That wasn't the way Chipper Jones deserved to go out.
Jones, the longtime standout Atlanta Brave, made one of the Braves' three costly errors to allow St. Louis to rob them of advancing to the first round of the playoffs. But the game will be remembered as the first bad taste of the new one-game playoff with a second wild-card team.
The infield fly rule that bailed out a St. Louis blunder kept the Braves from having bases loaded with one out in the middle of a big rally that very likely could've changed the outcome of the game. No doubt about it. Instead, the Braves had two runners with two outs.
The rule is to prevent outfielders from purposefully dropping an easy flyout, then throwing out potentially two runners who now have to race to the next base instead of tagging up. While that makes sense, the rule is also not punishing the team for making the error in the first place. Runners should be allowed to advance a base without any risk. But that's for another discussion.
A side note: the rule states that the umpire is to make this decision immediately. That was not the case Friday. Bad call.
The umpires need to be better judges of when to apply this rule. It was clear that the Cardinals had a miscommunication on a routine play. Instead of the Braves being able to capitalize on that, the Cards were bailed out by a call that shouldn't have been. A call that decided a one-game playoff that ended the Braves' season.
Why is it a one-game playoff is a good idea? It isn't for baseball. When a call can decide the fate of one team's entire season like that, it isn't.
The worst part of the night for Braves' fans may just be that the call is all that will be remembered about this game.
In no way is that justice for Chipper, one of the game's greatest players of this generation. My all-time favorite baseball player, Jones gave only good things to the game. He was the ideal role model of how third base should be played. How to handle yourself after a win or loss (he was classy as always after Friday's loss by pointing out that the team had three errors, his of which might've been the costliest. Not many stars take blame so willingly when they should). Chipper never was in the news for poor off-field behavior, steroids or things like that.
The top overall pick in 1990, Jones lived up to those expectations in every way. He finished his career as a .303 hitter with 468 home runs and 1,623 RBIs. He was a solid third baseman who gave consistency and 100-percent effort. Jones won an NL MVP award, a batting title and was a part of the Braves' World Series championship team. Just like the game itself, Jones is not the flashy type. Coaches knew exactly what they were getting with him.
Page 2 of 2 - He was a professional in every sense. A class act.
As if I needed more reason to despise the Cardinals.
I'm just saying.