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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Umpires point to rulebook in explaining World Series game-ending obstruction call | MLB.com: News

Middlebrooks obviously should have teleported himself.

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.

[Emphasis added.]

Jim Furtado Posted: October 27, 2013 at 07:16 AM | 81 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, red sox, world series

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   1. Buzzards Bay Posted: October 27, 2013 at 07:53 AM (#4585238)
The Obstruction call is moot because after Craig slides in to 3rd base his first move is a step towards 2nd base and with that move he must then retag 3rd base before advancing to Home.He should have been ruled Out for his improper advancement.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:01 AM (#4585240)
Seriously delusional Red Sox fan in post 1.
   3. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:08 AM (#4585244)
I thought this series couldn't possibly turn into a bigger joke than it already was. I was wrong.
   4. Sunday silence Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:10 AM (#4585245)
Fuqua touched the ball! Fuqua touched the ball!
   5. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:13 AM (#4585247)
Middlebrooks obviously should have teleported himself.


No, Middlebrooks obviously should have caught the ball. If he does, it's not obstruction any more.
When he doesn't, his bellyflop attempt now obstructs the runner and it becomes callable when he starts to flop around like a fish out of water.
   6. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:18 AM (#4585249)
...and it becomes callable when he starts to flop around like a fish out of water.


So if he stays perfectly still and Craig trips over him, it's not obstruction?
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:21 AM (#4585252)
So if he stays perfectly still and Craig trips over him, it's not obstruction?


It's still obstruction as the way the rule is written. The teleport line is pretty accurate on what Middlebrooks had to do. It's not his fault once he missed catching the ball, the obstruction was a foregone conclusion at that point.
   8. Rafael Bellylard: Built like a Panda. Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:33 AM (#4585258)
All kidding aside, honest question.

Had Middlebrooks done everything the same, but caught the throw, and Craig tripped over him going towards home, would it be obstruction?

If so, the rule needs rewriting. I admit I think it does anyway.

That said, under the current writing of the rule, the call was correct.
   9. Sunday silence Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:33 AM (#4585259)
Some people act like the rule was written for Middlebrooks benefit. Like he misses the catch in the first place, and somehow the obstruction rule is meant to excuse Middlebrooks lying there in front of the baserunner and if Craig trips on a prone fielder that's Craig's fault.

"Hey you have jump over prone fielders dont you know that?"

Of course, that's not the rule. So the final part of the rule actually goes out of it's way to say that a fielder who has missed the ball is more than likely obstructing. I.e. just because you tried and failed to make the catch does not give you an excuse to be in the way.

Naturally, Ray reads the quite likely part of that sentence to mean that Middlebrooks couldnt possibly be obstructing. So the rule should have said "in every single case, 100% of the time, this play is automatically obsttruction..."
   10. Sunday silence Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:35 AM (#4585260)
The really interesting hypothetical is: "What if Craig had hurdled MIddlebrooks, apparently lost no forward speed in doing so, and was out at the plate?"
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:40 AM (#4585264)
Had Middlebrooks done everything the same, but caught the throw, and Craig tripped over him going towards home, would it be obstruction?


In that hypothetical it would have been stupid for Craig to go home, run over a guy who had possession of the ball to run 90 feet on a gimpy ankle, but if he did, it wouldn't have been obstruction as shown with catchers, possession of the ball gives the fielders certain rights.
   12. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:41 AM (#4585266)
Could have used that obstruction call a few years ago, Blue.
   13. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: October 27, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4585295)
Had Middlebrooks done everything the same, but caught the throw, and Craig tripped over him going towards home, would it be obstruction?

If the third baseman has the ball, why in hell would the runner round third base for home? He'll likely be thrown out at the plate by, oh, 40 feet or so.
   14. Dale Sams Posted: October 27, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4585305)
If the third baseman has the ball, why in hell would the runner round third base for home


Same reason any runner who thinks the ball has gone into the OF does. Craig was actually hit by the ball, had that rolled in front of Will, Craig may still have thought it went by him.
   15. Swedish Chef Posted: October 27, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4585307)
Middlebrooks obviously should have teleported himself.

It's not base running, it's base hurdles.
   16. Dale Sams Posted: October 27, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4585309)
it wouldn't have been obstruction as shown with catchers, possession of the ball gives the fielders certain rights.


