The first round of the Greatest Cardinals Moment tournament is coming to a close, with this Tuesday’s entries representing the final voting opportunities for round one in The Intrepid STL’s Bing Devine region. Without further ado, let’s send you to the first of this weeks match ups.
#2 Edmonds walks off on the Astros in Game 6
The famous moment, “We are going to Game 7 in the National League Championship Series!” propelled the Cardinals to eventually claimed the NL pennant for the first time since 1987. St. Louis trailed the series against the Houston Astros 3-2 heading into Game 6, and a Jason Isringhausen blown save in the ninth could’ve been the final blow for the season.
A few innings later in the bottom of the 12th, Jim Edmonds sent one deep into the St. Louis night for one of the most memorable Cardinals highlights of the 21st century:
#15 (Needlessly) Controversial Infield Fly rule occurs during Cardinals 2012 Wild Card Game win
Okay, that Edmonds moment was pretty insane, in pennant-winning season for the Cardinals, so you’re probably not going to vote against it, but I want you to hear me out on this one. I’m going to get on my soap box, here. I’m going to dive into the minutiae of a moment that, to this day, if you mention it to Atlanta Braves fans, it would send them into a spirited rant. Here’s the thing: Atlanta didn’t get screwed. At all. Not even a little bit.
First, go ahead and watch the play below:
It was an incredibly bizarre and emotionally tense scene. But the Braves weren’t wronged.
As you can tell by watching what transpired, shortstop Pete Kozma went back on a ball that was set to land well beyond the infield dirt. It was deep enough for Matt Holliday to trot in, giving an effort on the ball, as well. After camping under the ball, Kozma appears suddenly spooked, and the unwitting viewer is left to assume some miscommunication between the fielders caused Kozma to believe Holliday was calling him off.
Holliday was not calling him off.
The noise Kozma heard was Sam Holbrook bellowing out from the left field line to enforce the infield fly rule. And that’s what should be the focus of the conversation surrounding the play.
Now, where this discussion often goes off the rails is when people get caught in a debate of whether or not Holbrook should have enforced the infield fly rule in this spot. For the record, an infield fly is considered a ball that “can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort.” Kozma carefully jogging back to camp under the popup absolutely qualifies as such. There is an argument to be made that Holbrook waited too long to make the call, though for him to determine “ordinary effort,” it was necessary for Kozma to be in the area of the catch, which took some time, even though it wasn’t an extraordinary feat of athleticism that carried his person to that spot.
None of that is even remotely close to the point.
The fact is, Holbrook’s shouting to enforce the rule is the entire reason the ball wasn’t caught. If he stays quiet, Kozma catches the popup with ease, and nobody remembers it. Because he piped up to enforce the rule, Kozma got confused (like the rest of us, he was not expecting an infield fly call in the moment, because of how far he had to range to get to the ball), assumed Holliday called him off, and backed out to avoid a collision.
In fact, the result of the infield fly play was actually FAVORABLE to the Braves over the alternative of a simple pop fly out. Instead of runners on first and second, two out, it put runners on second and third with two outs.
So if anything, Braves fans should have celebrated the infield fly call, instead of throwing debris onto the field. And now you know.
Anyway, that win allowed for another amazing moment when the Cardinals came back in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS, so just another reason to vote for it.
You’ll still probably pick Edmonds, but at least you’re now educated on the 2012 NL Wild Card Game.