Poll: The Walk Off Obstruction

No GIF yet, because the game just ended, but let’s assume that most of you that are viewing FanGraphs at this time of day probably watched the end of the World Series.

Posted by Twitter User @CJZero, here’s how game three ended.

Game3End

For reference, here is the relevant text from MLB’s official rules:

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: If 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.

7.06
When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal “Obstruction.”
If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batterrunner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire?s judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out.
Rule 7.06(a) Comment: When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls ?Time,? with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given; however, should a thrown ball be in flight before the obstruction is called by the umpire, the runners are to be awarded such bases on wild throws as they would have been awarded had not obstruction occurred. On a play where a runner was trapped between second and third and obstructed by the third baseman going into third base while the throw is in flight from the shortstop, if such throw goes into the dugout the obstructed runner is to be awarded home base. Any other runners on base in this situation would also be awarded two bases from the base they last legally touched before obstruction was called.
(b) If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call ?Time? and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction.
Rule 7.06(b) Comment: Under 7.06(b) when the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire?s judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call.
NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.

What do you think?




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


273 Responses to “Poll: The Walk Off Obstruction”

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  1. Timeghoul says:

    He was laying down right in the middle of the basepath and then lifted his legs up when Craig was trying to jump over him to get home. This isn’t even poll-worthy, very easy call and I’m shocked they got it right.

    +36 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • eayres33 says:

      Yes he lifted his lower legs, Craig ran into his upper thigh which he did not move. Did you even watch the contact.

      -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        The upper thigh was moving up a bit, actually, but not so much that it should have been hard to avoid.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chris says:

        The best part of this whole thing: after the obstruction occurred, Middlebrooks lays on the ground watching the play from the dirt. If he was trying to stand up, why wasn’t he standing up? He tried to stand, obstructed Craig, he knew he messed up, so he just laid there to try and protect himself from an obstruction call.

        Salty is the new Buckner. Two errors, two losses.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Devon says:

        According to the rule above, it’s irrelevant whether the fielder is moving or not. I don’t think Salty intended or attempted to obstruct the runner, but he impeded Craig’s progress anyway. I think the home plate ump was waiting to see if Craig would be close enough to the throw before he called obstruction. After all, Craig was held up long enough so that if he hadn’t been — he would’ve scored cleanly.

        +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B N says:

      He was lifting his legs and tucking in his knees in the slow-mo footage until Craig tripped on him. I mean, are you aware of how people actually stand up from a face-down prone position? You typically go to a hands-and-knees, then step up. Part of that motion puts your back legs up a bit.

      While I’m not shocked to see it called interference, I’m not sure how the fielder could have known that Craig would run over him at that exact moment. Craig was at the bag, behind him, and any normal runner going to home would round 3B, not run down the inside of the basepath over a fielder.

      The more interesting question is if obstruction even requires intent. By the letter, him just existing after the ball got away makes him an “obstruction.” That would be a bit unfair though, considering part of the reason the ball got away was that his glove arm hit Craig who was coming into the bag (and so long as he has the ball, he can’t be obstructing).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Timeghoul says:

        It doesn’t require intent, as I’m sure you’ve seen from the posts below this one. The rulebook literally states this exact scenario and calls it interference. Accident or not, it doesn’t matter.

        +36 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • NS says:

          Calls it “very likely interference”, which is a significant difference.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Anon says:

          So, if it is very likely interference, the call is very likely right.

          +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          Actually, the rulebook states a scenario where the fielder “continues to lie on the ground.” It is highly ambiguous over the length of time. As a result, it is ambiguous with respect to intent. If you tried to catch a ball and were on the ground for a split-second, no one would call it intentional or non-ordinary for the act of fielding. If you lay there until the end of the play, almost certainly intentional (or you are injured).

          Given the possibility of “injury-caused obstruction” (i.e., you get hit by a line drive, keel over, and obstruct someone), intentionality is probably not a direct factor. But the duration of “laying” from an “ordinary lay” versus an “extraordinary lay” might well be a factor, given the extremely vague language of the rule.

          In my opinion, the rule is probably intentionally vague to give umps latitude. I think in this case, Middlebrooks’ legs coming up were the reason for exercising that latitude.

          Or, if you’re looking for a better headline: “Middlebrooks’ Leg Kicks Show Joyce an Extraordinary Lay.”

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • NS says:

          Yes, which is significantly different from being conclusively right – the tone most of these comments have taken.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jaack says:

        It be pretty difficult to round third base when you are trying to slide into it. It would probably be pretty bad ass though.

        +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Oppo Taco says:

          Like that Old Spice commercial, where the guy slides headfirst into 1st base and then continues his slide all the way home.
          As Men do.
          As Nick Punto dreams of doing every time he hits a single.

          +27 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          From where he ends up, he still has a straight shot down the line. He does a movement toward 2B that puts the fielder in his path. I’ve watched a few more times, and I’m pretty sure he pivots and takes a step and change toward 2B while he is trying to look for where the ball went.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Question says:

      How in the baseball world does anyone make a play on any ball if this play is called interference? The ambiguity of the rule is built in for these exact situations. It’s the wrong application of the rule. Plain and simple.

      -20 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tripleverbosity says:

        So you believe that the runner should not be able to score because a fielder tried to make a play and is laying in the base path? Without the rule what is the incentive for the fielder to get out of the way? The simple fact is that without Middlebrook there, Craig scores easily. If Boston didn’t want an obstruction, maybe they shouldn’t have made such a terrible throw that resulted in obstruction…

        +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • NS says:

          Craig had a clear open path home and stumbled into Middlebrooks by choice.

          “Without the rule what is the incentive for the fielder to get out of the way?”

          Enforcing the rule this way, it doesn’t matter if the fielder tries to get out the way. There is literally nothing he can do to avoid obstruction.

          -37 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • mandamin says:

          There’s absolutely no chance that he stumbled into him “by choice” — not least because he was looking behind him and had no idea Middlebrooks was there before he started tripping — but I almost wish that were true, because it’d be the most ingenious, devious case of in-the-moment cheating in baseball history. It’s the kind of thing the thought of which keeps A.J. Pierzynski getting up every morning.

          +20 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • williams .482 says:

          It was probably not “by choice,” but Middlebrooks is off the chalk and mostly out of the baseline, in an area where the runner almost never runs through when trying to score from third on that play.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • AC_Butcha_AC says:

      In my opinion it was CLEARLY obstruction.

      To all the guys claiming it is a bad rule, becuase Middlebrooks wasn’t in any way able to not obstruct him after missing the ball.

      What about swinging strikes? The batter gets a penalty for doing everything he could and there was no way he could have hit the ball. Still he gets penalized.

      A batter hitting a deep fly ball with an outfielder waiting under it. What should the batter do for not being called out? Hit a Home Run every time?

      Exact same thing here. It doesn’t matter at all if Middlebrooks had no chance of avoiding this obstruction. This argument could be taken so far as to say a Home Run should not count as a hit because the OF had no chance to catch the ball. Think about a towering drive with no fans directly behind the fence and the OF already there long before the ball arrives.

      I think you get my point… so DEFINATELY OBSTRUCTION! There really isn’t even room for argument…

      -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Anthony says:

    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.

    It’s as simple as that.

    +33 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kevin says:

      Additionally: 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.

      +24 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      Middlebrooks was on the ground as a result of attempting to field the ball. Craig stumbled over his body while running out of the basepath. Also tripped over him before Middlebrooks’ legs came up.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • semperty says:

        Well his legs did coincidentally move up at the same time Craig did…I’m not sure how you get off the ground, but lifting my shins and feet up is typically not my first move.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • evo34 says:

          You might want get down on the floor and try getting up then. Raising your shins is everyone’s first move: the only natural way to go from flat on your stomach to kneeling.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Wobatus says:

          It actually looks like Middlebrooks is trying to get his lower legs out of the way of the base path so Craig has a clear path and the Craig runs inside and runs into his thighs. It’s a judgment call but I wouldn’t have called it. Of course I wouldn’t have known the exact wording of the rule. The umps at least seem to know it pretty well.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • JonnyBS says:

          Let’s just say if I’m trying to get out of the way, I wouldn’t have lift up both of my legs. I have no idea how a person get up/move from the position with both of my legs up.

          Anyway, intent does not matter and Jim Joyce made a great call.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • AJT says:

      He was attempting to field though…he was there because of that. Craig stumbles not too long after the ball gets by. There’s a bit of ambiguity there.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chuckb says:

        At the time he obstructed, he he wasn’t rrying to field the ball. The ball was in left field. I don’t think he’s called for obstruction if he only lays on the ground. He clearly lifted his legs to obstruct Craig.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • AJT says:

          He was just on the ground from fielding the ball. It’s not as if he was laying there for a significant amount of time after the ball was past. Craig stumbled over him about a second after.

          Additionally, Craig tripped over his upper leg(which did not move), not his shins. No intentional obstruction there.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • williams .482 says:

          what was he supposed to do? Attempting to get up would have blocked Craig even more. Should he have started crawling?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          “He clearly lifted his legs to obstruct Craig.”

          On the slow-mo replay, he was lifting his upper body as his legs went up and his knees were starting forward. I don’t see it being particularly clear either way. I’m not sure how he could even tell Craig was going over him at that point. Or, for that matter, why Craig was going over him. Doesn’t one usually “round third,” rather than “tag the bag then run down the inside of the line”? Weird play all around.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • NS says:

          Perhaps the leg lift influenced the umpire’s perception, but it wasn’t physically involved in the obstruction itself at all.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • schlomsd says:

      Also from the rules:

      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.

