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Friday, August 29, 2014

Angels beat Athletics, Oakland protests game after obstruction call

The really weird play was the one where Gordon Beckham got a hit.

The Angels beat the Athletics 4-3 in 10 innings Thursday night on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Howie Kendrick, giving the Halos a two-game lead over Oakland in the American League West. But the A’s played the game under protest thanks to a controversial obstruction call in the ninth inning… Angels shortstop Erick Aybar led off the ninth inning of a 3-3 tie with a bouncer up the first base line, then collided with A’s pitcher Dan Otero.

Obstruction was called on Otero, per MLB Rule 7.06:

If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter/runner 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.

At issue was whether Aybar was impeded, and if he was even in the baseline… The A’s got out of what was ultimately a bases-loaded jam, but had to use two more pitchers and would argue the game might have played out differently had Aybar been ruled out in the ninth… Rule 4.19 says explicitly, “No protest shall ever be permitted on judgment decisions by the umpire.”

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 11:39 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, athletics, rules

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   1. Danny Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4781690)
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 obstruction was called on Moss. Moss was "in the act of fielding the ball" until Otero actually fielded the ball (which meant Moss "made an attempt to field the ball and missed). Moss is perfectly entitled to impede Aybar's progress to first base while he's in the act of fielding the ball, so Moss could not be obstructing Aybar until Otero fielded the ball.

By the time Otero fielded the ball, Aybar had already veered off into the infield. Aybar collided with Otero a split second after Otero fielded the ball; Brandon Moss's presence did not impede Aybar at that point because Aybar had no time to avoid running straight into Otero (and the tag). Since Moss did not impede Aybar's progress after Otero fielded the ball, Moss cannot be guilty of obstruction.
   2. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4781710)
Agree with #1. The umpire erred, but that said the protest is almost certainly not going to be upheld by MLB.

Was the play not reviewable to establish that contact was made only after Otero had the baseball? That seems to be the crux of the issue. If Otero/Moss make contact without possession of the ball, then the call is defensible. But the fact that Otero clearly had the ball in his possession and tagged the runner out when contact is the key point. Also, Moss was up the baseline from Otero, so Aybar connected with Otero before he could have made contact with Moss.
   3. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4781715)
If they really called it on Moss (and that didn't seem to be the case last night, plus official scoring has it as an E1 that allows Aybar on base) then the A's have little to stand on - it's a judgement call pure and simple as to whether he was in the act of fielding the ball once Aybar is there, especially since it didn't wind up in his hands. And as people can tell from reading the Omnichatter from yesterday, I'm an A's fan.
   4. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4781718)
I said last night that I thought it was dumb this type of play wasn't reviewable.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4781727)
Well, if you want to hear a fabulous rumor, on the Orioles game last night it was reported that the Commish is considering adding CHECKED SWINGS to the list of plays that will be reviewable. To deal with the added time, all games will now start 20 minutes earlier.
   6. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4781733)
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.........
   7. JAHV Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:49 PM (#4781752)
I'm an Angels fan, and I agree with #1's take on the course of events. Aybar should have been out. But I also agree that it's very unlikely a protest is upheld, since Moss's status regarding when he was or wasn't in the process of fielding a ball and when he was obstructing Aybar's path is in the umpire's judgment.

It was a completely heads up play by Aybar. Very quick thinking to force the umpire to make a tough call.
   8. DKDC Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4781767)
I can't tell if Aybar was seeking an obstruction call or trying to jar the ball loose, but either way, it did look like he sought out contact, which could have been called interference.

I do believe that obstruction also occurred, and that's the call the ump chose to make.

It doesn't really feel like the right/fairest call for the ump to make, but it's not technically wrong (and importantly, it's a "judgement call"), so I think the protest will be rejected.
   9. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4781775)
The umpire clearly points at Moss after making the call, so he is claiming Moss interfered.

