Chipper Jones career ends in protest

Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves third baseman vs St. Louis Cardinals in MLB Wildcard game Friday October 5, 2012. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Braves.

Hysterics overtook Turner Field on Friday night when an infield fly rule was called by the left field umpire. A call that resulted in trash being tossed onto the field and a 15-minute delay of the wildcard game matchup between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.

Both teams entered the game with their own unique storyline.

One team, the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, took the field for their first playoff game in over a decade without All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols, who signed with the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason. And another team, the Atlanta Braves, looked to add one more playoff run to their retiring slugger’s career.

Chipper Jones, who has spent his entire 19 year career with the Atlanta Braves said before the start of this season that it would be his last.

Add then, one more storyline, when an umpire’s call resulted in the Braves finishing the game under protest.

Entering the bottom of the eighth inning with trailing 6-3, the Braves were generating a much needed rally. With runners on first and second base, Braves shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, hit a ball 65 feet into the outfield and was called out by the application of the infield fly rule.

Simmons ball was a bloop headed for short-left directly off the bat. Just as Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma began backpedaling the left fielder, Matt Holliday, quickly advanced on the ball. Once under the ball, Kozma appeared to wave off Holliday, then suddenly both players backed off and the ball dropped between them.

Almost simultaneously, the left field umpire waved his hands in the air indicating the call of an infield fly rule. A rule, that when invoked, declares the batter out and all force plays removed regardless of whether the ball is caught, thus negating the possibility for multiple outs.

This call was followed by an immediate outburst from the Atlanta crowd, which included trash being tossed onto the field and jeering of the umpiring crew.

“You cannot call that an infield fly. It’s too deep. He wasn’t camped,” TBS analyst Ron Darling said immediately after hearing the call.

Additionally, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez ran onto the field to argue the call that he would later call, “late and wrong”.

According to TBS baseball analyst and former MLB pitcher Dennis Eckersley, the call can be made all the way out to the warning track if it applies, but he felt in this case, “if anything, this call was late.”

The call, right or wrong, certainly killed the Braves eighth inning rally hopes and put a stain on the beginning of MLB Wildcard weekend.

As for the end of Chipper Jones Hall Of Fame worthy career, he made the last plate appearance of his career count. Jones managed to spark one last rally cry for the Braves as he singled with two outs against Cardinals reliever Jason Mott. But, even that was somewhat controversial as Jones reached first on a single up the middle that was nearly an out as Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso’s arrant throw pulled first baseman Allen Craig off the bag.

Following Jones at the plate was Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman who reached base on a ground rule double to center field, thus setting Atlanta fans up for yet another disappointing rally-killer when second baseman Dan Uggla grounded out to Descalso to end the game and pennant hopes as the Braves fell 6-3 to the Cardinals.

Despite the fact the Braves played the remainder of the game under protest, Major League Baseball has already announced that it will not overturn the call on the field and that the St. Louis Cardinals will play the Washington Nationals Sunday.

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