Well....catchers have special umpire fairy rights anyway, rather they have the ball yet or not. Same apparently with 2B and 3B it seems these days. (The guys who put their foot in front of the base). Going by the Crisp/Shields kerfuffle a few years ago, I thought that was a big no-no. But I see more and more players doing it these days.
   17. rpackrat Posted: October 27, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4585318)
Well....catchers have special umpire fairy rights anyway


Fairy rights have nothing to do with it. The rule is very clear that a fielder in possession of the ball can impede the runner. So, no, if Middlebrooks catches the ball, it is not obstruction.
   18. Dag is a salt water fish in fresh water world Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4585328)
Same reason any runner who thinks the ball has gone into the OF does. Craig was actually hit by the ball, had that rolled in front of Will, Craig may still have thought it went by him.

OK, but going back to the original hypothetical - it seems to be completely covered in the top half of the rule quoted:

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.

If the guy has the ball, he's fielding the ball. He has a right to be there. As the next sentence says:

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.

If he has the ball, he's fielding the ball. If he doesn't have it, he's no longer in the act of fielding the ball.

So there is no way its obstruction if he comes down with the ball.
   19. JRVJ Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4585340)
I was literally flossing at the very minute when the play happened, and only really got to see it in detail today.

IMO, the fact that the home plate umpire ALSO immediately pointed to the obstruction right after it happened makes it a non-issue for me. HOWEVER, the fact that he didn't stop play (waving his arms and such), did add to the confusion (though we are obviously talking about fractions of a second, so who am I to blow against the wind).
   20. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4585345)
Had Middlebrooks done everything the same, but caught the throw, and Craig tripped over him going towards home, would it be obstruction?


No. The thing to remember is that the base runner does not get awarded the free base in that situation. What happens is the umpires make a judgment call that the obstruction changed the outcome. In the case of last night where Craig was only out by a step or two clearly the obstruction impacted the play so ruling is correct. In your example Craig would be out by 50 feet when Middlebrooks just stands up and throws home so no obstruction.

The perfect example, mentioned by Torre last night, was Tejada in Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS. He was obstructed by Bill Mueller but then just stopped halfway between third and home. Varitek ran over and tagged him. Because Tejada just flat out stopped the umps couldn't assume he would have beaten the throw and he was ruled out even though obstruction occurred on the play.

Once Middlebrooks missed the ball he was kind of ######. As a practical matter I think if he doesn't kick his feet up in the air the umps would have been in a much tougher position. By flopping around he made the obstruction very obvious. I think if WMB lays prone on the ground, well first Craig probably just steps over him, but second even if he trips over WMB or stumbles a bit the umps might have "swallowed the whistle" so to speak even though it technically shouldn't have mattered. That's just supposition on my part.
   21. Shredder Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:52 AM (#4585346)
HOWEVER, the fact that he didn't stop play (waving his arms and such), did add to the confusion (though we are obviously talking about fractions of a second, so who am I to blow against the wind).
He can't stop play there, though. The play isn't over. If Craig gets up and decides not to try to score, he doesn't get the plate, or presumably if an ump decides he would have been out by 50 feet anyway, it's within the ump's discretion to call him out. From what I'm reading, you have to see how it all plays out, then determine the consequences of the obstruction. It's not like throwing the ball out of play where you just automatically get the next base.
   22. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4585348)
JRVJ - see my above for the reasons the umps should NOT have stopped the play.
   23. Bug Selig Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4585349)
HOWEVER, the fact that he didn't stop play (waving his arms and such), did add to the confusion


Obstruction is a delayed dead ball, meaning you don't kill the play. It's kind of a silly distinction in a situation where the awarded base ends the game, but you don't want to create an immediate dead ball that ends up helping the defense (trail runners, etc.)
   24. JRVJ Posted: October 27, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4585360)
21/22/23, actually, I didn't say that the home plate umpire SHOULD HAVE stopped play. I am saying that by virtue of the play continuing, it added to the confusion.
   25. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: October 27, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4585369)
When he doesn't, his bellyflop attempt now obstructs the runner and it becomes callable when he starts to flop around like a fish out of water.


If you watch the play in real time, it's pretty clear WMB's trying to get up on his knees to stand up. Just like it's not Craig's fault for tripping on him because he immediately got up, started towards home from where he had stood up, and was looking to see where the ball went behind him when he tripped over over Middlebrooks. Can't fault either player at that point, it's just churlish. Virtually all the blame belongs to Saltalamacchia and a smidge belongs Middlebrooks for not keeping the ball in front of him.