      +43 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chris Johnson says:

        This. 100% correct call.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • NS says:

        By that definition, there is apparently no way to not-obstruct the runner in that situation. Middlebrooks would certainly have been equally or more so in the runner’s path had he made an attempt to stand instead of “continuing to lie on the ground.”

        It seems to me that if the act of fielding a play is not obstruction, and the natural consequence of fielding this particular play leads to ‘obstruction’ 100% of the time, this play cannot sensibly be deemed obstruction.

        +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • AJT says:

          Exactly the point I was trying to make above.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • tomemos says:

          “By that definition, there is apparently no way to not-obstruct the runner in that situation.”

          Possibly true, which is why you’d better make that throw/catch correctly (or not at all)!

          +31 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • williams .482 says:

          @tomemos:

          I don’t see what that has to do with anything.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • schlomsd says:

          If the fielder obstructs the runner, then it is obstruction. What is so difficult to understand about that? The reason Craig was out at the plate was because Middlebrooks got in the way. How anyone (other than a Red Sox fan) could be okay with that is a mystery to me.

          +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • NS says:

          “If the fielder obstructs the runner, then it is obstruction. What is so difficult to understand about that?”

          The exceptions, obviously. Even if a fielder obstructs a runner, it is not obstruction if he is fielding a play. That is very clear. In this instance, the act of fielding this play results in obstruction 100% of the time no matter what the fielder does. The same concept that creates an exception for fielding a play arguably applies here.

          Don’t muddy the waters with that fan rubbish. Why does an exception exist for fielding a play? It seems clear that the spirit of that exception applies equally well to this circumstance. It’s just extremely unusual. Baseball!

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • schlomsd says:

          @NS

          I’m not sure you realize exactly what would happen if that play is not called obstruction. For example, on stolen base attempts when the ball is thrown into centerfield the fielder could just stand on the bag and keep the runner from advancing to third because “he was looking for the ball, what else could he do?” Same thing with any ball hit in past the infielder – why not just dive into the basepath and not get up? The 1B could do a pretty good job of blocking the runners path to 2B on balls hit down the line. You could easily push the runner off 1B on pickoff attempts too – the fielder was just trying to catch the ball and had to go through the runner to make the play.

          +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Sparkles Peterson says:

          Where you are getting this wrong: Obstruction is not a penalty to punish bad defensive plays, it’s an attempt to set the game state where it would have been had the baserunner and fielder been able to avoid contact.

          +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Mojowo11 says:

          That’s not completely true, though it is practically true. The only way he could have avoided it would be to have hopped up with the same urgency as Craig and gotten the hell out of the way. Too much to expect from anyone, to be sure. But the point of the rule is to ensure that Middlebrooks can’t physically prevent Craig from advancing, intentionally or otherwise. And in that respect, it did its job — Craig scores easily if he doesn’t trip over Middlebrooks there.

          +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ryan says:

          the way to not obstruct the runner would have been to catch the ball.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • John Thacker says:

          In this instance, the act of fielding this play results in obstruction 100% of the time no matter what the fielder does. The same concept that creates an exception for fielding a play arguably applies here.

          Nope, not once he misses the ball. If he fielded the ball, and then had it, it’s not obstruction. But once the ball got past him, it was obstruction.

          It’s true that given the location of the throw by Salty, there was almost no way for Middlebrooks to attempt to field it and fail, and avoid obstructing Craig. The Red Sox put themselves in a situation where failure to field their own thrown ball cleanly guaranteed obstruction. So?

          That’s the fielding team’s fault. The fielding team is only allowed to interact with the batting team via the ball. They’re allowed to do a lot more if in the process of fielding the ball or if they have the ball. Don’t want to obstruct the runner? Better make the play on the ball then.

          +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • SAS says:

          “…there is apparently no way to not-obstruct the runner in that situation…”

          The onus is on the defense to “not-obstruct.”

          On this particular play, here are some ways for the defense to not-obstruct:

          a) The catcher could have not attempted to throw the runner out at third.

          b) The catcher could have not made a bad throw.

          c) The 3B could have caught or blocked the bad throw.

          d) The 3B could have stayed on his feet and let the bad throw go by.

          e) After forgoing options a – d, the 3B could have found a way to avoid bodily contact with the baserunner after the ball got by.

          Again, the onus is on the defense. The fact that they left themselves with no option but e), and the fact that option e) may have been near impossible to pull off, is the risk the defense assumed by foregoing options a) through d).

          +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Dbader08 says:

          NS I still think you can call it obstruction because the umpires use a judgement call on whether or not the runner would have scored in that situation…and it’s only used very rarely, in unfortunate situations like this. It doesn’t have to be intentional obstruction either, the whole point is just that there was something impairing him that neither guy could do anything about at the time with the way things unfolded. So the judgement call comes into effect.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Clarence in Austin TX says:

          Why would the runner be penalized because the fielder could not catch or hold on to the ball? Craig clearly would have scored on the error, in the absence of the obstruction. If the catcher makes an errant throw and the third baseman can’t catch it or even keep it in front of him, I think the expectation is that the runner will score. If the runner is impeded because the fielder created an obstruction trying to field the ball, the runner should not be penalized.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wily mo says:

        yeah, thanks, this is key. the quoted stuff in the post doesn’t actually define what obstruction is, which is kind of the key point

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wily mo says:

          oh, well, now it does. COMMENT OVERTAKEN BY EVENTS PLEASE DISREGARD

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wily mo says:

          also – as a red sox fan, as the play was unfolding, i thought “uh oh, that might have been obstruction” in real time, before it was called. so i think it was probably right. i really wish salty had just held the ball. pete kozma was coming up

          +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        The issue with the definition of obstruction is that it doesn’t clarify for intent. If intent is irrelevant, it’s impossible NOT to be called for obstruction in that case. If he stays there, he’s obstructing. If he moves his legs and trips the guy, obstructing. Which is clearly not how it is typically called.

        If intent is relevant, then the “continues” to lie on the ground needs to be more than an ordinary amount of time. Which was not the case in this instance. So the only call then would be if the umps felt that the legs lifting was an intentional obstruction.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Guest says:

          A good throw and catch is what avoids the obstruction call on that play. Or no throw. The baserunner has the right of way in the baseline unless the defense is fielding the ball. The defense failed to field the ball, and contact was made, impeding the runner in the baseline. Its fairly simple

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pedro says:

        Quoting rule 7.09(i) from MLB.com : “Obstruction by a fielder attempting to field a ball should be called only in very flagrant and violent cases because the rules give him the right of way,”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

          Except the obstruction did not happen because of fielding the ball. He made an attempt to field the ball, and failed. He then lay on the ground, and lifted his legs. The obstruction happened after, when he was not attempting to field a ball – the attempt to field does not continue forever, and this is clearly stated in the rules (when a guy lays in the basepath AFTER attempting to field a ball, and impedes the baserunner, it is VERY LIKELY obstruction)

          +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • John Thacker says:

          Yes, and rule 2.00 clearly says that “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.”

          Middlebrooks was fine while he was attempting to field the ball. The problem was after he missed and didn’t have the ball, he was then no longer in the act of fielding the ball, and then obstructed Craig. If he had succeeded in his attempt to field the ball, it would not have been obstruction.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • TKDC says:

          I think this would be like if there were a pop up on the infield with two outs and a runner on first and the second baseman on his way to catch the ball, intentionally trips the guy running around the bases.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Nombre says:

    Wait, is Middlebrooks the correct noun? Do you call players for obstructing, or do you call players for being obstructed?

    The people demand to know.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Dave from Pittsburgh says:

    It was the right call, but of course the fucking cardinals were the beneficiaries of it, how couldn’t they be?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Timeghoul says:

      I don’t know how it’s their fault that Middlebrooks decided to obstruct Craig’s progress.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jpoulos says:

        I’m going to assume that you were joking when you said “decided”. To be perfectly honest, if Craig weren’t hobbled by injury, he probably could have made it over Middlebrooks and scored and none of this would have been an issue. How is that Middlebrooks’ fault?

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • jpoulos says:

          And this is partially devil’s advocate, but why should the red sox be penalized for that? If Craig isn’t physically capable of stepping over a guy lying on the ground, why should he automatically be awarded the plate? I could see if Middlebrooks got on his hands and knees and *actively* obstructed, but Craig obviously tripped because he can’t move very well due to injury.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

          And it wouldn’t have mattered if he wasn’t lying in the basepath.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • John Thacker says:

          Kind of an irrelevant devil’s advocate, since with the hypothetically more healthy non-tripping Craig, he still would have scored. The Red Sox weren’t “penalized” for Craig being injured (since healthy Craig scores), they were penalized for obstructing the Craig that was there.

          The only facts that matter are:
          1) Craig would have scored if Middlebrooks had not been there in his basepath at all.
          2) Middlebrooks was not in the act of attempting to make a play on the ball (nor did he have the ball) when obstructing Craig.

          Similarly, a runner has to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball, even unintentionally, except when on or sliding into a base. (Unlike a ball thrown by a fielder, where the runner has to intentionally interfere.) It’s no defense in any case to say that “a better fielder could have fielded that without being in the basepath.”

