I can’t write about the Red Sox right now, but I will. There will definitely be a post-mortem on 2012. But for the moment I am focusing on baseball that doesn’t want to make me bang my head. Just being able to sit back and enjoy the baseball being played yesterday made a big difference in my baseball mood.
Until the infield fly rule.
Now as my friend Beth said, (Beth was sitting in the middle of Turner Field and saw the entire game up close and personal), the Braves ultimately lost that game because the Braves left a dozen men on base and made three errors, but there was some serious momentum going on in the inning when the infield fly rule was called and blowing that call sucked that momentum away. The umps didn’t lose the game for the Braves but they sure helped nudge it toward the Cardinals.
I have mixed feelings about this format. That one call aside, I actually enjoyed the thrill of a one-game playoff. I didn’t really have a favorite in either game played yesterday so there was no tension, just enjoyment of the game. Ultimately, I’m pleased with the teams that won and hope at least one of them goes on to beat their LDS opponent into dust (I’m looking at you, Orioles). But there were a few moments yesterday that made me wonder if I would enjoy the sudden death aspect of it were my team playing. Which is to say, I know I ‘m completely selfish in my attitude about this thing: As long as my guys aren’t in it, it’s great! But if the Red Sox were playing the Rangers last night I would most likely have had totally different feelings. I’ve never not owned up to the fact that when it comes to baseball I’m a hypocrite.
I DO think the infield fly rule incident highlighted exactly what opponents to this new system were worried about. A team makes it to the playoffs just to learn their fate will be decided by one game and the pesky “human element” of that one game comes vividly into play. So one game with a completely questionable call sent the Braves packing. All because old Bud Selig didn’t think last year’s game 162 was good enough for MLB? (Honestly. As much as the entire night pained me, last year’s final game of the season is in the books as being one of the most exciting nights in baseball ever…what made Bud sit back and think “I need to fix that!”?)
Someone at MLB must have thought the infield fly rule thing was sketchy too and that person is whoever runs the official MLB Twitter account. For quite a while the “about me” section for that account read, in part: “We don’t understand the infield fly rule, either” because, ha-ha, that’s a joke. Moments after the incident, that line was not-so mysteriously taken down. (When I told my 77 year-old father this story, he proceeded to explain the infield fly rule to me in great detail. I then explained that it was MLB’s way of making a joke and his response was “I’m not so sure.”)
As much as that call flabbergasted me, the reaction from the fans didn’t. I suppose I didn’t really expect them to chuck everything they could grab onto the field (and at the players and coaches and umpires) but you had to know their response would be more than just booing. Unfortunately, it got ugly and as much as I could sympathize in the moment what really ended up swaying me toward the “why are you all acting like asses?” side was the reaction afterward by Braves fans online. Most looked at it as a legitimate way to show their displeasure with the call. Others were proud that it showed the baseball world that the fans have passion for their team. I don’t see either of those things when I watch the replays of what happened. I see some angry (and certainly some drunken) fans letting their frustrations loose without any thought to the consequences. Two wrongs don’t make a right, people. Especially when one wrong is a bad call and the other is fans putting the people in harm’s way just to try and make a point.
MLB whiffed again with the scheduling of Game 2 of the ALDS Tigers/A’s game. Do you want to watch it? It’s on Sunday at 2pm. The only problem is, if you don’t get the MLB Network you won’t see it. Yep. MLB decided in its infinite wisdom to put a playoff game on a pay channel. Because, well…Bud Selig. (According to a press release, MLB is scheduled for two LDS games this year.) I love the MLB Network and would rather see games on it than on Fox any day of the week. But it would be nice if Bud actually made ALL the playoff games available to all the fans. And, yes, I get that it’s Bud’s job to make sure MLB makes as much money as possible…but I think it sucks that the one way the majority of fans can afford to actually watch baseball is through television and Bud’s gone out of his way to make even that difficult.
I’m making a conscious effort to just try and relax and enjoy this playoff season so now, in spite of my feelings for their manager and a player or two, I’m in the position of openly rooting for the Baltimore Orioles to demolish the Yankees. I suppose there could be worse ways to spend a few nights in October.