Posted November 05, 2013

Watch: Cardinals win Game 3 on walk-off obstruction call (with official rule)

World Series

The Cardinals won Game 3 of the World Series in one of the most unlikely ways possible: by being the beneficiaries of an obstruction call at third base that allowed the winning run to score, negating what appeared to be two outs at home plate on the same play that would have sent the game into extra innings.

It was the final heart-stopping moment of a thrilling Game 3 between Boston and St. Louis, and it appears the umpires got the call right. According to the MLB Rule Book:

OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.

The call came when Cardinals baserunner Allen Craig tripped over Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks while trying to score on an errant throw that had hit Craig and gone past Middlebrooks into leftfield. The throw from leftfielder Daniel Nava beat Craig to the plate but third base umpire Jim Joyce had already ruled obstruction on Middlebrooks. It caused a moment of confusion when the Cardinals came out to celebrate their 5-4 win while the Red Sox surrounded home plate umpire Dana DeMuth — whose missed call at second base in Game 1 was overturned in another rare instance — to complain that Craig was clearly out. Boston soon realized Joyce had made the call at third awarding Craig home plate before Nava even made his throw, and trudged off the field trailing the World Series 2-games-to-1.

CORCORAN: Tied at 1-1, winner of Game 3 almost unbeatable lately in World Series play

The rules, and the replay, both suggest it was the correct call. Incidentally, Joyce — who is known best for being the ump who blew the call at first base that would have given Armando Galarraga a perfect game back in 2010 — now has another reason to be remembered in baseball history.

It all started when St. Louis came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning of a terrific game with the score tied 4-4. Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman struck out Matt Adams leading off but Yadier Molina then singled into rightfield. Craig, who was relegated to the bench due to the lack of a designated hitter in the National League park, then hit for the pitcher. Boston countered with closer Koji Uehara, but Craig doubled to leftfield on Uehara’s first pitch, sending Molina to third base.

With first base open, the winning run on third, one out, light-hitting Pete Kozma on deck and the Cardinals essentially out of pinch-hitters (only backup catcher Tony Cruz remained on their bench), the Red Sox opted to pitch to Jon Jay. The result was what you see in the video above, one of the wildest endings to a World Series games ever. Jay hit a hard ground ball to second, where Boston’s Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop then threw home to get Molina, who was running on contact, for the second out.

JAFFE: Sloppy defense has been early story of World Series

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then threw to third to try to get Craig for the third out, but his throw tailed into the runner, somehow hitting Craig and scooting under his arm to trickle into foul territory in shallow leftfield. Craig popped out of his slide to try to score on the error, but tripped over the prone Middlebrooks. The fall allowed Nava’s throw from leftfield to beat Craig to the plate, where Saltalamacchia applied the tag, but the umpires, correctly, ruled that Middlebrooks, however unwittingly, had obstructed Craig and ruled him safe.

And you thought walk-off home runs were exciting.

315 comments
DJ White
DJ White

Final Word....Even with the Gift call: Sox are World Champs.  I guess that whole revenge for '04 thing was horse shite

aggowl
aggowl

The fielder has an obligation to get out of the runners way. If he does not, even if he cannot, by definition it is interference and can be called by any of the umps.  The runner is awarded the next base regardless of whether he would have made it or not.  There was NO judgement call made or to be made. it was clearly interference.

HaroldvanBeek
HaroldvanBeek

Obstruction would have been the right call if the runner would take the shortest way to home. In this case the runner took a full step back to 2nd base and in that way put the 3rd base player between himself and home plate. The runner created the obstruction and that should have never been called like that. The fielder was 2-3ft on the inside of the base line. Total BS and therefore not the right call.