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • grubfisher says:

          Jpoulos: he was not “automatically” awarded the plate. He still has to make an effort to get to home plate so the umpire can make a judgment as to whether or not he would’ve been save without the impediment. Since it was a “bang bang play,” home plate umpire immediately judged him safe.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        He’s just commenting on the absurd luck that the Cardinals always have.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Chase says:

    He lifted his legs, but contact was made with the Middlebrooks’ thigh.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Todd says:

    Correct call, but a sad way for an otherwise good game to end. Craig would have scored without the obstruction, and I wish that had happened just so it wouldn’t seem tainted.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Kevin says:

    The “Obstruction” section of rule 2.00 is more relevant here, since it actually defines what obstruction is. 7.06 just sets the penalties.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Timeghoul says:

    I don’t even care about either of these teams, but I’m glad the Cardinals won this game, especially on a call like this, because John Farrell had the worst sequence of managing that I’ve ever seen in my life in the final three innings.

    -He used Craig Breslow, who sucks, in a tie game in the late innings once again
    -IBB to Carlos Beltran with 2 outs in order to face the vastly superior Matt Holliday
    -No doubles defense that effectively lost his team the game
    -The entire, ridiculous Workman/Uehara sequence

    Good grief, Farrell, how can you possibly screw up that much in just a couple innings?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • semperty says:

      Matheny’s moves were just as ridiculous.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Timeghoul says:

        How? I don’t remember anything like letting a pitcher bat.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • semperty says:

          Well there was replacing a lefty with a righty to face a left handed hitter, then bringing in your only other lefty to face a switch hitter/player with 15 Ks, and a pinch hitter, pinch hitting Robinson before Craig, leaving Kelly in to pitch the 6th, etc. While he didn’t have any plays that were as bad as Farrell’s worst moves, I would say he had more poor decisions overall.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Argoyle says:

    Where is the “I strongly dislike the Cardinals and am not interested in being reasonable about this issue” option?

    +19 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • olethros says:

      It’s spelled “no” in the poll.

      +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        Haha. Not exactly, though.

        The truth is, like many baseball rules, obstruction is very hazily defined. I think it’s part of a long legacy of giving umps discretion and not giving teams rule definitions that are so black-and-white that a manager can say they’re wrong.

        For example, you can do pretty much whatever you want so long as you’re fielding the ball, short of attacking a runner. And the ump gets to decide how long you’re fielding the ball. If the ump decides, “Oh, Middlebrooks tripped you, but it was because he was running toward the ball in the OF”, that’s his technical prerogative. Grabbing overthrown balls is, after all, part of fielding. The truth is, the ump could have called it either way, and the rules are so vague you’d have trouble overturning it in most cases.

        Ultimately, it’s a sucky way to end a game with a team making a throw to home that doesn’t count (if it was obstruction, the ball should have been dead from when he hit Middlebrooks). I’d have preferred to see a reset with Craig at 3B so we could see a game “won on the field.” But that isn’t a rule-set option. Either Craig is out or he scores. Him scoring is the fairer of the two.

        But I’m still not sure if it’s obstruction, because the rules lack sufficient information to make that decision.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KDL says:

      Ah…the classic “Anyone who disagrees with me is an unthinking buffoon” comment.
      (It was the right call, btw. And I HATE the Cardinals.)

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. BJ says:

    But Middlebrooks *wasn’t* in the basepath.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Anthony says:

      What did Craig trip over then?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Barry says:

        Craig took a step towards second before running home. Craig never touches Middlebrooks if steps off third directly towards home

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • John Thacker says:

          The painted line on the field doesn’t matter. From Rule 7.08 (a)(1):
          He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner?s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely; or (2) after touching first base, he leaves the baseline, obviously abandoning his effort to touch the next base;

          There is absolutely no sense in which Craig was required to step off third directly towards home, particularly when Middlebrooks didn’t have the ball.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • JonnyBS says:

          @Barry
          So you’re saying the runner should try to avoid the defender even though the defender’s impeding on the runner’s path. That’s not how it works in baseball, buddy.

          It’s a great call, the right call.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • williams .482 says:

        Middlebrooks, lying just outside of the basepath with no time to move further away.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • TF12 says:

          Baseline and basepath are not one in the same. Middlebrooks was in his basepath. It an unfortunately simple call.

          +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • lewish says:

        craig tripped over middlebrook’s ass which couldn’t get any closer to his crotch without digging a hole and that still wouldn’t have gotten his ass closer to his crotch…and middlebrooks had every right to go after the ball which would have caused way more difficulty for craig’s path and no one seems to be talking about that…I am not a redsox fan but that was a bullshit call.

        -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        Craig didn’t trip. He fell down the stairs. Go to sleep, Anthony.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John Thacker says:

      He was in the runner’s baseline. The baseline is not the painted line on the field. The runner (and an attempt to tag a runner) establishes the runner’s baseline. See Rule 7.08 (a)(1):
      “A runner?s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely;”

      When going from home to first, the three feet around the painted line come into play when possibly interfering with a fielder at first place catching a ball, but it doesn’t come into play when running.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. HughKl91 says:

    He was clearly attempting to stand up when Craig pushed him down while stumbling over him. If that is obstruction as he had already failed to field the ball when Craig slid into him, that rule needs changing. As it is currently laid out, that is obstruction, but that is a poorly laid out rule as Craig initiated the contact both sides of 3rd.

    -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Timeghoul says:

      He initiated the contact because he was trying to, you know, run towards home and win the game. Are you serious?

      +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wily mo says:

        watch the gif. he runs over and jumps on middlebrooks. he could have gotten by. i’m pretty sure he did it on purpose. i also think middlebrooks did try to trip him a little bit. i can’t really argue with what craig did, it was a heads up play given the rules are what they are

        -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Timeghoul says:

          So you’re saying Craig tried to flop in a World Series game in order to get a call from an ump instead of simply trying to run hard towards home and score the winning run that way?

          If this was actually his intent, can we just put Craig in the Hall of Fame right now? No player thinks faster than him.

          +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wily mo says:

          watch the gif. maybe i’m wrong, that’s what i’m seeing. and take it easy, i’m a red sox fan who says he thinks the call is right

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wily mo says:

          also i don’t think you should go in the hall of fame just for thinking fast, so no

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • robby bass says:

          Theres no way he was trying to “draw a flag” there. He tripped and umps made a call. The reason were all discussing is because of yje magnitude of yhe call.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          There is zero chance this was intentional. Allan Craig was lumbering around out there with the grace of a wildebeest mated with John Kruk. And obstruction is rarely called. While I’m not surprised it was called, I’m betting it was due to Middlebrooks’ legs being up at the right time. If Craig just trips (which, from the replay, it looks like he might have anyway…), he probably doesn’t get that call. So basically, Craig would have needed to run inside the basepath AND somehow force Middlebrooks to raise his legs at that very moment.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • JonnyBS says:

          wily mo, you’re wrong.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wily mo says:

          maybe i am. craig does kinda run at middlebrooks, but after looking at it some more, it might just be because having slid feet-first into third, craig’s body was pointing back towards second, so his impulse to quick-restart got him moving back towards second a little bit before starting down the line, just because that was quicker than rotating around the bag before starting to run. i didn’t consider that at first

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wily mo says:

          also, after watching it more, i think the people who are saying that middlebrooks lifted his legs in an attempt to clear the basepath (not realizing craig was already bearing down on / impacting him amidships) are also correct

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • lewish says:

        and are you serious middlbrooks ass sticking up while lying flat on the ground is what tripped craig and if he had tried to do anything like go after the ball or anything like you know get out of the way he would have caused way more “obstruction”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:

      When I typically try to stand up after I’m lying face down, I tend to push my toes and hands into the ground so my ass comes up first, not swing my feet around

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B N says:

      I wouldn’t say it was clear either way. On the fast-mo, it looks like he’s tripping him. In the slow-mo, looks like he is trying to get up, then getting stepped on before he makes any progress. But no real way to gauge intent.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matt says:

        How do you get up by swinging your feet like that? Is Middlebrooks starting up a Spin-A-Rooni?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          It’s really not that complicated, actually. From a face-down prone position, you have two ways to get up without rolling. In the most common way, you push up with your arms, raise yourself into a kneel (with your feet trapped, facing the wrong way). Then, you step up with one foot, then the other.

          In a slightly less common way, because it’s a bit more acrobatic and likely to lead to scraped knees, you pull your legs in and forward toward your body BEFORE raising your torso with your arms (or simultaneously). When you do this, your legs go up before they go in. If you don’t believe me, try it. The advantage of this approach is that your feet will be on the ground when you get them into place so you can “pop” up rather than “step up.”

          The second way is probably slightly quicker to get on your feet, if you don’t mind beating your knees on the ground a bit.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • robby bass says:

          Actually, fir shits ang giggles I just did and there is no way middlebrooks was attempting to get up in the way you describe. That would almost be the least atheletic wauy possible. Im assuming he was looking to syand upfast, Iin which case he puts his hands on the ground brings his hip up and feet forward and landing flat on the ground. Im 10 years older and not a professional athleate like middlebrooks. Bottom line- yeah he eas lookin to create an obstacle.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          @Matt and Robby: Don’t go being obstructionist. Try it.

