But no heartbreak is as bad as the kind that takes fate out
of players' hands.
Some teams lose a World Series crown by simply being
outplayed. Others fall short of a title as their players boot away the win (hey
there, Bill Buckner). But still others lose out on a championship because their
thin line between victory and defeat is squeezed beyond recovery — by factors
that players have no control over.
Friday night was one of those times. The Atlanta Braves,
looking to get into the National League Division Series with a wild card win
against the St. Louis Cardinals, appeared to be starting a rally that would
have given them a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the eighth.
Umpire Sam Holbrook called a pop-up that landed well into
the outfield an infield fly, meaning the Braves got an automatic out despite
the Cardinals absolutely bungling the play and letting the ball drop.
The Braves rally was soon squashed, with Atlanta losing 6-3.
The Braves were extremely upset, as were their fans, who
started throwing so much trash onto the field that the game was eventually
halted for 19 minutes for cleanup. The call immediately drew comparisons to the
controversial Green Bay-Seattle finish in the NFL a couple of weeks ago, as
influenced by the league's short-lived replacement refs.
But as far as blown calls go, the Friday night "infield
fly" may not have been the most egregious the MLB playoffs have ever seen.
While baseball umps have their share of miscues in the regular season, a legion
of phantom calls have marred the postseason as well throughout the years, often
giving a team that little extra push it needs to get past an opponent.
Chuck Knoblauch got an out just for making his swinging arm
look like a tag. Robinson Cano kept himself from being called out by quickly
jumping to a bag, while Ron Gant was called out after being shoved off one.
Jeffrey Maier and Steve Bartman snatched both ball and hope from the air at
playoff games, with the umps doing little to remedy the effects of their
We've rounded up a Top 10 of some of the worst calls from
MLB postseasons, with Friday night's infield fly head-scratcher and even
Bartman's moment of shame making the list. NESN Daily is also collecting
suggestions, with the best tweets getting a chance to appear on Saturday
— NESN (@NESN) October 6, 2012
Take a look at our video gallery of the Top 10 worst calls
in MLB postseason history, then vote in our poll to see how your choice stacks
up. For "other" votes, feel free to leave your reasoning or choice in
the comments section below.