If Aybar continued to run in the box, and collided with Moss a split second after Otero fielded the ball, I could understand an obstruction call. But Aybar attempted to run around the fielders, and in the process collided with Otero in an area that Otero clearly had a right to be, not only because he was fielding the ball but also he was not in the runner's path.
   10. Spahn Insane Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4781779)
Reposted from the omnichatter:

Wasn't watching the game at the time, but I just watched the replay, and since there's no thread devoted to the topic (yet), here I go--man, the ump screwed up that call six ways from Sunday. Others have touched on them all, I think, but to encapsulate them in a single post:

1. Aybar was two feet out of the baseline, and should have been called out on that basis, because...
2. Aybar not only did not try to avoid contact, he took a sharp left turn out of the baseline to deliberately create contact, which is clear because...
3. Both Moss and Otero were standing on the grass, outside the marked baseline, so (even if we buy the notion that the runner establishes the path to the base [no matter how far outside the marked basepath he might be]) Aybar's left turn was not required (and was in fact contraindicated) to avoid contact with either player (see 2), even if we assume the obstruction call was made against Moss and not against Otero (hell, Aybar deliberately made contact with the defensive player [Otero] who was FURTHEST out of the baseline--and who, for good measure, was also the one holding the ball, which means that...)...),
4. As AuntBea said, the ball had already been "fielded" by Otero when the collision occurred, so the obstruction rule should not have applied anyway, even ignoring 1, 2 and 3, which means that...
5. even if Aybar wasn't called out for running out of the baseline as he should've been (see 1), he should've been called out for running into the fielder holding the ball (as a simple, boring, run-of-the-mill tag play).

Unbelievably bad call--probably as bad as any I've seen, simply because there are so many different WAYS it was the wrong call. I suppose the protest boils down to whether or not the league buys the "adversely affects" argument, but there should be no question that the protest is right on the merits of whether the rule was correctly applied. It was not, and the A's are deservedly pissed.
   11. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4781792)
This is shockingly bad umpiring, and it's having a material effect on a pennant race.

I think it's time we have another cleansing of the umpire ranks.
   12. Willie Mayspedester Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4781796)
A's fan here. I think he should have been out since Otero got the ball before any contact and tagged him end of story. That being said they got out of the inning and lost fair and square so I think replaying the end of the game isn't necessary from a "fair" point of view. At the time I was watching on TV my reaction was they better not lose because Aybar scores.
   13. Danny Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4781797)
After the game, the crew chief said that it was a "judgment call" (the magic get-out-of-jail-free words) and that he wouldn't discuss it further because of the protest. It seems likely that umpires would never admit they misapplied the rules, as an upheld protest looks much worse than a simple blown call. So the only real evidence of whether they misapplied the rule is what the umpires said to Melvin when he came out to argue. Is Melvin's statement regarding what the umpires told him admissible? Or only the official statements by the ump during the league's review?
   14. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4781798)
This is shockingly bad umpiring, and it's having a material effect on a pennant race.


Lots of random things happen over 162 games. So it goes.

(A's fan, obviously, this won't get overturned, nor should it, it was a bad call, but bad calls happen and you keep playing baseball. We should keep playing baseball.)
   15. dave h Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4781799)
#1 gets this right in every detail. The only question, in regards to the protest, is why the umpire got it wrong, and whether it was misapplication of the rules or a judgement call. The only thing I can think he was saying is that Aybar changed path to avoid Moss who was in the baseline not fielding the ball. That's clearly wrong (Moss was making a play on the ball when Aybar changed path) but it's a judgement call. The A's would have to claim that the umpire thought Moss could not be considered to be making a play because he's not the one who caught it, which would be a misapplication of the rules.
   16. dave h Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4781805)
"[The umpires said] he has to have a clear lane to the base," Melvin said.