          Lay face down, pull your legs directly in toward your torso as you push your torso up. You will find your lower legs kick up significantly. They really have no choice. I’m not saying it’s intentional or unintentional, as it’s unclear. But I am saying that there are definitely quick ways to get up that involve that motion. It occurs when you balance on your knees.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          @Robbie: I also just did it. Twice. Once before posting that it occurs (because I wanted to test my memory) and once after you said it “doesn’t happen.” It’s really not that hard. Your lower legs definitely swing up if you try to tuck your legs. If we had a Draw Something Style board, I could hash out the stages.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        Yeah, I don’t think there was any intent.

        Of course, intent is completely irrelevant.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BJsworld says:

      Craig “initiated contact”? You mean he slid into 3rd base like he’s supposed to? That’s initiating contact?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Slats says:

    What was Salty doing throwing to 3B with two outs?

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Sam says:

    Based off the letter of the rule, it’s obstruction whether Middlebrooks tried to block Craig or not; he was no longer “in the act of fielding the ball” because the rule explicitly states you can’t be in that act after attempting to field the ball and missing.

    The other point some people seem to be ignoring – Allen Craig scores easily if he didn’t trip over Middlebrooks. The call would have been even more controversial if it went the other way and the Red Sox won the game.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. David H says:

    Wrong rule. This rule is about how to award bases once obstruction is called, but doesn’t speak to the poll question of whether obstruction should have been called.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Joel says:

    Really should have included poll options to account for whether the voter is a red sox, cardinals or [other] fan.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Person says:

    This is a poorly designed rule. Based on the wording it was impossible for Middlebrooks to avoid obstruction. His only choice would have been to just let the throw pass him and get out of the way. Not what this rule was intended to do.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • semperty says:

      Or…you know…catch the ball. That’s always an option, too.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Evan says:

      The rule isn’t designed to punish Middlebrooks for bad behavior, it’s to have the end result be what would have happened (in the judgment of the umpires) had the obstruction not taken place.

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Brad says:

      The ruling was right, per the rule. But it’s maybe not a great rule, since Middlebrooks couldn’t avoid obstruction there. However, at least it is objective, rather than leaving it up to the umpire to judge intent.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • John Thacker says:

        He could have avoided obstructing Craig by catching the ball. Or by Salty making a better throw. He’s allowed to try to catch the ball, and to attempt to tag Craig once he has the ball.

        It’s almost guaranteed that if he missed the ball, he would be obstructing Craig. But that’s the price you pay for missing the ball thrown by one of your teammates that puts you in an obstructing position.

        You definitely can’t penalize the Cardinals or Craig for the Red Sox missing a ball thrown by one of their own players.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Justaguywholikesbaseball says:

    Garbage!

    Craig trips clumsily, all on his own. People were complimentary of James lonely for sticking his foot in front of (I don’t remember who)’s hand earlier in the postseason. That play offered far greater obstruction…

    As I said – Craig falling is Craig’s fault.

    Salty shouldn’t of thrown to third though… Shouldn’t of.

    -7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Guy says:

    Sox fan and I voted correct call based on Rule 2.00, but why in the world was Craig running on the inside of the basepath?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • semperty says:

      Runners take the inside part of the baseline all the time….not exactly unusual to see a runner not in the baseline at any point.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pft says:

      Because he slid into 3rd and got up on the inside of the bag, not running fast enough to slide past the bag.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        I don’t think that’s right. I’ve looked at it a dozen times now, and I think he stepped toward 2B as part of his motion to turn around and see where the ball was in the OF.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • John Thacker says:

          Right. Which he’s allowed to do. A runner is allowed to establish nearly any baseline to the next base.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • DCer says:

          @John:

          Wrong: a player cannot establish a base path to home, from third, by going towards second base. The play was called per the letter of the rule, but the rule does nothing from discouraging runners from taking advantage of a prone defensive player – as is what happened on this play. This is not what the rule was intended to do.

          Everyone seems to be claiming that WMB was no longer “in the act of fielding” as the ball was in short LF. WMB clearly tried to get up since he didn’t know where the gal was. For all he knew, the ball was 10 feet away and he would be the first to go get it. Therefore, since he was still on the ground after diving to make the catch – only about 1 second after “trying to make a play” – and he clearly was trying to get up and continue to make a play on the ball – he was absolutely still in the act of fielding the ball. It’s akin to the rule in the NFL where a player making a catch has to maintain possession all the way through the catch. A player diving for a ball and then scrambling to get up because he doesn’t know where it is, should certainly be afforded the ability to try and get up and find it.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • jpg says:

          @DCer – His initials are WM. His name isn’t Will Middle Brooks.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. John Ray says:

    This seems really clear to me: “After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the act of fielding?”

    And…

    “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.”

    Those two statements together make this the correct call. Don’t have to like it, and it does seem there was little if anything Middlebrooks could have done that would not have been obstruction, but correct call according to the rule. He missed the ball and was no longer in the act of fielding. He clearly impeded Craig’s progress. Kicking his feet up is almost irrelevant.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • PB says:

      Kicking the feet up just made it easier for Joyce to make the call. Would have been right either way. Too bad it happened, Craig scores if not tripped, rather easily (almost beat the throw with the obstruction), and we could avoid the controversy.

      Bottom line – If the runner is obstructed, intent notwithstanding, by a fielder not fielding the ball, it is obstruction and the next base is his. Every time.

      Also, this happened in 2006, as well. Scott Rolen ran out of the basepath and basically tackled Brandon Inge, and was awarded home as a result. Wasn’t a walk-off score, but still contributed to the win. Not a new rule, but an easy call and the ump got it right.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Pedro says:

      Quoting rule 7.09(i) from MLB.com : “Obstruction by a fielder attempting to field a ball should be called only in very flagrant and violent cases because the rules give him the right of way,”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • John says:

        First: That rule is relating to interference, 7.09. 7.06 relates to obstruction.

        Second, again : “After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the act of fielding”

        He missed the ball, he was no longer attempting to field it.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      Agreed. All this talk about the baseline vs the basepath or whatever is completely irrelevant. This call is as obvious as Kozma’s non-catch in game 1.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. KM says:

    1/3rd say no obstruction? Maybe if we could all make our own rules based on what seems fair/intent/etc, but there is no way to read rule 2.0 and say that wasn’t obstruction. I’m glad these umpires aren’t going nba style and treating high leverage situations differently.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Mookie says:

    I would normally agree with ‘yes’ wholeheartedly, except for the fact that Craig steps TOWARD 2nd base before running home. The basepath itself is clear. Middlebrooks doesn’t have to clear the three foot radius surrounding it, guys…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, how often do you see a baserunner take that path to the plate? He was entirely inside the basepath until a couple feet from home. That said, my brain registered “intentional trip” as the play was happening.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Guy says:

    This also would’ve been, what…like the 50th time Craig has been thrown out at home this year?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Matt says:

    For all those who said Middlebrooks tried to get up: he was on his knees long after Craig had passed him. So much for trying to get up.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      Except for the fact that Middlebrooks said as much in his post-game interview. Regardless, it’s irrelevant since even if you’re right it’s still obstruction.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • B N says:

      Totally. The fact that he got stepped on, then fallen on, and the play was over at that point were probably irrelevant. Good sleuthing, Matt, you’ve cracked the case!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Chuck says:

    It was a call firmly within the rules, but it was on such a normal play—a runner sliding wildly and taking out a fielder and the two getting tangled up. It happen all of the time and you never see a call like that except in the most egregious of circumstances when the fielder is clearly in the way of a runner. The way it looked on TV, Craig was rewarded an obstruction calls because he’s hurt, can’t run well, and thus took out Middlebrooks with an awkward, ungainly slide.

    This does not take away from utter stupidity of Salty’s throw—the Red Sox would’ve had two outs, a gimp on third, and the worst Cardinals’ hitter due up—but what an unbelievably awful way for a World Series game to end. Salty’s throw also now makes it two games in a row that the Sox have blown with errant throws to third. That’s how high school teams lose…

    Obviously my fan bias clouds my objectivity, but come on… Let the games be decided on player skill (and player stupidity), not obscure judgment calls. If baseball wants to keep on sending its TV ratings down and its median viewer age up, this is exactly how to do it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ruki Motomiya says:

      I can’t recall many times I saw this, especially with a player falling over, but I still +1’d this for the bit about Sox blowing errant throws to third.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • John says:

      You act as if the “utter stupidity of Salty’s throw” has nothing to do with the “games be decided on player skill (and player stupidity).”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chuck says:

        Maybe I divorced those thoughts too much in my rant but I would have had a much easier time of swallowing the bitter pill if it’s just Craig scoring in the traditional, touch-the-plate-before-the-tag way.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Pedro says:

      Quoting rule 7.09(i) from MLB.com : “Obstruction by a fielder attempting to field a ball should be called only in very flagrant and violent cases because the rules give him the right of way,”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        Not relevant, however. Once the ball goes by, by the letter, he’s potentially “no longer fielding” (which is a complete judgment call by the ump).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • lewish says:

          ..but I don’t think that is true, because once the ball goes by he is trying to get up and go after the ball it is his right that is part of fielding too but craigs gimp legs trip over his butt…it isn’t obstruction the ump decided the game…

          -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

          lol lewish – you’re saying Middlebrooks was trying to get up to go play the ball way out in left field? He’s lying in the way. The rule is clear. Salty decided the game with the errant throw. Give your head a shake.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • olethros says:

          OK then, we’ll erase the obstruction call, and let Middlebrooks go field the ball and attempt to throw Craig out.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      Wasn’t it decided by player skill? Salty made a horrible decision and a horrible throw.

