Bad night for Atlanta … and beer bottles

Atlanta Braves officials pick up trash on the field as security stands by during the eighth inning of the National League wild card playoff baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Atlanta. The Cardinals won baseball's first wild-card playoff, taking advantage of a disputed infield fly call that led to a protest and fans littering the field with debris to defeat the Braves 6-3. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
AP Photo/Todd Kirkland

If you were on the fence about the one-game Wild Card playoff before last night’s games, you aren’t anymore.

Both visiting teams rode in and stole victories from the higher-seeded home teams in the playoff games, and I’m not going to say it’s all that surprising. One game is essentially a coin flip, and it came up tails both times.

One positive from last night’s Braves-Cardinals debacle was waking up this morning and knowing a lot more people know the infield fly rule than they did 24 hours ago. The Braves had to be the victim of that lesson, but at least we all now know a 225-foot fly ball could qualify as an infield fly.

(MORE: Watch the Play, if You Haven’t Already)

Let’s get one thing straight — I refuse to entertain the thought that it was the correct call. It simply wasn’t. Put down your rule book and understand that if a left-field umpire is making the call on an infield fly, it’s wrong. The infield umpire didn’t make the call for a reason: It was well beyond the infield, and that should have meant the Cardinals needed to catch the ball to record an out.

But in the midst of all the madness, the action of the Atlanta fans, throwing their final beer onto the field (alcohol sales had already ended), was very Northern-fan-like. Scores of Northern sports fans have showered the field with debris in moments following the most egregious calls, and it’s something I never thought I’d witness in an Atlanta stadium.

We’re just not supposed to care about anything that much. We’re a bad sports town, according to everyone.

So it did embarrass me to see that occurring in Turner Field. I have to admit, in that situation, I would never throw anything on the field. It has never changed a call, and I’d like to keep my streak of 25-plus years without an arrest alive.

I don’t condone it. Seriously. But it was nice to see my town’s fans get so fired up about something that they resorted to those measures.

It made me want to smile a little.

The blown call wasn’t the only reason the Cardinals advanced and the Braves were sent home. Nearly every one of the Braves’ infielders made a crucial and horrendous error — after I gushed over the National League’s best defense all season — and clutch hits were mostly absent. Kris Medlen was hit harder than I’ve seen in a long time, even though he should have been in a position to win the game if it wasn’t for those previously-mentioned errors.

But, yes, the Cardinals did try to hand the game back to Atlanta, on several occasions. That blown infield fly rule was one of those moments.

It’s just another in a long line of ways an Atlanta team has lost a playoff game that leaves you speechless. We’re inching up on Cleveland as the most tortured sports town in the nation. I’m dead-serious about that.

At least John Elway earned those touchdowns against the Browns back in the day. These days, even the officials can’t help us out.

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