And the rule was called correctly and makes sense. If the throw had been off to the other side of the bag by the same amount and Middlebrooks had missed it Craig gets home before the throw and would have scored. It's rough on the Red Sox, and it sucks, and I hate the way that game ended, but it's the rules.
   26. DavidFoss Posted: October 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4585393)
Virtually all the blame belongs to Saltalamacchia and a smidge belongs Middlebrooks for not keeping the ball in front of him.


Interestingly, it was actually ruled E-5, not E-2. I guess few people are debating this part of the call.
   27. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: October 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4585408)
Middlebrooks obviously should have teleported himself.
*It doesn't matter* that Middlebrooks couldn't do anything. It's not a penalty against Middlebrooks, it's an attempt to remove the obstruction from the outcome.

If he could have done something, and he had done it, then Craig doesn't trip *and is safe at home plate by a lot*. THAT'S the point of the rule, THAT'S the point of the call. Middlebrooks ended up in Craig's way, and because of that, Craig was barely out. Take away the unintentional obstruction, and Craig is safe. So you take it away.

This isn't pass interference, where you give the guy the spot of the foul even though the ball, while "catchable" was never going to get caught. You simply remove the obstruction, and use your judgement to determine that Craig would have been safe at home.
   28. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 27, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4585423)
So, in high school baseball practice, we were always taught that if we were on the bases and stuck in a run-down, we should try to make contact with a fielder (who forgets to fully leave the base path)--and if he touches you, it is Obstruction, so you get to advance to the next base.

Reading the rule though....Was that advice wrong? It sounds like after we make contact, the ball is still live, and the umpire still has to use his judgment, right? So if I still get tagged 40 feet from home, they'd still call me out?
   29. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: October 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4585429)
So, in high school baseball practice, we were always taught that if we were on the bases and stuck in a run-down, we should try to make contact with a fielder (who forgets to fully leave the base path)--and if he touches you, it is Obstruction, so you get to advance to the next base.

Reading the rule though....Was that advice wrong? It sounds like after we make contact, the ball is still live, and the umpire still has to use his judgment, right? So if I still get tagged 40 feet from home, they'd still call me out?


Yes.
   30. puck Posted: October 27, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4585441)
Could have used that obstruction call a few years ago, Blue.

Is this a reference to the Miguel Tejada play? It's along the lines of Davo/Larry's discussion just above. Torre even mentioned the Tejada play in the post-game interview with the umps:

JOHN HIRSCHBECK: And that's the last, most important part of this rule, is that the umpire has to determine ?? if what you saw tonight happened and he's out by 20 feet, then the umpire determines that if the obstruction had not occurred, he would have been out, okay? But since it was right there, bang, bang play, obviously that's obstruction, definitely had something to do with the play.

Q. That's Dana's call right away?

DANA DeMUTH: I'm going with Jim on it, so I determine when it ends at the end, about the obstruction, you know. It's Jim's call originally, but looking up there. I have to see the call, also, and agree with him. I have to know that it's obstruction.

JOE TORRE: You remember a few years ago I think Tejada ran into a fielder and then stopped running, and even though he was pointing back, he's obstructed, but he stopped running, so he was out.
   31. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 27, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4585456)
JOE TORRE: You remember a few years ago I think Tejada ran into a fielder and then stopped running, and even though he was pointing back, he's obstructed, but he stopped running, so he was out.


And the umpire who made that call said that if Tejada had kept running, he would have been ruled safe due to the interference. Which is exactly what happened last night.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: October 27, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4585467)
And the umpire who made that call said that if Tejada had kept running, he would have been ruled safe due to the interference. Which is exactly what happened last night.


Obstruction dammit. And it's likely he would have been ruled safe due to the obstruction if he kept running. Failing to run didn't invalidate the obstruction. The fact that he was out by a lot is what made the obstruction no longer relevant to the determination of out/safe. If he'd kept running and been thrown out by a whisker, like last night's play, then he would have been ruled safe.



   33. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: October 27, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4585470)
It was the right call. That's all there really is to say. I ####### LOATHE the Cardinals but they didn't steal one from the Red Sox here. The rulebook is clear and it was the right call. The umps got it correct, and to their credit they got it correct immediately. The only controversy here is among people who don't understand the rulebook.