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

That's what happens when you throw the ball over the 3rd baseman's head.  Red Sox suck.

sjmessier3
sjmessier3

As a Sox fan, I didn't like the outcome of this game, but by strict definition of the rule, it was called correctly.  Now MLB is saying the competition committee will be reviewing the rule over the winter.  If the Cards end up winning the series in say 7 games, this will definitely go down as a black mark for baseball.  Not that the Cards won, but that they won by one game, that was given to them by such an obscure rule, that could be changed right after.

dinohealth
dinohealth

You miss the point about the next base umpire making the call!  Joyce was not the next base umpire, it was DeMuth!

dinohealth
dinohealth

Bad call any way you look at it.  DeMuth, as the next-base umpire, failed to make the judgement call of whether Craig would have made it to the plate, by simply deferring to Joyce's earlier "obstruction" call (even if the call was correct, which it was not).  Umpires awarded this game to St Louis; title of story should read: "Umpires eke out a 5-4 win for ST. Louis".  Series stands at 2-1, Sox ahead, if you throw out the game won by the umpires!  Sox in five, still, in games decided by performance! 

jcrawford
jcrawford

The obstruction should have been called on the runner because he pushed the 3rd baseman to the ground obstructing him from getting out of the way of the runner. It is what it is but a bad call in my opinion.

ITakeException
ITakeException

1) Allen Craig interfered with Middlebrooks in his attempt to catch the throw from Salty. 2) Craig interfered with Middlebrooks AGAIN by holding him down as Middlebrooks attempted to get up and participate in the play. In EITHER instance, the play should have ended there, Craig, sholud have been called out at that point, and the inning (and game) should have ended THERE. MLB (as well as the umpire crew) has sullied its reputation (perhaps irreparably) by focussing on the end of the play, rather than what took place before the "end of the play."

chad20
chad20

Middlebrooks chucked his legs up in the air. He's a competitor; it's instinctual. But umps getting a call like that isn't instinct, it's skill. I hate the call. I hate the throw from home. I hate the L. But I gotta admit, it gives me more confidence in the umps in this series. Like that overturn call in game 1 (which I've never seen before), they got it right. 

drunkLobster
drunkLobster

Headline shouldn't be that the Cardinals won with an obstruction call.  It should be that Boston threw away another game at 3rd base.

TheBurntIce
TheBurntIce

Ok, some people have never played baseball, apparently. The call was the right one. There are some things that people seem to be confused about. The baseline is not the white line, that's the fair and foul line. There's a maximum of 3 feet each side of the base for the baseline as to avoid runners from circling around a tag.

Craig slides into 3rd and the ball hits off his arm, this is not an out, only a batted ball that hits a runner is an out. Middlebrooks dives and misses the ball, thus falling to the ground. Craig looks back to see if he has a shot at home and when he  turns to run to home, Middlebrooks' lower body is obstructing his legal path (less than 3 feet of the base). Craig, thus tries to step over him and trips with him while doing so, and puts his arms down to avoid falling. He falls, nonetheless, and is thrown out at home due to the impediment of Middlebrooks. That's why the Home Umpire waits for the play at home to make the call, to see if the obstruction affected the outcome of the play. The 3rd base Ump called obstruction immediately and Home Ump acknowledged him.    

djt41020
djt41020

Yes this is obstruction.  

The cardinal player choose not to go "directly home" as he would have had to go throw middlebrooks legs, so he decided to try to go over his torso, and was obstructed.

Also according to rule 7.06  obstruction is a free pass. "the obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he last legally touched before the obstruction."

So once that obstruction happened at third base, the game was over.

Also from the umpires angle at home, it looks like he touches. 

Also the third base umpire signalled to home about the obstruction, notice the pointing and the third base ump having his head on a swivel.

And finally it doesn't matter if its intent or not.  If a runner is impeded in any way by a fielder after they have attempted to field or play a ball or without ball in hand (the key being they don't have the ball or are not making a play) it is obstruction.

One more thing I think Boston wants some cheese to go with their whine.

batdizzle
batdizzle

Watch the video of the play slowly. You will see 

1. The third base umpire is watching the ball out in left field, not the players at third base when the obstruction occurred.

