What factored in the umpires ‘obstruction’ call during Game 3 of the World Series?

Red Sox and Cardinals

I know this post has nothing to do with the New York Yankees but last night’s ending to the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox World Series Game 3 was so odd and so mind boggling that it deserves to be looked at one more time. Also there was a lot of debate last night as to what went into the decision of calling the play at third base an obstruction, allowing the Cardinals to walk-off. Here’s my take on it.

You had the feeling last night’s game was going to be a see-saw battle, especially with Red Sox starter Jake Peavy not making it to the fifth inning and Joe Kelley losing his effectiveness as the game went along, leaving it to be the battle of the bullpens. The Red Sox bullpen hasn’t been as effective during the postseason as it had been during the regular season. The Cardinals could say the same during this series. But the bullpen battle eventually ended with Koji Uehara and a Red Sox loss, a loss that wasn’t entirely Uehara’s fault. Below is video from the final play of the game, ending with a Cardinals 5-4 walk-off victory.

Dustin Pedroia couldn’t believe the call. John Farrell wanted an explanation on a night that was full of questionable managerial choices. The Red Sox didn’t believe the call was correct, especially Will Middlebrooks, the person that inadvertently ended the game after tripping Allen Craig while attempting to get up from the ground.

“I had to dive for that ball,” Middlebrooks told MLB.com. “I was pretty inside the baseline, as we could all see. I dive for the ball there. There’s really nowhere for me to go. I got to get up. He’s on top of me. There’s really nowhere for me to go there. That’s a tough one. I was going to push myself up. They said it doesn’t matter. He ran into me. I still haven’t processed it all. I don’t know. I don’t agree with it.”

Here’s the reason why it was called an obstruction on Will Middlebrooks from the rule-book:

“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 the ball’. It is entirely up to the judgement 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 the 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.” 

In the end, the Cardinals benefited from the umpires ruling. The Red Sox will now have to play catch-up in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series tonight. But because of the play from last night, the Cardinals are now in the drivers seat, putting pressure on the Red Sox, their rotation and their bullpen.

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15 Responses to What factored in the umpires ‘obstruction’ call during Game 3 of the World Series?

  1. gcorcoran says:

    Definitely looked like obstruction to me. He kicked his legs up as Craig was trying to jump over him which resulted in the trip and fall. I'm sure we'll still be hearing about this for years though.

    • mlblogsnewyorkyankees13 says:

      I thought that it was pretty intentional in order to prevent Craig from running. Who gets up by putting their legs up when they're on their stomach?

      • MunsonsGhost says:

        Exactly, NO ONE gets up from a face down prone position by kicking their legs up like Middlebrooks did….Ask any person to do it, and they will NOT kick their legs up…Middlebrooks intentionally obstructed Craig from progressing to home.

    • Pscriiti says:

      Ultimately, I blame Saltilamacchia for using bad judgment as well as a poor throw down to third. He should have learned his lesson during the Tigers series in which he reacted to a similar play and threw the ball into left field. In that play catchers are to throw the ball to a specific location and Salti failed to do that. Had he thrown it to the right location the play would not have unfolded as it did.

  2. albundy2013 says:

    Look closely. Craig did NOT trip over Middlebrooks legs.

    • mlblogsnewyorkyankees13 says:

      In slow motion Craig tripped on the upper leg of Middlebrooks. More above the knee.

    • MunsonsGhost says:

      Sorry, he did trip over Middlebrooks legs…Middlebrooks obstructed his progress. According to the rule stated above, you cannot obstruct the runners progress.

      • albundy2013 says:

        He did not trip over the *raised portion* of his legs. He tripped over his upper legs. My point is that even if you believe Middlebrooks raised his legs intentionally, the raised legs had no bearing on the play. Craig tripped over his thigh area.

        • gcorcoran says:

          That's a cop out if you ask me. Which body part he tripped over is the "inconsequential" part. The fact that he was moving his body in a way that obstructed the runner, whether intentional or not, means that he was in violation of the rules. Unfortunate for Red Sox but still not in any way a controversy if you ask me.

          • albundy2013 says:

            I'm not really disagreeing with you. The call probably a correct one. My point is that Middlebrooks really didn't cheat if the move in question had no bearing on the play.

  3. Dave Reader says:

    Craig is out of the 3rd to home baseline. He should not be entitled to interference.

    • MunsonsGhost says:

      Nope, the runner creates his own baseline, when forced to do so, as Craig did…I believe McCarver said that.

  4. Clay says:

    Looks intentional that to me that Middlebrooks tried to interfere. Whether the runner actually trip over the upper thigh or whatever, Middlebrooks was in the way and by raising his legs he called attention to what he was doing. If Middlebrooks didn't raise his legs, he might have gotten away with it. .

  5. EVL says:

    Middlebrooks said, " I was going to push myself up."

    When I push myself up, I don't bend at the knee and put my feet in the air…