First and most obviously, Andrelton Simmons’ pop to left field was too deep to be calling an infield-fly rule on. That wasn’t a routine play for Pete Kozma. It certainly wasn’t a ball any shortstop would have thought of dropping in an effort to get a double play. It wasn’t an infield fly.
That said, here’s my theory: the only reason that ball dropped was because left-field umpire Sam Holbrook yelled “infield fly!” Kozma didn’t lose the ball in the lights. He peeled off at the last second because someone called him off. It wasn’t left fielder Matt Holliday, who was as shocked as anyone that the ball fell in. Perhaps it was a fan with a particularly strong set of lungs, but I doubt it. The park was plenty noisy at the time, and Kozma wasn’t at all close to the stands.
I think Holbrook yelled before he put his hand up and Kozma thought Holliday was calling him off. That would also be the best explanation for the umpires not reversing the call. If they thought the only reason the ball dropped in was because Kozma heard Holbrook yell, then it certainly wouldn’t have been fair to put Simmons on first.
Anyway, that’s my theory. Hopefully crew chief Jeff Kellogg will be open to discussing it after the game.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.