An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule. When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare “Infield Fly” for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare “Infield Fly, if Fair.” The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul. If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly. Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly)
Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder —not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base lines. The umpire must rule also that a ball is an infield fly, even if handled by an outfielder, if, in the umpire’s judgment, the ball could have been as easily handled by an infielder. The infield fly is in no sense to be considered an appeal play. The umpire’s judgment must govern, and the decision should be made immediately. When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05 (L). The infield fly rule takes precedence.
The call is left up to the discretion of the umpires. It's a subjective call. So, those clamoring for instant replay seem off the mark. To me, watching the highlights, shortstop Pete Kozma was circling under the ball, even used a jab step with his right leg to slow his progress, and called for the ball before hearing imaginary footsteps and breaking off the play. I fail to see the reason for the uproar except that people were caught up in the heat of the moment, which is why just watching the highlights may have, for better or worse, given me a different perspective on the issue. Regardless, based on a reading of the rule, the umpire seems to have gotten it right. And, if you don't agree, you ABSOLUTELY MUST WATCH THIS video in which Harold Reynolds breaks the video down to demonstrate why the infield-fly call was CORRECT. Seriously, if you do one thing today, WATCH THIS CLIP, it's brilliant:
And, if that doesn't convince you, then nothing probably will. But, if you still need MORE convincing, here's a strong take by Rob Neyer stating that the call was correct.
The call was right. The Braves have no one to blame but themselves for the loss. If they wanted to win, they shouldn't have thrown the ball around like the Bad News Bears or hit Texas Leaguers in key situations. It's not the fault of the umpires and saying that it is cheapens the Cardinals' win and improperly damages the integrity of baseball officiating.