As you all know, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Braves fan. So anything I say here will most likely be construed as me being a sore loser.
That’s fine. As with all controversial plays/calls/games, people tend to fall on one side of the fence or the other, and as the next couple of days will prove, this game will be no exception. And as I waited an extra three hours to watch this particular game, I’m going to throw my two cents in and go ahead and contest.
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To start, the Braves did not play a great game. I freely admit that. The errors committed were piss-poor and I’m not defending that. The fact they stranded as many runners as they did is inexcusable and led more to their loss than the “big call,” and that’s definitely true.
But the fact there was a questionable call, unfortunately, casts a negative light over the entire affair, and this will be talked about for some time. So let’s just go ahead and get that discussion out of the way.
The call was wrong. Period. And even if it wasn’t a wrong call, the fact that it was made when the ball was 20 feet from hitting the ground makes it completely incorrect. I’m not going to argue the rules, but that ball was not a routine play for the shortstop. Matt Carpenter was playing so deep that it wasn’t a routine play for him either, which means the infield fly rule is not even an issue. Add to that the fact that umpire Sam Holbrook took his sweet time to actually make the call and suddenly it’s a valid controversy.
Now that that’s out of the way, I want to make a comment about the one-game playoff. I accepted the concept of bringing a second wild card contender into the picture when it first came up. I went with the idea that it could possibly come down to a one-game playoff when it was decided that’s how it would play out. But I think the Braves game brings up an arguable point as it concerns the two-wild card situation and, quite simply, that it’s just not a legitimate display of dominance.
Which is my way of saying that a win in one game doesn’t necessarily mean the best team will come out on top. As I said in my last post, anything can happen, and in this case, it did. The Braves, NL leaders in fielding percentage, made three errors. That’s certainly their bad; I won’t say that had anything to do with umpires or any other outside force. But it’s definitely an outlier. I could say it was the nerves of young players, but two of those three errors rest on the shoulders of Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones, two players who know better.
I’m not in their heads, I don’t know what they were thinking. But I do know the Braves had an excellent season fielding, and this game is easily considered an anomaly, and I don’t think anyone can argue that with me. Kris Medlen had a fine start, giving up only two earned runs, which would have been more than enough without the big error by Jones.
I’m not going to harp. I feel it’s necessary, as all the pundits to weigh in, to make it clear that while I don’t think this game came down to one single play or bad call, it just as easily could have. And if that’s the case, the single game deciding the fate of a team that finished in a tie for the third best record in the National League against a team that finished six games under underneath them is not a true test of who deserves to move forward. Single games should be reserved to settle ties, not to determine who is more fit to continue in the playoffs.
I’m no fool. I know this is a move to sell advertising and keep an interest in baseball after the football season has started. But considering this single game tonight, I think it’s already time to rethink the structure and change the future of this new wild card spot before there are more controversial calls that could possibly end the playoff hopes of a more deserving team.