      Besides, if the umpires decide not to call obstruction on a play that was obviously obstruction, and Kozma makes the next out, didn’t the umpires decide the game?

      What about close ball fours with the bases loaded? Umpire shouldn’t call ball 4 regardless of where the pitch is if the umpires are deciding the game?

      The umpires didn’t decide the game. Salty made a bad throw and, by doing so, left Middlebrooks hung out to dry in a position where he obstructed Craig. It’s the unpire’s job to call it. They’re deciding the game if they don’t.

      They didn’t decide the game. Salty made a bad throw and,

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I don’t see how there is really any doubt that’s obstruction.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. balticfox1917 says:

    I actually thought it was a pretty clever move by Middlebrooks. Once that ball got by him, he knew the game was over.

    He “coincidentally” lifted one of his legs just as Craig started to run, giving the OF time to retrieve the ball and throw home.

    Of course, if Middlebrooks does a better job of making sure that throw doesn’t get by him we don’t get to argue about obstruction. And why Salty felt compelled to throw after what happened in Game Two, I can’t understand.

    Oh well, that’s baseball and people will be talking about this ending for the next decade. We old time Orioles fans still remember the controversial ending to Game 4 of the 1969 World Series. (Baserunner running out of line towards first and being struck by ball. Umpires ruled it wasn’t “intentional.”)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. 2 points-
    1. While Craig looked to have tripped over Middlebrooks thigh and not his raised foot- looking at it live it looked like he tripped over Middlebrooks feet- which is probably how the umpire saw it.
    2. Middlebrooks is kinda in the basepaths but he isn’t on the third base line so there was actually room for Craig to run around Middlebrooks.
    That being said-I don’t know what to think.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • semperty says:

      If the runner has to run AROUND the fielder, he’s probably obstructing the play….

      +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • AJT says:

        Craig had a clear, open path if he just rounds the base. Unfortunately, because Middlebrooks is lying nearby, he has the option to basically force obstruction.

        http://twitpic.com/diwnif

        Take a look at the picture. Craig steps towards second for no reason, and then heads directly into Middlebrooks even though there is clearly room for him to simply round the base like most runners naturally would. The call is correct in a technical sense, but this doesn’t become an issue without Craig deliberately taking a path that makes the call able to be made.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          This. It’s not like Craig was trying to get an obstruction call though. He was just obviously a mess on the basepaths.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • AJT says:

          Wasn’t meaning to imply that he did it on purpose per se, but trying to say that this was all Craig’s fault for being awful.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jason B says:

          Yes, of course it was all Craig’s fault that there was a ball in left field and a player splayed between him and home plate. Of COURSE!

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • B N says:

        The weird thing is, there’s no reason why Craig should have been there in the first place. Who runs from 2B to 3B, then steps back toward 2B, then starts running toward home?

        So there was clearly no need to run around him. Craig’s pretty appalling base running caused the need in the first place.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

          He slid into the base, and popped up on the inside and looked to LF to see where the ball was. He’s not racing to round 3rd base and go home – his goal was to get to 3rd base before the throw and put himself in better scoring position. Are you even watching the same play the rest of us are?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • B N says:

          @Matt: He slides into home, he stands up. He’s basically on 3B (and, indeed, literally has his foot on it and the other foot is fairly close to the bag). By the time he is running, he’s well inside the line by about a step and a half (as he trips over Middlebrooks’ upper thigh).

          It’s hard to tell on this one, but from watching it a few times, it seems like he steps toward 2B to turn and see where the ball went (as he emerges from the slide with his back to the OF). That’s a bonehead play. You want to step toward home plate or at least round 3B as you check (looking over your shoulder), because that’s where you want to be. An even better baserunner would have just started down the line and looked to his 3B coach to tell him if he should go for it.

          In short, Craig made what should have been an easy run look very, very hard.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • DCer says:

          @Matt: wrong. He clearly steps towards 2B, in fact his first step over WMB is on the infield grass. He clearly took and irregular line to home plate, with his body pointed in the direction of 2B and his first step to 2B. Do we really need to instruct you to look at the gif?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Pedro says:

    Quoting rule 7.09(i) from MLB.com : “Obstruction by a fielder attempting to field a ball should be called only in very flagrant and violent cases because the rules give him the right of way,”

    Terrible call if this quote of the rule book is accurate. This should probably be posted in the article

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pft says:

      It was flagrant, and based on how Craig limped off the field it was violent as well. Almost looked as if Craig was spiked. Without the contact and obstruction Craig scores easily,

      Also, I dont kick my legs up like that when I am trying to get up from a prone position. Even if it had nothing to do with the call, it shows me that WMB intended to obstruct Craig.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:

      Why don’t you spam more Pedro…geeze.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Freddie says:

    Middlebrooks was in the act of fielding the ball. He had to get up like that in order to put momentum into his legs so that he could move to find the ball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      The ball was in left field. Middlebrooks absolutely was not trying to field it. He did try to field it but once it got by him to left field, he wasn’t anymore.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DCer says:

        Wrong – he didn’t know where the ball was the SPLIT SECOND after it got by him. For all he knew, it could have been within 10 feet. His job as a fielder in that situation is to find the ball and field it. Just like in football how a WR has to maintain possession through the catch, the same principle should apply here: if the player is laying on the ground the split second after diving to make a catch, he should be afforded the right to get up and find the ball to continue making a play on the ball. Where the ball was is irrelevant: the rule shouldn’t dissuade a defender from making a play bc they fear where they will end up.

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  30. Ruki Motomiya says:

    Perhaps more importantly, though: Can we offically call this the Yakety Sax World Series?

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  31. Ron says:

    After looking at the .gif a few times, it seems Craig steps into Middlebrooks when there is a direct practically unobstructed route towards home. Middlebrooks then lifts his legs which had Craig not stepped into him would have left the direct path even more open. An argument (not a great one) could be made that Middlebrooks was actually clearing the path for Craig by lifting his legs.

    It seems like a good call and it probably was. Craig moved into Middlebrooks much like a catcher throws the ball into the back of a runner who is in the path of a throw to first and outside the running lane, even if he might have made the throw without hitting the runner. Hitting the runner makes sure it gets called. If Craig had to hop over Middlebrook’s feet or nimbly navigate them on the more direct path the obstruction might not get called so he steps into the body to make sure he gets the call.

    Not sure all that goes into the head of a player so maybe it was all just a mess that turned out in the Cardinals favor. At least the series is interesting.

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    • pft says:

      But without the obstruction or contact he scores easily without any obstruction being called. Why take a chance on the umps getting it right, a 50-50 proposition at best?

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  32. JP says:

    It was obstruction. Repeated time and time again, intent doesn’t matter. Who cares if Middlebrooks couldn’t get out of the way. He was blocking the runner. Done. Perhaps he should do a better job of it next time.

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  33. Breadbaker says:

    I’ve seen a number of comments to the effect that this is a stupid rule because what could Middlebrooks have done? That’s not the point. If Middlebrooks isn’t in the way, Craig scores, game over. If it’s not obstruction, Craig is out. So there has to be a decision whether what Middlebrooks was doing is going to matter. Baseball set the rule in advance and that’s the rule. It’s not a moral issue; it’s a rule in a game and this particular time it happened to lead to the result of one team losing a World Series game. If it had been written another way, the other team wouldn’t have won a World Series game. But it’s the same rule at second base in a game in April light years from a pennant race.

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    • NS says:

      You would be correct if there were no exceptions made to the obstruction rule. That is, if it was plain and simple – “if you obstruct, it’s obstruction not matter what” – your analysis would be complete.

      But that’s not how it works. There is a very clear set of exceptions made to that rule and thus the analysis falls on whether these circumstances belong to that set. That’s where the conversation starts.

      Middlebrooks was not actively fielding a play, but the act of fielding that particular play leaves him in a circumstance in which it is impossible not to obstruct the runner. So the question is why does an exception exist for fielding a play? Presumably because the rule is designed to deter players from gaining any advantage not inherent to play on the field. These circumstances are inherent to fielding a play. By that line of thinking, this should not be deemed obstruction.

      There are several interpretations and assumptions involved there, but those are the core issues. It is certainly not an obvious call.

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      • John Thacker says:

        That line of thinking of yours contradicts Rule 2.00:

        “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: If 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.”

        In that exact example in Rule 2.00, the infielder is continuing to lie on the ground due to circumstances “inherent to fielding a play,” (and missing.) And it is obstruction– the rule specifically contemplates a situation where a fielder missing the ball almost surely results in obstruction.

        The act of fielding and failing leaves him in a position in which it is impossible not to obstruct the runner. If he catches the ball, no problem.

        The exceptions in the rules about the runner and fielder all revolve around the ball. The fielders are not allowed to delay or impede the runners without the ball, but they are allowed to do so with the ball. The rule is that they are also allowed to so in the process of fielding the ball. Once Middlebrooks attempted to field the ball and missed, he was then delaying the runner without the ball.

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    • Brad says:

      Actually, even if the rule was written differently, the Cardinals still had a decent chance to win.

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  34. Freddie says:

    Rule 7.08(b) Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.

    Craig could have run around Middlebrooks. By running into Middlebrooks, he interfered with his ability to try to field the ball. Craig is out on interference.

    -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • semperty says:

      Why does Craig need to go around the fielder…? It’s not like Craig’s first step off 3rd was in one direction, and then he changed to run into Middlebrooks. His first step was off the inside part of 3B towards home.

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      • Hendu for Kutch says:

        ???