2. When he turns to look at third, both players are on the ground.

3. The runner ran into the fielder on the ground because he was heading in the direction of the pitchers mound.

4. The fielder never blocked the baseline between third and home. That was clear.

Is it obstruction? The baserunner had an unobstructed path to home by running the baseline.

Instead the runner decided to run over the fielder on the ground. 


needguncontrol
needguncontrol

the important thing here is that BOSTON LOST! We HATE THE RED SOX!!!

umpire43
umpire43

Did Craig touch home?  If not, he could have been been called out if properly appealed.  If, of course, Demuth was watching.  What a firestorm THAT would have created!

KeysSteven
KeysSteven

Good obstruction call by umpire crew.

Middlebrooks not only "imped(ed)" Craig's "progress," he looks to've done it with intent.  Notice how once Will hits dirt, he leverages & moves himself backward, then raises his legs for no apparent purpose other than to "impede."  

Making matters worse for Boston is fact that Cards were negotiating the plate so poorly (Molina) they just might've thrown Craig out at home anyway, w/out Will's human speed-bump routine.

hjwall
hjwall

The legs in the air were not the obstruction. Middlebrooks lying on the ground between Craig and home was the obstruction. If the throw to home had beaten Craig by more, he would have been called out. He did not have a free pass to go home.

eni_d8
eni_d8

The sad part is that if Middlebrooks would not have put his legs in the air causing the obstruction, I think the Sox would have a real chance of throwing Craig out in the plate, he is not the fastest runner.   Nevertheless it was a good call by the umpires.

hjwall
hjwall

There is a great deal of misunderstanding, still, about what was called. The announcers got it wrong from the outset and the replays of the play keep showing their mistake. The call was not interference, but obstruction. The umps did not say that the third baseman did anything wrong or intentional, or that he should have gotten out of the way. The obstruction call by the third base ump just means that the runner did not have a clear path to home. The home plate umpire then judged whether or not that obstruction kept the runner from beating the throw. Falling to the ground because of the obstruction certainly made Craig unable to beat the throw. He was out by couple of feet but the fall cost him maybe five feet. That's why he was called safe.

DavidBorough
DavidBorough

The rule example states "has very likely" obstructed the runner. Allows judgment. IMO the rule should allow for batting team to accept resulting play or maintain last safe base for incidental obstruction/entanglement. In this case, Craig gets a "free play" to try for home with no risk...out, team takes safe at third. Score? They win. P.S. I want the Cards to win.

NEsports27
NEsports27

OK I'll admit I'm biased since I'm a Sox fan.  But this is not obstruction.  Watch the slo-mo replay. From 2:02-2:04 Craig slides in hard while Middlebrooks was attempting to field the admittedly bad throw from Saltalamacchia, and his forward progress stops.  He attempts to resume at 2:07 and stumbles at 2:09 (while moving towards 2nd base rather than home), while he is nowhere close to Middlebrooks.  At 2:12 their legs are not touching, but Craig has both hands on Middlebrooks forcing him down.  The hands are off at 2:14, at which point their legs have still not touched (you can see the infield dirt and Craig's shoe through the air gap) but Craig is clearly past the point of no return in his stumble.  The legs don't make contact until 2:16, when Craig has fallen and Middlebrooks is completely prone, in the spot Craig pushed him to in order to keep him there.  Craig did all this on his own. 

This is even more clear than Jason Donald being out.  But hey, Jim Joyce got a book deal from that blown call.  Maybe he can make some cash off this one too.  Why do your job right when you can make some money AND get some headlines doing it wrong?

lakawak
lakawak

@DJ White By "gift call" do you mean correct call? Just because some 12 year old with an internet forum account doesn't understand the rules does not make the call a gift call.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@jcrawford If the call was that blatantly wrong, please explain the lack of an official protest by the Red Sox organization.

atepper001
atepper001

@ITakeException this comment actually made me laugh, thanks.  runner has a right to the base path and to slide into the bag. it is not interference on the runner. compare it to breaking up a double play.  and quite the stretch to say he held middlebrooks down when he was trying to participate in the play. seems like you either have your boston can do no wrong goggles on or just never played baseball. not to mention it is quite obvious middlebrooks threw his legs into the air to block the runner.  and by the way, i HATE ST LOUIS so there is no bias here.

drunkLobster
drunkLobster

@batdizzle Incorrect.

