The news finally was announced that many had been waiting for regarding the Atlanta Braves upcoming NLDS series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Major League Baseball announced today that none other than veteran Major League Baseball umpire Sam Holbrook would lead the umpiring crew for the series. On the surface, Holbrook, with over 20 years of experience, is one of better regarded umpires in the league. He has worked 11 playoff series in his career, including two World Series. However, despite all of his good work, it was one particular game that Braves’ fans remember quite well.
Yep, that game.
Likely one of the more infamous and infuriating moments in Atlanta playoff lore, Holbrook was the umpire who called the infamous infield fly rule that significantly hindered the Braves ability to comeback in the 2012 NL Wild Card game against these same Cardinals. The blooper off Andrelton Simmons bat could have been the needed spark for the Braves to make a comeback, yet the end result prevented a big inning and led to a 6-3 win for St. Louis. Obviously, in retrospect, the umpires’ decision and explanation after the game seemed questionable to say the least.
Sure, it has been seven years. Few players on the current rosters and coaching staffs of the Braves and Cardinals were present during that game. Holbrook likely is worthy of being a crew chief for a playoff series, and there is no doubt he will umpire the games to the same high level that earned him this role.
None of these facts makes the transgression from seven years ago any less relevant in the minds of Braves fans.
Regardless, Major League Baseball decided to move forward with Holbrook’s assignment.
And that is perfectly fine.
Narratives and storylines are part of what makes every October wonderful in Major League Baseball. Previous history and rivalries add to the allure of every playoff series. Fortunately, all that simply disappears when the games start. While the past can add intrigue, what happens in the present, on the field, is what ultimately decides how relevant that past will continue to be. The Braves are in the best position they have been in quite a while to rewrite their postseason history. For the players and the fans, they simply need to focus on the present to ensure the future is a special as it can be.