The infield fly rule riot: probably the last baseball event that hadn't already occurred

Scott Cunningham - Getty Images

In the first-ever NL Wild Card single-elimination game, we saw baseball's last first: A riot predicated on the infield fly rule.

From sometime in the 1890s all the way up until Friday's Wild Card play-in between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves, the infield fly rule was everyone's default baseball joke. It's a synecdoche for the caricature of baseball people claim to hate: Legalistic, tedious, vaguely arbitrary, and ultimately inconsequential. It wasn't something to get riled over.

Which is why I'm here with a solemn announcement: A riot over the infield fly rule was probably the last new thing baseball had to show us. In Abner Doubleday's basement, for 180 years or so, a random baseball event generator has thrown out "Disco-related catastrophe" and "midget draws a walk" and "Stubby Clapp infielder," but until Friday it'd never gotten all the way to combining baseball's most somnolent rule with the sort of hijinks that, transplanted to the higher hijink-environment in Europe, would have involved attempted murder and a bunch of burning cars.

Now it has. And now, alas, baseball's over. All of us can pack up and just assume the NLDS would have started back at the beginning of the list of baseball events, with high-stepping mustachioed short-stops losing balls in tin cans and dying after particularly vigorous swings and calling each other "Death to Flying Things" and "The Only Nolan."

Which, actually, I'd be down for watching a few reruns if you are, too, come to think of it.

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