Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 210: Obstruction is a Stupid Rule... if You're a Sox Fan.

You could hear the collective groans as outraged Red Sox fans across New England watched the play over and over again wondering what the hell went wrong. I'm not going to lie, I was pissed off too—so pissed I couldn't fall asleep. The obstruction call in the bottom of the ninth inning of game three gave the Cardinals a walk-off win and a 2-1 series lead. And it left Sox fans violently shaking their fists at their televisions.

I spent the next several minutes after the call trying to make myself believe that somewhere, somehow, it was Will Middlbrooks that had been obstructed. That Allen Craig held him to the ground so he couldn't go after the errant throw. Or maybe Craig took a dive and Middlebrooks was just an innocent bystander. But I knew I was grasping at straws—the rule is pretty clear.

MLB Rule 2.00 states:
OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered "in the act of fielding a ball." It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the "act of fielding" the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.
When you really sit down and think about it, it wasn't an obstruction call that lost that game for the Red Sox. It was the Red Sox who lost that game for the Red Sox. In a scenario similar to what happened in game two, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (like Craig Breslow) maybe should've just held on to the ball. Although pitchers are notorious for not being able to throw to any other base but home plate. Remember Julio Tavarez? He would toss the ball to first under handed so as not to overthrow the bag.

But Salty really has no excuse. He's a catcher. He's paid to throw the ball accurately to all bases. He's trained to make crazy snap throws to first from his knees or gun out would-be base stealers at second—all this with a whole lot of equipment impeding him. So yeah, the obstruction call totally sucked, but should the Sox really have been in that situation in the first place? Third base isn't that far away—Salty has the tools to make throws that hit the required target. This throw was wildly errant. Not really the best time to get a case of the yips.

Or do you blame Will Middlebrooks? Granted, it was a tough throw to field as it tailed away from him towards shortstop, but he was also cold, having just come into the game to replace fielding phenom Xander Bogaerts. Maybe Xander handles that throw cleanly, maybe he doesn't. There will always be that question...

It was a play that started out so brilliant with Dustin Pedroia making a diving play to his right and throwing out the lead runner at home. And ended so horribly with an obstruction call allowing the winning run to score. Just add it to the list of crazy World Series plays for the Boston Red Sox. Also, maybe David Ross should catch tonight.


  1. You couldn't have summed up my feelings about the the game any better. It was insane, and there are so many ways to play it out in your head. Yes, I'm a Cardinals fan, as you know. But more than that, I'm a baseball fan. Pedroia's stop to start the instantly infamous play was amazing. Ah-mazing. Salty makes a good throw, and they're probably out of the inning. Salty puts the ball in his pocket, and who knows what would have happened. But at least it wouldn't have been decided by an umpire. Like the night Kozma tried to turn a double play. Damn straight the umpire made the wrong call. I was already bitching about Kozma dropping the ball before I realized the umpire had called the runner out. But baseball fans live and die by missed calls all season. So NOW we're going to review an unreviewable play? Either way, it was a no-win situation. And to the people asking me about the big controversy, wondering how I can feel good about a win handed to us on an obstruction call made by the "refs"? I'll debate the issue with you if/when you decide to become an actual baseball fan.

  2. Refs? How can you take anyone seriously that refers to a baseball umpire as a ref. And the "refs" didn't hand you the game, the Sox did... LOL