From the MLB.com article. If that's the case, it's a misapplication of the rules. Even if MLB had the stones to admit it, doubt they would replay the game from there just based on the idea that they used an extra couple relievers.
   17. Bob T Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4781813)
The only time I remember an umpire openly admitting that he messed up a rule interpretation was Frank Pulli in this Dodgers-Expos game in 1989.
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1989/B08220MON1989.htm

In the second, Tim Wallach drew a one-out walk against Fernando Valenzuela. Valenzuela balked him to second. With Mike Fitzgerald batting, Valenzuela balked, but still delivered the pitch which Fitzgerald flied out to left. Wallach kept running on the play, knowing that if for some reason left fielder Mickey Hatcher dropped the ball, he could score and at worse, he would get third. Hatcher caught the ball and threw it back in. Wallach was halfway home and the Dodgers tagged him out. The umpires called Wallach out.

On-field delay.

In the end, Wallach was declared out and Fitzgerald batted again and grounded out 6-3.

After the game, Pulli admitted that he messed up. The only way Wallach could have been called out was if the Expos opted to decline the balk and accept the result of the batted ball.

The Expos won the game and the protest that would have been upheld became moot.
   18. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:46 PM (#4781822)
2. Aybar not only did not try to avoid contact, he took a sharp left turn out of the baseline to deliberately create contact, which is clear because...


The baserunner has no obligation to avoid contact with a fielder who has made a play. If he collided with Otero before Otero had a chance to field the ball then it is interference on Aybar but once Otero fields the ball Aybar can run into him. It's stupid because your point #5 (run of the mill tag play) should apply.

Generally I think everyone (including the umps) overcomplicated this. I think Aybar was fine running where he was (runner establishes baseline) he is allowed to run into Otero (fielder had opportunity to field the ball) and in the end that point #5 is the key one; he got tagged, he's out. What he SHOULD have done is run into Moss, then he would have been safe on obstruction.
   19. Willie Mayspedester Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4781833)
Get this #### out of the way before the playoffs, if this happened in a wild card game I would be way more pissed off.
   20. dave h Posted: August 29, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4781841)
The batshit crazy thing is that even if the umpire is right that Moss obstructed Aybar, he should still probably be called out, since he would not have reached based safely absent the obstruction. Otero still tags him easily if Moss is out of the way and Aybar runs straight down the baseline. Again, the protest hinges on whether the umpire decided he would have been safe (bad judgement call) or neglected to consider whether the tag would have still been applied (misapplication of the rules).
   21. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 29, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4781844)
The batshit crazy thing is that even if the umpire is right that Moss obstructed Aybar, he should still probably be called out, since he would not have reached based safely absent the obstruction. Otero still tags him easily if Moss is out of the way and Aybar runs straight down the baseline.


I don't think this is true. If he had run straight through the spot where Moss was I think he would have been passed Otero by the time Otero had a chance to put a tag on him. If anything it would have been close enough that I think the benefit of the doubt would go to the runner in that situation.
   22. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 29, 2014 at 02:11 PM (#4781846)
1. Aybar was two feet out of the baseline, and should have been called out on that basis,

No. He wasn't leaving the basepath to avoid a tag, so he shouldn't be out. And the rule specifically mentions avoiding a fielder attempting to field a ball:


7.08
Any runner is out when --
(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.


2. Aybar not only did not try to avoid contact, he took a sharp left turn out of the baseline to deliberately create contact,

That is not my interpretation of it. He saw Otero's momentum carrying him towards foul ground, and attempted to avoid him. He guessed wrong, and initiated the contact, but it wasn't deliberate.

3. Both Moss and Otero were standing on the grass, outside the marked baseline, so (even if we buy the notion that the runner establishes the path to the base [no matter how far outside the marked basepath he might be]) Aybar's left turn was not required

Are we watching the same replays? Otero was charging towards the dugout, Moss was charging in. There was no "standing on the grass" going on, until they collided a split second before Aybar collided with Otero. The left turn was wrong, but I don't think you are expressing it accurately.

The only way it was wrong in that they called obstruction that didn't happen. But it was a bang bang play and the umpires are forced to call it in real time, not after viewing slow motion replays from three angles.