1. The umpire clearly turns his head and sees contact between the runner and the fielder.

2. See #1

3. No.  The runner was running in the direction of home plate.

4. When the fielder fell, his foot was touching the chalk in front of third base.  He is outstretched, clearly between the runner and home.

Correct call.

atepper001
atepper001

@umpire43 most insightful comment on here. very good point. just like a HR, walk, HBP etc that forces in a run, you have to actually touch the base / plate to have the run count. of course, the other team needs to protest the call on the field of play before leaving after the other player leaves the field of play and does not attempt to go back and touch.

BillAllen
BillAllen

Actually, I'm rethinking my reply on your comment. It appeared he didn't touch home plate, and you may have a point here. However, if it hadn't been for the obstruction, he would have made it to home plate quicker and he wouldn't have had to dodge the play that way. I think Demuth may be able to judge him safe at home whether he touched the plate or not. Maybe, but not sure. Interesting point you raise!

BillAllen
BillAllen

It doesn't matter whether he touches home or not in this situation! By virtue of umpire Jim Joyce's call at 3rd, and then his running home, he's awarded home plate due to the obstruction.

BillAllen
BillAllen

Whether it's intentional or not, it's still obstruction (as you know). But as a little added flavor, yeah, I'd say it's willful obstruction. Go lie on your stomach like Middlebrooks, and then try to get yourself up. Nobody bends their knees upwards in that manner to try to get up. Only adds to the obviousness of the obstruction call!

LowFlyin
LowFlyin

@hjwall It is the 3rd base umpire's judgement at the time of the obstruction as to whether or not the runner would have acquired home unimpeded.  Once the umpire signaled obstruction, the runner could have walked to the plate and still been awarded home.

BillAllen
BillAllen

Yeah, Middlebrooks may have gotten away with not being called if he hadn't put his legs up. He made it look so obvious!

NoBiasIntended
NoBiasIntended

@eni_d8 He was laying in Craigs baseline to home which was the obstruction.  Watching the video, it looked like he purposely tried to trip him anyways.  He shouldn't act so innocent.

BillAllen
BillAllen

Agreed! But I think the obstruction cost him more than 5 feet!

BrentHill
BrentHill

@hjwall Ive read all your posts and your pretty much bang on. Just want to clarify though, there is no such thing as interference on a defensive player. Interference is when a runner hinders the play of a defensive player. Obstruction is when a defensive player hinders the play of a runner.

Like you have said on other posts that the 3rd baseman lying between 3rd and home is clearly obstruction and that is 100% correct in this case. Rule clearly states that if a runner is obstructed while trying to advance he shall be awarded that base. Now 1 can argue that obstruction occurred while the runner was getting up but not trying to advance hence the judgement call at home. IMO though, he was obstructed while trying to advance so i believe the proper call would have been to award the runner the next base. Kinda like a runner going from second to third on a ground ball to short and the runner has to jump over the short stop, runner is automatically awarded 3rd on obstruction. Now lets assume the ball gets by the short stop and the runner tries to make it home, then the judgement call comes back into play at home plate. 

hjwall
hjwall

Craig did not have a free pass to home. If he was out by five feet or more than he would have been called out.

BillAllen
BillAllen

No, not good analysis at all. This is not what happend!

drunkLobster
drunkLobster

@NEsports27 Here's what I see.  At 2:07 he gets up from his slide, plants his back foot and leans in towards home, establishing the base path from his current position to home plate.  At 2:09 his the runner's right foot makes contact with the fielder's thigh, and the runners hands go down to stop his fall.  At that point obstruction has occurred.  

aggowl
aggowl

@atepper001 @ITakeException agree... how many really know the rules???

The play was over when Middlebrooks did not get out of Craig's way.  He has an obligation to do so unless he is in the act of making a play on the ball.