        That’s actually exactly what happens. Craig takes a step towards 2nd base, then starts running home. I thought you were joking the first time I read that, because you described exactly what happened.

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    • chuckb says:

      You can’t be serious. Craig, by trying to run home, impeded Middlebrooks’ ability to chase the ball down in left field? Craig has no obligatoon to run around the fielder. Middlebrooks is obligated to get out of Craig’s way. That he couldn’t is on Salty, not on Craig.

      You’re either trolling here or wishcasting.

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      • AthleticPride says:

        He doesn’t need to chase down the ball in left field to be in the act of fielding or attempting to field the ball. At that point he doesn’t know where exactly the ball is, so he is attempting to locate it. That is part of attempting to make a play on the ball. What if they wind up with a pickle at the plate and Middlebrooks can’t make a play in it because he was pushed down at third? He doesn’t need to chase down the ball in left to make a play. Not saying he’s right, but I will say it is just as interpretable a possibility as obstruction.

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      • Guest says:

        You’re a wishcaster.

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    • AB says:

      “batted ball”

      It wasn’t a batted ball at that point.

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    • John Thacker says:

      Batted ball. Rule 7.08(b) says, before the comment:
      “(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball;”

      Rule 7 makes a distinction between a batted ball and a thrown ball in many places, as here.

      A ball thrown by another fielder, as the case here, requires intentional interference by the runner. That is moot, since Middlebrooks was not attempting to field the ball anyway.

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  35. B N says:

    Really, this isn’t an answerable question without a clearer definition of obstruction. We basically need to know three things:

    1. Intent Required – Does obstruction consider intent? (e.g., Is “he continues to lie on the ground” indicating an inordinate amount of time on the ground, or even when it would be impossible to move in time)

    2. Only In Basepath – Does “impedes the progress” require that the runner be in the normally expected basepath?

    3. Intent Assumed – Was Middlebrooks intentionally putting up his legs to obstruct?

    Category 1: Intent Not Required
    Case 1.A: Regardless of Basepath – Definitely obstruction. Craig tripped on him.

    Case 1.B: Basepath Required – Very murky. Craig takes a step and a half towards second before breaking toward home. Nobody runs from that position to home, and it’s close to being out of the basepath.

    Category 2: Intent Required
    We can ignore the basepath conditions, as they’re unchanged and take precedence over intent, if they’re required.

    Case 2.A. Intentional Tripping – No doubt on obstruction, if you assume this. In real time, it looks like it. In slow-mo, it doesn’t look like it. If this was the root of the call, they might have amended it in the replay booth.

    Case 2.B. Unintended Tripping – If you assume it was not intended, or that Craig tripping over the thigh (which was prone) means that the intention didn’t impact the outcome, this would mean that Craig is just a bad baserunner and deserves to be out.

    This is all I know for sure:
    I. If some level of intent or non-ordinary action is not required, it should be. Otherwise, I don’t see how you can say it’s “not in the act of fielding.”

    II. I have no idea as to if the regularity of a runner’s movements should impact the obstruction call. I would assume that they do, otherwise runners could just careen into a guy who has them in a pickle but doesn’t have the ball, get an obstruction call, and take a base. However, I would be loathe to not call obvious, intentional obstruction just because a guy is a bad baserunner.

    III. Craig IS a bad baserunner, even for a guy with a bum leg. Why is he going toward 2B before going home? Did he forget something?

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    • B N says:

      I should clarify that for 2.A., while they MIGHT have amended it, they probably would not have. I also highly doubt they would amend it to an “out+inning over.” Possibly some sort of “calling a dead ball, Craig at 3B” might have occurred. But I doubt they would have changed anything due to the onus on replay to show incontrovertible evidence.

      On the converse, if they hadn’t called obstruction an were forced to convene for replay (like could happen next year) and intent were required, they probably would not have called it obstruction. If intent was not required, they probably still do (depending on the basepath issue).

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    • John Thacker says:

      Obstruction does not require intent. It only requires the lack of the ball, and not being in the process of fielding the ball.

      (Interference by a runner in fielding a ball requires intent in the case of a thrown ball, but not in the case of a batted ball. It also has an exception for sliding into base.)

      In no sense was he ever “close to being out of the basepath.” The runner establishes his own basepath; at the point when the fielders start to try to tag him, he cannot deviate by more than three feet from the straight line from his current position to the bag he attempts to reach. There is a rule about the three foot radius of the running lane to first base for throws to first, but that’s a different (but often confused) issue.

      Craig was completely within his rights to try to stand up (but stumble) while looking over his shoulder and then decide to break for home.

      Speaking on rundowns, you might notice that fielders without the ball do try to get out of a runner’s way, including when throwing it back and forth.

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  36. Bustacard says:

    The umps got it totally wrong. Craig interfered with Middlebrooks attempt to stand up, thus depriving him of the chance to mess up again. Craig also interfered with Saltamachia’s lack of brain activity, prompting him to try and think and leading him to noodle arm the ball innacurately to Middlebrook’s waiting, stone hands.
    All kidding aside, terrible way to end a WS game. Correct call, but would have been much more satisfying if Pedroia weren’t such a good 2B and we got a clean, walk-off single.

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  37. pft says:

    Its so clearly obstruction once you read the rules there really is nothing to discuss.

    When the throw went past Middlebrooks I thought Craig had home easily, but the contact with Middlebrooks made it a close play at the plate. Without the contact its not even close

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  38. BStrong says:

    Don’t you people know what Boston has been through? What’s a little trip compared to a city in mourning? Boston needs this. Terrible call

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  39. B N says:

    Also, as a final thought-provoking issue: Did Craig’s foot hit Middlebrooks’ foot and cause him to fall in the first place? The ball wasn’t very far away. I have no idea how he ended up laid out, based on the live feed, the slow-mo, or the GIF (none of them show the back of the bag very well).

    There’s no way I’d call that interference, but if it lead to the ball scooting away, I’d say it offsets obstruction.

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    • Evan says:

      Interference with a fielder making a play on a thrown ball requires intent to interfere on the part of the runner (rule 7.08 (b)).

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      • B N says:

        Hence “there’s no way that’s interference.” But it would seem odd that you could help knock a guy down, then he gets hit with obstruction for being in your way.

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  40. Big Papi says:

    SO ANGRY I DESTROY EVERYTHING ARRRCCHHHGHGHGH

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  41. Jim says:

    The more I watch the play, the more I feel like the contact is all Craig’s fault. I don’t have a rooting interest in the series. I’m equally tired of both teams, which is to say very.

    The reason I feel that the contact is on Craig is because when he gets up, rather than “rounding” the base or going the way that his momentum is taking him, he turns the other way, back towards the fair territory side between 3b and home. Middlebrooks couldn’t possibly have gotten more out of the way than he did (there wasn’t time), but his momentum from having tried to make the play carried him almost completely onto the infield grass. When Craig trips over him (pushing off Middlebrooks’ back briefly, which could account for the splaying of the legs), his hand nearly lands on the infield grass.

    I doubt that there was any intent or anything, but the reverse rounding of the bag was responsible for the players’ legs getting tied up from what I can see. Had Craig followed through the slide and run either along the fair/foul line or gone into foul territory (as is the norm) running towards home, the players wouldn’t have gotten tangled up. He probably would have scored with ease despite the LF getting to the ball quickly.

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    • Rob says:

      Craig had no momentum. He was lying on the ground next to the third base bag and got up basically at his center of mass then proceeded to head in a straight line home.

      It also doesn’t matter if he initiated contact at all. If you’re in a rundown you look for people to run into so you can get an interference call.

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  42. Dana Demuth says:

    It wasn’t obstruction.
    Craig has run inside the third-base line.
    If Craig run outside the third-base line, it was obstruction.
    So that third-base Umpire IS WRONG.

    -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • E says:

      No, he can run wherever he wants. He was on the inside part of the base so he ran on the inside part part of the basepath.

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  43. Chris says:

    Couple thoughts…

    In my view, the Sox lost this game by pitching to Jay in the first place. Why not put him on first and play for a more conventional double play? Kozma is a weaker hitter than Jay by all accounts.

    Secondly, I really think Craig thought he was out at 3rd and may have taken the step back to second thinking that was the end of the inning. Once he realized the throw got by he then took off for home, thus creating his own basepath. He’s not going to run around Middlebrooks to get in the actual baseline. The fastest way home is a straight line, unless there’s an obstruction.

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  44. red sox blow says:

    You wouldn’t call that interference, but your not an umpire so you can just deal with it sucka hahaha

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  45. tyke says:

    i hate the cardinals with an above-average passion and i agree with the call.

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  46. Hank G. says:

    Since I was (slightly) rooting for the Red Sox, I asked myself what I thought the call should have been had the teams been reversed. That made it easy to decide that the obstruction call was probably correct. (This also works for political questions, although it’s not always easy to do.)

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  47. Poncedog says:

    Any argument that Middlebrooks was not obstructing doesn’t hold water. How many other fielders (not making) plays should be allowed to lay in the base path to make an obstacle course for the runner? Of course, none. All the rule says is that Middlebrooks had a right to be there but that Craig also had a right not to be impeded by his presence.

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  48. lewish says:

    why isn’t anyone looking at the definition of interference Middlebrooks has a right to go after the ball but can’t cause he is being run over by the runner marginally in the baseline…this type of play happens in overthrows at first base all the time a lot of inadvertent contact because runner is trying to advance and fielder (go after the ball)is trying to go after the ball and unless egregious usually plays out…yeah sox made bad play but umps didn’t have to decide game it would have continued to another inning or so and concluded.