Arrrrggh. Freakin' St. Louis, man.
   34. Karl from NY Posted: October 27, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4585594)
When Middlebrooks dove for the ball, he committed himself to obstructing the runner if he missed the catch. The answer to "what should he have done" is not dive into space that the runner has the right to occupy. Right call.

(And I'm rooting for the Sox here. As I think Mets fans should be, just to annoy Yankee fans.)
   35. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: October 27, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4585601)
To further 33's thought, it was Jim Joyce who made the correct call instantly and without hesitation. I think we should recognize when an ump makes a game changing call with this much on the line and its the right one. Lord knows he got the recognition when he blew the call in Gallaraga's perfect game.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: October 27, 2013 at 03:06 PM (#4585620)

"I ####### LOATHE the Cardinals but they didn't steal one from the Red Sox here. The rulebook is clear and it was the right call."

I would love to think that the legion who agree 100 pct would make the few holdouts take pause, but I realize I'd just be kidding myself.

   37. Bug Selig Posted: October 27, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4585624)
I think it's funny that the headline writer finds it notable that the umpires' ruling would have its basis in the rulebook. Um, yeah. The alternatives would have been great - "Umpires point to Da Vinci Code and horoscopes..."
   38. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 27, 2013 at 03:40 PM (#4585648)
I would love to think that the legion who agree 100 pct would make the few holdouts take pause, but I realize I'd just be kidding myself.


This is the line of thinking that makes John Mayer a platinum selling recording entity.
   39. Guapo Posted: October 27, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4585649)
Your approach to critical thinking is a wonderland.
   40. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: October 27, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4585654)
Reading the rule though....Was that advice wrong? It sounds like after we make contact, the ball is still live, and the umpire still has to use his judgment, right? So if I still get tagged 40 feet from home, they'd still call me out?

What you were taught was correct:

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. 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.
   41. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: October 27, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4585655)
Your approach to critical thinking is a wonderland.


Everything about me is a wonder land, son. You should feel honored to be allowed even limited access. You should try to use the experience to grow and better yourself as a human being.
   42. villageidiom Posted: October 27, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4585666)
Everything about me is a wonder land, son. You should feel honored to be allowed even limited access. You should try to use the experience to grow and better yourself as a human being.
Or we can keep on waiting on the world to change.
   43. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: October 27, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4585668)
I just like that it seems like Ray and Sam are on the same page. The unstoppable force and the immovable object combine!
   44. DFA Posted: October 27, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4585760)
And the umpire who made that call said that if Tejada had kept running, he would have been ruled safe due to the interference. Which is exactly what happened last night.


I guess the Cardinals do play the game the right way after all. I hope Oakland learns a lesson here!

Kidding aside, I think what I was impressed with was Joyce making the call instantly...it's the call he was trained to make, regardless of context. It was the right call, though I might see it differently if I were a Sox fan.
   45. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 27, 2013 at 06:50 PM (#4585778)
40-- ah, thanks. Different rules in place if the fielder who obstructs is making a play on the runner--interesting.
   46. Perry Posted: October 27, 2013 at 07:27 PM (#4585813)
Yes, #40 beat me to it. If a runner is obstructed WHILE BEING PLAYED ON (as in a rundown), it's not a delayed dead ball, it's an immediate dead ball and the runner MUST be awarded at least the next base. If he's not being played on, then you wait until the play is over and award bases that nullify the obstruction.

That said, contact does not automatically equal obstruction. So there is still umpire discretion involved.
   47. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: October 27, 2013 at 07:43 PM (#4585832)
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. 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.


That's obstruction on the batter when the batter puts the ball in play and becomes a runner.
   48. The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4585859)
So the 3B ump called the obstruction, but then it was up t the HP ump to decide if he would have scored w/o it? Or was it up to the 3B ump to judge if he'd have scored?
   49. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: October 27, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4585908)
And it's likely he would have been ruled safe due to the obstruction if he kept running. Failing to run didn't invalidate the obstruction. The fact that he was out by a lot is what made the obstruction no longer relevant to the determination of out/safe. If he'd kept running and been thrown out by a whisker, like last night's play, then he would have been ruled safe.



Doesn't it all depend on the severity of the obstruction? Say for example, a runner is on second and a ball is hit into the gap, an obvious extra base hit. As he is rounding third, he plows into the thirdbaseman and gets knocked onto his ass. He is dazed for a few seconds, and then continues running home, and is out by 40 feet. Surely that would also qualify as obstruction.
   50. lonestarball Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:01 PM (#4586147)
So, in high school baseball practice, we were always taught that if we were on the bases and stuck in a run-down, we should try to make contact with a fielder (who forgets to fully leave the base path)--and if he touches you, it is Obstruction, so you get to advance to the next base.


