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.
Earlier today the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association made multiple posts on social media registering its displeasure at what it feels was the league’s weak discipline of Manny Machado following his run-in with umpire Bill Welke. It was an unusual statement, as it’s not common for umpires, individual or via their union to comment on such matters.
This evening, in an official statement, the league called it inappropriate:
“Manny Machado was suspended by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, who considered all the facts and circumstances of Machado’s conduct, including precedent, in determining the appropriate level of discipline. Mr. Machado is appealing his suspension and we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires. We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”
That final bit, about workplace violence, is something that I didn’t really consider when I read the umps’ statements, but it’s a damn good point. In an age where people are literally shooting up workplaces, umpires making reference to that kind of thing in response to a player throwing a bat is pretty rich indeed. And in pretty poor taste.