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    • Matt says:

      Umps didn’t decide the game – Salty decided the game. But keep thinking otherwise.

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      • B N says:

        There’s no doubt the bad throw decided the game. The only thing that brought the umps into this was Craig’s baserunning. Almost any other runner in the league wouldn’t have even been in the position to get tangled up. And most of them would have the legs to beat out that throw anyways.

        I was shocked that:
        1. There was a throw on the play at all (before the tangling up)
        2. That they beat Craig (even after the trip)
        3. That Craig was not out when they tagged him (the ball is supposed to be dead after obstruction, wasn’t the game over already?

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        • John Thacker says:

          No, the ball is only dead if a play is being made on the runner when obstruction occurs. (Or a batter that hasn’t reached first base yet.) See Rule 7.06(b):
          “(b) If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call ?Time? and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction.
          Rule 7.06(b) Comment: Under 7.06(b) when the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire?s judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call.”

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  49. RedSoxFan says:

    Trying to watch this and be unbiased, but obviously I am. I understand the rule interpretation most people seem to have and don’t entirely disagree. Three things though….

    1) What a shame that this rule is not clearer – MLB needs to fix this ASAP. if the infielder “continues” to be in the way – it is “likely” obstruction. I am not sure why baseball left the “continues” and “likely” in the rule – does the “continue” refer to an intent to stay longer than normal? Why include continue? Does the likely refer to if the runner would be safe or if there is an intent by the fielder to obstruct if he “continued” too long? Horrible wording by MLB.

    2) I hate the step Craig took towards 2B. After watching this over and over, (admittedly biased), I do think this was intentional in order to make contact. I think this was a smart but cheap play by him. If the interpretation is that he intentionally tried to make contact when he otherwise could have avoided it, how does that change the interpretation of the rule? I think it should.

    3) Agree that this was a terrible decision by Salty and by Middlebrooks too – and after a similar play the game before – geez learn your lessons. If you make that throw, you better make it a good one. and if you’re WMB – you better stop that ball. Middlebrooks missed Hollidays grounder earlier on a play I thought he should have made – terrible night for him. Salty couldn’t look worse at the plate or in the field.

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    • ADB says:

      I don’t see how you could think it was intentional by Craig. He would have scored easily if he didn’t run into Middlebrooks and he wasn’t even looking at him when he ran into him. There is a pretty good discussion of this at Over The Monster which is the Red Sox SBN site. Most people there agreed with the call.

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    • snack man says:

      If I meant what the current interpretation is, I’d write, “For example: If an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and in lying on the ground he delays the progress of the runner, he has obstructed the runner.”

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  50. rundugrun says:

    Craig took a step toward 2nd base, then decided to go home. He did not take a direct path to the next base. It is not obstruction, imo.

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  51. vivalajeter says:

    I didn’t watch the game live, but after reading some articles, I thought it’s universally accepted that it’s the correct call. I was surprised to see that 28% (at this moment) said it was the right call. Any way to view results by time period? Maybe it was 50/50 right when it happened, and it’s more like 90/10 in later voting?

    As for people that talk about the step towards second, it looks to me like he turned around to look at left field, to see where the ball was. Whenever you look backwards, you don’t walk straight. People do it in my office all the time – they’re walking down the hall, look to the side, and next thing you know they’re walking on an angle. I find it hard to believe that he consciously took a step towards second in order to induce contact. The much smarter path – if he was able to make a decision in a fraction of a second – would be to avoid contact and score easily.

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    • RedSoxFan says:

      I disagree…it looks to me that Craig’s extinct was to try to draw contact in the hopes of just such a call. Just like a NBA player would flop to draw a foul, a soccer player would take a dive to draw a card or a WR would try to draw a pass interference call.

      As you point out, at an absolute minimum, the path taken to home plate was unorthodox. The rules, by being vague as to what the “likely” and “continues” mean, appear to allow for discretion by the umpire. WMB did not “continue” to lie on the ground longer than should be expected or get in the way in such a way to “likely” cause obstruction.

      I think the rule and implies there needs to be intent. The intent if anything lies with the runner not with WMB.

      I also think that Jim Joyce likes being in the spotlight and the umps played a much bigger role than they should have – especially with balls & strikes earlier in the game. I believe there was a pitch to Ellsbury that was a minimum of 6″ outside and several other poor calls.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Why try to draw contact, when you can score easily without contact? It’s not a close play at the plate if he doesn’t fall. He scores standing up. It makes no sense to trip in that situation, especially since there’s a chance that the umpires would not call it obstruction due to the timing of the play.

        Yes, NBA players flop. It’s tough to equate a defensive move with an offensive move, but would somebody flop on the last play of the game – hoping to get a charging call – if he was guaranteed to block the shot anyway (the way that Craig would have won the game anyway)? Without the flop, he wins the game – with the flop, he relies on the ref to win the game.

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        • RedSoxFan says:

          I can’t otherwise explain his detour directly into Middlebrooks. It just seems to me that in that fraction of a second his instinct was to veer off course directly at Middlebrooks instead of taking the more direct path (straight line) to home plate. Maybe he was off-balance – maybe it was with intent. No-one besides Craig can know.

          But whether he intentionally ran into middlebrooks to draw contact or not…..the outcome seems to rely more with Craig taking an orthodox route (with or without intent) to home than with Middlebrooks being in his way. Based on the rule seemingly having ump discretion, I would think that if the runner is more to “blame” than the fielder, obstruction should not be called.

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    • Digger says:

      You have to remember a large fraction of the votes came in within 15 minutes of the game ending since this was posted nearly immediately.

      I’m one of the people who originally said “no” but changed my mind later in the evening (similar to guys like Keith Law)

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  52. MB923 says:

    Maybe this has been brought up already, but I have a question on another rule. The Losing Pitcher. How did Workman get the loss if the player who scored the winning run (Craig) was Koji’s responsibility?

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    • baycommuter says:

      In a tie game, all that matters is who put on the first runner, not which pitcher put the runner who actually scores in that situation. You see this more often in situations where the first pitcher gives up a walk and (with the second pitcher on the mound) that runner is then forced at second, with the batter who hit into the force coming around to score.

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  53. catswithbats says:

    All this talk about Craig being outside the baseline is misleading anyway, as it doesn’t matter as long as there’s no play on him. Craig can only be called for running outside the baseline (that he’s established) if he’s trying to avoid being tagged.

    There also seems to be a lot of confusion over what the baseline actually is. It’s definitely not the fair/foul line, TWITTER.

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  54. Chris says:

    This is the type of argument you see after an NFL game. Reason being, NFL rules are designed to be enforced when umpires determine them to be enforceable, and judgement-laden calls dominate the sport.

    This rule is as clear as it gets, and it is a shame that so many people can’t see that the right call was made. This call did involve judgment because Craig was tagged out, but anyone who knows the rule understands why he is safe.

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  55. Sockless Moe says:

    For a website that specializes in the calculation, record, and discussion of deliciously objective stats there’s a lot of bias and defensiveness in this thread.

    As a non-Cardinals or Red Sox fan I feel that the call was correctly made as that’s what’s in the rule book.

    It seems like a lot of people don’t like the rule itself, which is fine, but don’t argue that it wasn’t the correct call when it clearly was.

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  56. wes011 says:

    Even if obstruction is called in this situation (which I believe was the right call) Craig still has to touch home plate, which he never did.

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  57. Timeghoul says:

    Jim Joyce, after the Galarraga call: “I didn’t want this to be my 15 minutes of fame. I would have liked my 15 minutes to be a great call in the World Series.”

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  58. Divcoman says:

    “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.”

    This comment on the rule has been quoted repeatedly. But does it apply here? Middlebrooks was not diving at a ground ball. He was lunging for a THROWN ball. It appears to me that MLB needs to clarify this situation. I think the umps interpreted this as well as they could. But the rule book is NOT clear.

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  59. Swfcdan says:

    Not got time to read the whole rules or peoples comments but heres my view.

    It wasn’t obstruction because Middlebrooks DIDNT get out of the way, he had no chance to do that. It was the fact that he DID obstruct the runner, by lifting his legs in the air! No need to do that and Craig had no way to avoid him, watching it back it almost seems delibrerate from Middlebrooks so totally deserved the call going against him.

    If he hadnt done that then Craig would have been safe and game over.

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  60. Swfcdan says:

    But the BIGGER STORY is this imo:

    Firstly why didnt the Red Sox set up the DP by walking Jay? It was Pete Kozma coming up!

    But once they made that decision it was a HORRIBLE decision by Salty later on. Why on earth did he throw to 3rd after the out at home, its only Kozma coming up! It was WAY too risky in that situation, airmail or mis throw it and the games over, and he got exactly what he deserved with an errant throw costing the game.

    The story should be Salty not the call. That was a terrible decision to throw at full speed to 3rd with no guaranteed out, he was trying to be the hero. Definately should’ve taken their chances with Kozma and 2 out and a runner at 3rd. Its Pete kozma!

    You need to have a full game awareness of whos coming up and Salty didnt have it. If Beltran or Holliday was coming up then, yes, its worth making the throw in hope of getting the 3rd out at 3rd (there was only a slight chance I thought). But with Pete Kozma coming up??? Just EAT IT.

