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Inside the Matt Holliday error: Dodgers fans waving the white flag

Things got dramatic on Los Angeles yesterday when St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday played the potential final out of the game into the spark that would ignite the Dodgers’ 3-2 comeback victory.

Holliday, who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics early this season, is known more for his his bat than his glove — but certainly is expected to make plays like the one presented to him when James Loney hit a sinking line drive to shallow left. Instead of catching it, he let it hit him in the stomach (or worse), allowing Loney to dash into second base safely. Ronnie Belliard and Mark Loretta followed with clutch hits, turning Holliday into one giant goat and making us all forget the homer he’d hit earlier in the game.

Predictably, this Buckner-like performance is accompanied by some controversy.

“That ball got lost in 50,000 white towels shaking in front of Matt’s

face,” [Cardinals starter Adam] Wainwright said. “It doesn’t really seem fair that an opposing

team should be able to allow their fans to shake white towels when

there’s a white baseball flying through the air. How about Dodger Blue

towels?”

Holliday sang a different tune after the game, saying he lost it in those always-tricky dusktime lights.

I couldn’t see the ball. I lost in the lights.

“I had it in the beginning but then the ball came down through the lights and I lost it.

“When that happens, you hope it hits your body or hits your glove.

“I just lost it.

“Tough to swallow. I feel terrible.

“The ball hit my stomach. I think I can catch a fly ball hit right at me.

“Wainwright pitched a good game, the bullpen did its job. I just didn’t catch it.”

Kudos to Holliday for manning up, but does Wainwright have a point about the towels? The Dodgers are hardly the first team to employ rally towels, and not even the first to have them be white (see: Homer Hanky). I mean, you’ve gotta catch that ball.