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Disputed infield fly call draws scrutiny after wild-card debacle

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 8:24 p.m.
A fan holds a sign after the National League wild-card playoff game between the Braves and the Cardinals on 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

ATLANTA — The NFL replacement refs are not there to kick around anymore.

Not to worry. A familiar target has emerged.

Instead of guys wearing stripes, it's the men in blue.

Major League Baseball found itself embroiled in another postseason maelstrom over umpires — and renewed calls for increased use of instant replay — after a disputed infield fly call led to mayhem in the stands in the one-game, winner-take-all playoff in Atlanta.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Braves, 6-3, on Friday. But this landmark game — the debut of the wild-card playoff under baseball's expanded postseason format — will long be remembered for a ruling by Sam Holbrook in the eighth.

Andrelton Simmons hit a pop fly that dropped safely in left field after a mix-up between two fielders, either able to have caught the ball easily. Holbrook ruled the batter out anyway under the infield fly rule. The fans at Turner Field went nuts, littering the field with debris.

“This was an exciting game,” said Joe Torre, who serves as MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations. “I'm sorry about the controversy.”

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