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  61. GilaMonster says:

    I think here is the consensus.

    1.The umpire got call right. The rule is very clear.
    2. Any problems are with the rule, not the call. Intent seems to need to be addressed.
    3. The Red Sox deserved to lose after batting Workman. Possibly the worst managerial decision I’ve seen.
    4. A non-call probably would have been less controversial than a call, which makes it interesting.

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    • ADB says:

      If the Cards went on to lose the game I think it would have been a very controversial non-call. This really is not that controversial as almost everyone who is not emotionally invested in the outcome(and most who are) think that it was pretty easily the right call.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      I don’t think intent needs to be addressed. It’s not a punishment, it’s fixing a mistake.

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  62. Wes says:

    Let;s ponder, for a moment, this exact scenario playing out but the roles are reversed. It;s Fenway park, bottom of the 9th, tied 4-4. David Ortiz is headed to 3rd base, and Yadier Molina airmails it into left field. David Freese lays out to make the catch with Ortiz sliding into 3rd right beside him. Ortiz gets up, but trips over Freese in the process, but he then gathers himself enough to scamper towards home. Holliday picks it up and fires home with Molina getting the ball just a split-second ahead of the sliding Ortiz, and he applies the tag. And the umpire signals “out,” and no obstruction is called. All of the Sox (and others) yelling that this call is BS, how would you react in that situation?

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  63. James says:

    I think most people complaining about Craig are forgetting what the rule is in place for. Could Craig have avoided Middlebrooks? probably. Should he HAVE to avoid Middlebrooks? No, he has teh right to the shortest distance from point A to B, and Middlebrooks just happened to be in between. Regardless of intent, Craig has every right to run home with out having to avoid a fielder on the ground like a dead tree.

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  64. Brian says:

    Wow, as someone who loves FanGraphs – and holds it and its readers in high esteem – I’m disappointed in these polling numbers. By the way, I’m not a fan of either team.

    Having played baseball throughout high school and college, I’ve seen obstruction called a dozen times. In some situations, it wasn’t even this “flagrant” (I’m assuming no intent in these situations). It’s not *that* rare. I understand that the “walk-off” and high stakes gave it special significance – and if I was a Red Sox fan I would definitely be bummed out. However, fans of the game – especially those as knowledgable as I expect from FanGraphs – should know that this isn’t football or basketball. You can’t impede the runner in any way, the refs can’t “let them play”, and the refs don’t base their rulings on intent (aside from pitchers plunking batters, but even then that call is still fairly formulaic these days).

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  65. Christina says:

    The letter of the obstruction rule as called last night pretty dramatically changes the mechanics of the game at 3rd base and home plate.
    http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=22278711

    Technically in a run down situation, the catcher really has the sprint after the runner, ball in hand and hope he can catch him. Or the runner can get the score every time. Just wait until the ball leaves the catcher’s hand and plow into him. We learned from Joe Torre last night the base path goes with the runner, so just change your path if you have to. Intent doesn’t matter according to MLB.

    This is a BS call. Last night’s call was a BS call.
    The obstruction definition in 2.0 of the rule everyone is citing could better be interpreted as a case where a batted ball gets by a fielder and the fielder is no longer in the play.

    But in the case of a play between 3rd and home when the ball is being thrown around, all players involved in the play should be considered in the “act of fielding” until the play is over. (The first baseman who blocks the bag in anticipation of a pick off throw bit not in the act of catching a pick off throw is not generally called for obstruction either. If they were, no one would ever be out on a pick off throw because every first basemen gets on the bag before the ball is thrown.

    In a run down or a pass ball, the fielders actually involved should be considered in the act of fielding and having a right to their position UNLESS the obstruction is flagrant or intentional. The seconds before or after a ball leaves the hand or glove shouldn’t matter. Remember A-rod’s tomahawk chop there (interference call.) Arroyo was holding the ball, so why do we remember the “intent” mattering there? Why did we even have the discussion about “natural running motion vs. intentionally slap?” If Arroyo would have simply dropped the ball when A-rod ran into him, people would say “oh well, that was his bad Red Sox baseball luck.”

    That Middlebrooks was no long involved in the play or in the act of fielding a nano second after the ball passes his glove is a purely ridiculous, even if it is the “correct” interpretation. The video above is exactly why it should be clarified, as that is also a “correct” interpretation. Craig got his feet tangled with a defensive player tried to field a bad throw. Its bad luck for Craig. But you can’t give a guy a game winning in a World Series game because he was unlucky.

    There’s lots of judgement and leeway written into this rule for a reason. So the umps don’t have to count nano seconds that separates “fielding” versus “not fielding” the ball. Sometimes the right call is more important than the correct call.

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    • David H says:

      I don’t agree with your take on run downs. You see players throw and get out of the way all the time. They usually run a bit of a weave, throwing, getting out of the way and taking the place of the player they threw to. The problem with the Mesoraco rundown you posted is that the umpire called obstruction where Mesoraco pretty clearly did not aim for home, but rather jumped toward the pitcher’s mound to slam into the catcher after the catcher threw the ball. Just a bad call, not a bad rule.

      Craig, on the other hand, stood up rather naturally out of a foot-first slide into third, which placed him on the fair side of the line, and headed directly for home. Middlebrooks was in the way, and was no longer in the act of fielding a ball.

      Stepping back from the technical aspects of it, I still think it’s the right call. Which is more “fair” – Boston making a bad throw, causing their fielder to inadvertently tripping a Cardinal who would’ve scored, and consequently getting the out at home ending the inning, or Boston making a bad throw, causing their fielder to inadvertently trip a Cardinal who would’ve scored, and having to accept that the run is allowed? I think the latter.

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  66. Christina says:

    ^ sorry for the bad grammar. I shouldn’t make comments on my tablet but I’m too lazy to boot a laptop.

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  67. Colin says:

    I’m curious based on reading the rule, it seems that the umpire has discretion whether or not to call the obstructed runner safe based on whether he would have been safe if no obstruction had occurred, correct?

    So what happens if the umpire determines that Craig could not have scored on that play even if he was not obstructed? Based on the rule, it does not appear he could be ruled ‘out’ even if that determination is made, so is he just awarded 3rd base in that case? What do you make of that particular nuance of the rule?

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    • Colin says:

      Nevermind, upon reading the rule again it seems clear he gets the base no matter what the umpire decides. Got caught in a weird area of the language and missed some of the other text.

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  68. Christina says:

    Yeah as far as I know, the runners always get the base ahead of where the call was. Which is what makes the “intentional” obstruction above in the run down that much more offensive. Its hard to argue the play would have resulted in a run, but causing the obstruction guaranteed the run.

    This was also an issue in the famous A-Rod/Arroyo play.

    http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20041019&content_id=900353&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy

    A-Rod basically said after the fact he should have run him over. Torre also notes they could have tried to draw the obstruction.

    Not saying Craig tried to draw the obstruction here, but I think its clear they need look at this rule – and I’m not convinced the umps didn’t have the leeway to do that last night. There’s considerable “judgement” allowed for in the obstruction call.

    They just announced during the game that MLB is going to review the rule. Now that word is out and the runner can always beat the run down and score…I think they pretty much have to.

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  69. chief00 says:

    Lost in all of this, of course, is a brilliant play by Pedroia followed by a boneheaded play by Salty/Middlebrooks. The former saved the game; the latter contributed to losing it. Merkle’s Boner and Salty’s Screw Up/Middlebrooks’ Muff? Sheesh, talk about sexualizing the post season…

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  70. Frank says:

    Shouldn’t the poll read:

    Yes – 75%

    Why am I here? – 25%

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  71. snack man says:

    It’s worth pointing out that the base path isn’t a thing until there is a play on. How far off the line is immaterial.

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  72. joe says:

    Did the runner go back and touch home after the play?

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  73. JPDavis says:

    So I know this is a couple days after the play but something in the rules above jumped out at me.
    Rule 7.06 states that “When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal “Obstruction.” It then goes on to say in that “the umpire shall signal obstruction…with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given; however, should a thrown ball be in flight before the obstruction is called by the umpire, the runners are to be awarded such bases on wild throws as they would have been awarded had not obstruction occurred.”
    Joyce never signaled obstruction per the rule book and even if he did, according to the rules above, since the ball had not been thrown when the obstruction occurred, the play should have been called dead immediately.
    So for someone who has been an umpire for 26 years wouldn’t you think Jim Joyce knows how to signal obstruction? Apparently not. This would suggest DeMuth made the call on his own, since the signal was not the correct signal for obstruction and no conversation between Joyce and Demuth ever took place.

    So, in my opinion, the umpiring crew really effed this one up. According to the rules, obstruction was never called and the play was never ruled dead, which ultimately would make Craig out at the plate.

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  74. Johnhavok says:

    It’s simple. The way the rule is written, it’s 100% the correct call.

    The only argument about this play that anyone should be having is whether or not they believe that the rule should have language included about the fielder “intending” to obstruct or not.

    But if that’s what they want, then they’re going to have to re-write a ton of other rules that relate to obstruction or interference that currently exist and all ensure that intent is also taken into account. And to do this, you introduce the umpires judgement into more calls on the field and they then have to be responsible for reading the minds of players and trying to judge what they intended or didn’t intend to do. No way umpires or players would really be in favor of this.

    Take it for what it is; a play that rarely happens, was called correctly and will go down in history as yet another reason for Sox fans to whine about a loss if they don’t win the World Series.

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