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.