The Matt Holliday error and why 'white towels' defense doesn't fly

Video of the Matt Holliday error showed he lost the ball in the lights – but was fan interference to blame?

Danny Moloshok/Reuters
St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday loses a fly ball for an error in the ninth inning of Thursday's NLDS Game 2 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

It's a nightmare baseball scenario.

Your team is winning in the bottom of the ninth inning, and all you need to close out the game is one out – and your outfielder drops the ball, letting the home team mount a last-minute rally and steal the win.

That's what happened to the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night during game two of the National League Divisional Series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Left-fielder Matt Holliday lost a sinking line drive in the lights, the ball hitting him in the stomach.

Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, in talking to reporters, praised Holliday and complained that the usually solid outfielder had been distracted by the twirling white towels waved by Dodger fans in attendance.

"He lost the ball in ... 50,000 white towels shaking in front of his face," Wainwright said. "It doesn't really seem fair that an opposing team should be allowed to shake white towels when there's a white baseball flying through the air. Dodger blue towels, how 'bout that?"

While it's true that the glare of the lights off of the swirling towels could've distracted Holliday, (there's a reason stadiums have "batter's eyes" for the hitter – solid or dark-colored sections beyond the center-field wall) he could have had it much worse.

Take a look at the video below, from a South Korean high school boys soccer match. In it, students wearing specially colored jackets perform precisely choreographed routines that take the idea of a card section to another level. It's appropriately titled the "Human LCD," because the boys, all students of the school, combine to "display" pictures, text, even moving bitmap-like images.

And speaking of LCDs, what about the screens built-into the walls of stadiums these days? They may not always be in a player's field of vision, but they certainly present the possibility of distracting players.

And then there's the Cowboys' new 180-foot over-field video screen. A kick from Tennessee Titans punter AJ Trapasso hit the massive screen in an August pre-season game at the $1.3 billion domed stadium. There's speculation that Trapasso may have done it intentionally, and the feat hasn't been replicated, but talk about interference!


President Obama set off a storm on Twitter when he was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient this morning. Read about it here.


What's your take? Is it unfair to pass out white towels at a baseball game? Leave a comment and be sure to find us on Twitter.

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