones didn’t deserve to have his last game be one that was marred by poor umpiring and embarrassing behavior by the fans.
The result of this game is precisely why Chipper didn’t like the one-game-knockout format that was laid out by MLB. In a nine inning game, anything can–and as was seen tonight–does happen. There is too much riding on a single game.
So now, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig‘s troops will “review” the call in question, and undoubtedly wave off Gonzalez’s protest with the same speed and integrity that the umpire signaled the infield fly rule on Simmons’ pop fly. The score will be upheld, the Cardinals will advance, and another season will end in frustration for the Braves.
This was supposed to be a celebration of a historic game. This was Selig’s baby, and the one part of his legacy that he was going to look back on with pride. Bud Selig will not be happy with how things transpired either way. Not with the call of the umpires, and not with the reaction of the fans.
Well Mr. Commissioner, you reap what you sow. When you refuse to be a progressive league, and use the technology available to you that would prevent such controversy from even getting to this point, then this is what you get. When you lean on the “traditions” of the game only when it’s convenient for you and your plans, then this is what you get.