Elvis Andrus actively tries to do this in rundowns, and has been awarded a base instead of getting out at least a couple of times that I can recall.
   51. Walt Davis Posted: October 27, 2013 at 10:08 PM (#4586172)
Yes, the issue with Tejada is that he stopped making an effort to advance, not (necessarily) that he was out by a mile.

The confusion of that play is that just the half-inning before, Oakland had a runner caught in a run-down, obstructed that runner (with no real effect on the play) and the runner was awarded the base. Tejada clearly didn't have an intimate understanding of the rule and didn't realize the difference.

Still, the Tejada case was a much better basis for demanding a rule clarification of some sort. Tejada stopped running because, after the obstruction, he was going to be thrown out by a mile. You're asking a player to overcome their instincts and intentionally run into an out, hoping the ump gets the obstruction call correct.

And if there were to be a rule change, the obvious change to make would be to remove the uncertainty around whether the obstruction would have mattered just like the uncertainty around intent has been removed -- if you obstruct a runner, the runner gets at least one free base. Umpire discretion then would be limited to whether other runners should advance ... and maybe you'd take that discretion away too.

And Jim ... really? You're clinging to an infielder "continues to lie on the ground", the baserunner falls over him ... and this is not very likely obstruction?

Seriously, what play could possibly be a better example of why that clause in the book? If "continues to lie on the ground and causes the baserunner to fall to the ground" doesn't count as obstruction then what obstruction could possibly occur in that scenario?

But fine, they should re-word that clause as follows:

If an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and the runner falls over him, this is possibly the most obvious case of unintentional obstruction we can imagine and should be ruled obstruction 110% of the time; if the prone infielder simply delays the runner but doesn't actually cause him to fall to the ground, it is still very likely that obstruction has occurred.

As a Cub fan I am however in full support of the sub-clause "unless the call benefits the Cardinals in which case it should be reversed."

   52. SteveF Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:26 AM (#4586763)
Still, the Tejada case was a much better basis for demanding a rule clarification of some sort. Tejada stopped running because, after the obstruction, he was going to be thrown out by a mile. You're asking a player to overcome their instincts and intentionally run into an out, hoping the ump gets the obstruction call correct.

Well, it's easier for the umpire to make the judgment about whether the player would have advanced safely to the next base in the absence of the obstruction when he sees by how much or how little the runner was out.

That's not me disagreeing with your excellent point about the runner's instincts. I'm just pointing out one good reason for requiring the runner to keep running.
   53. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:33 AM (#4586765)
Still, the Tejada case was a much better basis for demanding a rule clarification of some sort. Tejada stopped running because, after the obstruction, he was going to be thrown out by a mile. You're asking a player to overcome their instincts and intentionally run into an out, hoping the ump gets the obstruction call correct.


The player's instinct should be to try and continue to score, or to retreat so as not to make an out. Tejada's instinct was to give up so as to sell the obstruction call more definitively. The real question is what would have happened if Tejada or Craig had retreated to third base after the obstruction - would they have awarded the run? You definitely identify a problem with the "just keep playing and we'll decide later" approach.
   54. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:36 AM (#4586766)
Does anyone have video of that Miguel Tejada interference play from the 2003 ALDS? I feel like I've seen it mentioned about 100 times in the past 24 hours, but still haven't actually SEEN it yet!
   55. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:56 AM (#4586771)
Also, any thoughts on this play? (Venable on second, pitcher attempts to pick him off, but throws the ball into center field. Venable and the shortstop Izturis collide, and Venable trips over Izturis's body while trying to make it to third. Umpires call Izturis for Obstruction and award Venable third.)

If I'm understanding the rule correctly, it looks to me like the umpires screwed up here, by confusing the two types of obstruction on this: This should be a live ball, with Venable advancing to third on his own risk--like the Tejada play you're referencing above (if he gets thrown out by 30 feet, he's still called out--the umpires are re-creating what would have happened on the play had no obstruction occurred).

Am I understanding this correctly--did the umps in the video link above screw up, or is that the right call too?
   56. Good cripple hitter Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:04 AM (#4586774)

Does anyone have video of that Miguel Tejada interference play from the 2003 ALDS? I feel like I've seen it mentioned about 100 times in the past 24 hours, but still haven't actually SEEN it yet!