The runner has NO obligation to do so. Like it or not, that is the rule. 

DavidBorough
DavidBorough

@hjwall I was stating what I think the rule should be with incidental entanglement -- it should be like offsides in football -- the offense gets a 'FREE PLAY' -- if it ends up bad, they can take the foul, which in this case would've allowed Craig to stay safe at 3rd even though he was thrown out at home. I just don't agree with giving the run there unless there was intention. In other words, I don't like the rule as  it's written. Still then, the umps could've decided this was NOT obstruction, even according to the rules -- because the rule states, "HAS VERY LIKELY". That gives a small amount of wiggle room to make a judgment call as it is.

NEsports27
NEsports27

@drunkLobster @NEsports27 I see what you're getting at, I missed that the first time, but I do disagree (though I do agree it's possible).  Since Middlebrooks' body itself is in the way we can't know for sure, but it looks to me like he started the pivot OK then lost his balance partway through.  Had he made contact with Middlebrooks, his falling motion would have been toward second base (his pre-pivot) direction, not home

hjwall
hjwall

Terrible analysis. The call was obstruction, not interference.

BrentHill
BrentHill

@hjwall Obstruction occurred AND the runner attempted to get to the next base. He should have been awarded home. 

hjwall
hjwall

He wasn't given the run. The judgment of the umps is that the obstruction delayed the runner enough to prevent him from beating the throw to the plate. There is no doubt that Craig was delayed because of the player lying between him and home. The umps judgment was only about whether the delay was significant enough. Again, Craig was not awarded home.

drunkLobster
drunkLobster

@NEsports27 @drunkLobster I disagree.  If his foot made contact with the fielder's leg (which it looks like it does) he would have fallen in the direction of his motion (towards home) which he did.

InterestedBystander
InterestedBystander

@hjwall So you're saying a Cardinal could have obstructed a teammate. You can't be serious. A defensive player can be guilty of obstruction. In this scenario an offensive  teammate can only be guilty of gross stupidity. You aren't going to make an award that rewards the offensive team in a situation like that.

BrentHill
BrentHill

@NEsports27 @hjwall He could have tripped 5 times on his own, thats irrelevant. Contact is irrelevant. Bottom line is Middlebrooks was lying between 3rd and home and thats obstruction. Lets assume Craig pops up from his slide smoothly, then jumps over top the 3rd baseman on his way home and gets thrown out, its still obstruction. The obstruction took place after Craig touches 3rd AND in an attempt to take the next base. he actually should have been awarded home! 

NEsports27
NEsports27

@hjwall My contention is he lost his footing turning to face home and fell of his own accord, regardless of where Middlebrooks was. 

hjwall
hjwall

So you're contention is that Craig just fell and that the fact that Middlebrooks was lying between him and home did nothing to delay him. That's pretty desperate, and obviously silly.

NEsports27
NEsports27

@hjwall That's my point.  Craig's stumble occurred independent of Middlebrooks.  He would have lost that time regardless since Middlebrooks being there did not cause him to fall.  Not to mention him having both hands on Middlebrooks at 2:12.  You can't hold someone in place one second then complain they're there the next.

hjwall
hjwall

Craig did not cause Middlebrooks to dive to the ground going after the throw. As soon as he is on the ground between Craig and home the obsobstruction is there. The existence of an obstruction has nothing to do with contact. The effect of the obstruction is because of the contact.

NEsports27
NEsports27

@hjwall Right on the rule, wrong on application. The only time Craig lost was due to his own mistake, hence no obstruction

hjwall
hjwall

Wrong. It doesn't matter who was at fault. There was a player lying between the runner and home, so there was obstruction. Craig falling onto Middlebrooks did not cause the obstruction. The obstruction was already there. In fact if somehow it was a Cardinal lying between the runner and home, it would have been obstruction.

NEsports27
NEsports27

@hjwall Doesn't matter.  There's still no violation if the runner's lost time was his own doing.  Holding Middlebrooks down is just icing