   23. dave h Posted: August 29, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4781868)
Jose, he takes two steps after Otero catches the ball, it doesn't seem likely that the hesitation/deviation cost him that much time. Also, Otero can still make a throw to first if he misses him (the second baseman is a little late getting there, but should still have a play). And even this assumes that all of the hesitation/deviation is due to obstruction, but in fact it's only after Moss is no longer making the play that he's obstructing.

There's just no way that he gets first there. This is the sort of call that a intramural umpire who just has a vague idea of what obstruction is would make.

It's also an example of why a manager coming out of the dugout should always start with "what did you see, what are you calling?" instead of just arguing. Mainly you're trying to figure out if the umpire made a mistake that the other umpires (and now replay) can help with, but in the long shot scenario you're also establishing whether he gets a rule wrong.
   24. Spahn Insane Posted: August 29, 2014 at 02:39 PM (#4781885)
Are we watching the same replays? Otero was charging towards the dugout, Moss was charging in. There was no "standing on the grass" going on, until they collided a split second before Aybar collided with Otero.

Yes. That's what I'm talking about. (So they were only "standing" for a split second. Still. That's the position they were in when the collision occurred.) Even if Aybar *anticipated* that Moss would end up in the basepath, Moss didn't *actually* end up in the basepath, which is what should have governed. (Actually, as others have noted, it should've been a simple tag play, end of story...)

The left turn was wrong, but I don't think you are expressing it accurately.

I may not be expressing Aybar's intentions (which we have no way of knowing for certain) accurately, but my statement that both fielders were on the grass is correct.
   25. JAHV Posted: August 29, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4781920)
I don't think there's a misapplication of the rules. The umpire's judgment was that Moss was obstructing Aybar after he lost "in the process of fielding the ball" status, i.e. once Otero had the ball. In my opinion, Moss is no longer in Aybar's path at that point, since Aybar had moved so far inside the baseline. The only one in Aybar's path was Otero, who was allowed to be there with the ball.

So it's a bad call, but I don't think it's one where a protest will be upheld for misapplication of the rules.
   26. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 29, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4781931)
Jose, he takes two steps after Otero catches the ball, it doesn't seem likely that the hesitation/deviation cost him that much time. Also, Otero can still make a throw to first if he misses him (the second baseman is a little late getting there, but should still have a play). And even this assumes that all of the hesitation/deviation is due to obstruction, but in fact it's only after Moss is no longer making the play that he's obstructing.


You're right, it wasn't as bang bang as I thought.

I think IF you assume obstruction you still award him first base. Compare it to a rundown situation, when a player runs into a fielder as a practical matter he would be out either way but the ruling is always in favor of the runner. Effectively the team acting in violation of the rules at that point is punished which makes sense.

And as noted that's assuming obstruction which I agree is a wrong call here.
   27. dave h Posted: August 29, 2014 at 03:58 PM (#4781954)
I think you give the runner all benefit of the doubt. In case of a rundown, the fielder would still be in a rundown were it not for obstruction (presumably) and since that's a high percentage but not certain play, the runner may be safe, so he gets the base. In this case it's a force play, and the runner has no choice but to go to first. There have certainly been times where obstruction is called but the runner is still called out, and this would be a good example (if it weren't for the fact that it's just not obstruction in the first place).
   28. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: August 29, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4781955)
Seen a few reports that the A's are dropping the protest. Since it's a "judgement call" they know it's not worth pursuing. Calcaterra on HBT had it and some others.
   29. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 29, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4781974)
MLB.com has it.
Kick-started by an obstruction call and ended by a Mike Trout fielder's choice, the ninth inning during the Angels' 4-3, 10-inning win over Oakland had everything but a winner. The A's played the rest of the game under protest, but announced on Friday they had dropped the protest.
   30. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 29, 2014 at 09:18 PM (#4782125)
I think it's time we have another cleansing of the umpire ranks.


That's a damned good idea.

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