I could only find it by not using google, but here you go

It's an awful video, it's basically someone pointing a camera at their tv while ESPN shows the clip. But it's better than nothing.
   57. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:06 AM (#4586775)
#55 - It seems like the umpires have leeway to either make an immediate call, or to wait and see what happens.
   58. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:08 AM (#4586776)
Oh, I take that back. The final replay shows that Venable would have been insane to try and advance to third. That's definitely a different sort of call, and IMO it seems like a bad one.
   59. The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:13 AM (#4586778)
Someone said that in a rundown situation, the runner gets awarded the base immediately, but not in a case like Tejada's or Craig's. The Venable cast that Davo posted doesn't seem to be a rundown, but he wasn't trying to advance, just get back to the base, so maybe that's relevant?
   60. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:21 AM (#4586780)
56--Thank you very much for that.
   61. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:23 AM (#4586781)
Would anyone be surprised if the umpires just understand this rule differently? That some of them are wrong? The best explanation for the Venable case is that the umpire messed up. Venable was leaping up and probably would have made a few steps towards third, as you are supposed to do, and he was obstructed in that act. He didn't deserve a base. In this case the defense was actually penalized - in Game 3 the umpires were (supposedly) reconstructing what would have happened without the interference.
   62. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 28, 2013 at 08:16 AM (#4586802)
Looks to me like Venable was clearly heading towards third (not just making "a few steps"), got obstructed, and that the call was not only correct, it was a no-brainer. The defense got "penalized" for throwing the ball away and then obstructing the base runner. What's so hard to understand about that?

The baserunner has the right to run the bases unobstructed, and if he's obstructed he gets awarded the base he would've made without the obstruction. End of discussion. The way to avoid the penalty is to not obstruct the baserunner. You don't need a bunch of deconstructionists to figure it out 99% of the time, and certainly not in this case or in the game 3 case.
   63. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 28, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4586847)
#62--I guess the issue is, on the Venable obstruction play, the umpires called a dead ball and let him automatically advance to the next base. But on the Allen Craig obstruction play, it was still a live ball, and he still had to run to the next base....I'm not seeing why those two plays are different.

(Agreed that the end result wouldn't matter either way in Game 3--Craig still scores the winning run. Just wondering why he wasn't automatically awarded the next base, as Venable was in #55.)
   64. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: October 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4586931)
I could only find it by not using google, but here you go

I think that clip was posted and narrated by Rain Man.
   65. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4586963)
The baserunner has the right to run the bases unobstructed, and if he's obstructed he gets awarded the base he would've made without the obstruction. End of discussion. The way to avoid the penalty is to not obstruct the baserunner. You don't need a bunch of deconstructionists to figure it out 99% of the time, and certainly not in this case or in the game 3 case.


If that were the rule, that would be fine, but the explanation everyone has for Game 3 is that the umpires allow the game to play on a little while before making a decision about the severity of the obstruction.
   66. SoSH U at work Posted: October 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4586973)
If that were the rule, that would be fine, but the explanation everyone has for Game 3 is that the umpires allow the game to play on a little while before making a decision about the severity of the obstruction.


And I think that's sensible. Obstruction comes in degrees. If there's mild contact on a play that would not have resulted in an extra base, you shouldn't automatically get the next base.
   67. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4586977)
I also think it's sensible, but if you watch the two plays, it looks to me like Venable should have been the "play on" case while Craig should have been awarded his base immediately. I don't think there was any chance that Venable would have actually tried to advance to third, and the obstruction made it totally impossible. Venable's potential advance went from insane to impossible. Craig's went from sure thing to narrow out.

Also, Andy was wrong. It's not "end of discussion" after any obstruction, the umpire needs to make a judgment call.
   68. SoSH U at work Posted: October 28, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4586980)
I also think it's sensible, but if you watch the two plays, it looks to me like Venable should have been the "play on" case while Craig should have been awarded his base immediately.


It looks like he just got the Venable call wrong.

The only possible explanation, and I don't know if the rulebook allows for it but it probably should, is if the umpire determines that obstruction was intentional. I can see why you'd want to punish intentional obstruction more severely than the more typical inadvertent type.

   69. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4586987)
Ok. So we're on the same page. The umpire and Andy are both wrong. Case closed!
   70. Danny Posted: October 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4587031)
And the umpire who made that call said that if Tejada had kept running, he would have been ruled safe due to the interference. Which is exactly what happened last night.

