If Sam Holbrook didn't invoke the infield fly rule, would there be the slightest bit of controversy, even if he actually — as the rule is written — had it right?
I really doubt it. Had Holbrook done nothing as Andrelton Simmons' pop fly fell to the turf in left field (I'm not sure I'd call it shallow left), nobody would have thought anything of it. Instead Holbrook waited an inexcusably long amount of time to make the call, and this ensued.
I guess it's not fair to say the call itself is unforgiveable, especially given that it is, apparently, correct. What's unforgiveable is that Holbrook took so long to act. I mean, he's a left-field umpire. There aren't too many decisions he's really got to make. He should have been prepared to make an infield fly call if necessary, and to make it swifly and decisively. By the letter of the law, he's required to do so, or it becomes an incorrect call. And that's why I feel Holbrook did his job poorly, and Major League Baseball should look seriously into taking action, starting with, but not necessarily limited to, disciplining Holbrook.
There's no easy fix for MLB for this mess. St. Louis' 6-3 victory will almost certainly stand. But please, please let this be another reason for MLB, and other sports, to take impartial decisions out of the hands of humans and into the hands of technology whenever it's realistic. I for one am so incredibly sick of critical sporting events being decided by the mistakes (it often seems that incompetence is a more appropriate word there) of officials. And that's not just the bitter Cubs fan wanting the Cardinals to lose in me talking.