Obstruction dammit. And it's likely he would have been ruled safe due to the obstruction if he kept running. Failing to run didn't invalidate the obstruction. The fact that he was out by a lot is what made the obstruction no longer relevant to the determination of out/safe. If he'd kept running and been thrown out by a whisker, like last night's play, then he would have been ruled safe.


Tejada's failure to run was what made him "out by a lot," and I don't see where in the rules that "made the obstruction no longer relevant."

The rule says that the umpire should "impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction." The question the umpire should be asking himself is "would Tejada have scored if he hadn't been obstructed?" Seeing how close an obstructed Tejada gets to being safe is helpful for that determination, but there's nothing in the rule that says he can only be awarded the next base if he continues running for it after being obstructed. Nullifying the obstruction means determining what likely would have happened absent obstruction, and it would be crazy to assume that Tejada would have stopped running and started complaining had there been no obstruction.

If Tejada had broken his leg and laid prone on the ground until being tagged (which would mean he was "out by a lot"), would that have "made the obstruction no longer relevant to the determination of out/safe?"

What if he had returned to third base after being obstructed on his way home?
   71. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4587060)
I also think it's sensible, but if you watch the two plays, it looks to me like Venable should have been the "play on" case while Craig should have been awarded his base immediately. I don't think there was any chance that Venable would have actually tried to advance to third, and the obstruction made it totally impossible. Venable's potential advance went from insane to impossible. Craig's went from sure thing to narrow out.

Also, Andy was wrong. It's not "end of discussion" after any obstruction, the umpire needs to make a judgment call.


Okay, I just went back and waited out another car commercial and Dusty Baker's jawboning act, and saw the second replay, which unlike the first one was from home plate looking outward towards centerfield.

Bottom line: After seeing how easily the centerfielder retrieved the ball, it's likely that Venable's initial move towards third was little more than an instinctive first reaction, and that he wouldn't have chosen to run once he saw the centerfielder back up the throw so quickly.** You couldn't see that with the initial shot of the play, which didn't show the centerfielder or the path of the ball. So you're right, the umpire made a bad judgment call on that one.

**Without the entanglement it might have been a marginally harder decision, but Venable still would've had to get up from the base and reverse his direction, a highly unlikely sequence of events once he saw the centerfielder come up with the ball.
   72. SoSH U at work Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4587061)
Tejada's failure to run was what made him "out by a lot," and I don't see where in the rules that "made the obstruction no longer relevant."

The rule says that the umpire should "impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction." The question the umpire should be asking himself is "would Tejada have scored if he hadn't been obstructed?" Seeing how close an obstructed Tejada gets to being safe is helpful for that determination, but there's nothing in the rule that says he can only be awarded the next base if he continues running for it after being obstructed. Nullifying the obstruction means determining what likely would have happened absent obstruction, and it would be crazy to assume that Tejada would have stopped running and started complaining had there been no obstruction.



You can construct the obstruction rule a number of different ways, but I think the way it's handled now is pretty close to ideal.

I don't think you want to automatically grant the next base for any and all instances of obstruction. For instance, in Saturday night's play, if the ball only squirts 10 feet away from Middlebrooks and the same thing happens (except with Craig beating subsequently beating a hasty retreat to third), I don't think awarding him home is either fair or the way to structure the rule (as it would encourage baserunners to seek out fielders). So, you let it play out and see how much the obstruction affected the play at large.

Yes, Tejada would not have stopped running had he not been obstructed. But baserunner dumbassery is not a legitimate excuse, and not something umpires should be factoring into the equation, IMO.


If Tejada had broken his leg and laid prone on the ground until being tagged (which would mean he was "out by a lot"), would that have "made the obstruction no longer relevant to the determination of out/safe?"


Presumbly he would have been ruled safe, if the obstruction caused the broken leg.

What if he had returned to third base after being obstructed on his way home?


That's the most interesting question, and the only real (if unavoidable) flaw with what is otherwise a pretty solidly designed system governing all these things (starting with baserunner interference).

   73. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4587099)
I posed the question in the Lounge, and got this interesting response:

* * *

There was a screwup here, but not by the umpire.

Venable was obstructed after the throw had passed, so the Reds are no longer making a play on him. It's a live-ball obstruction and not a dead-ball obstruction. In this you are absolutely correct.

But note... the umpire does not call the play dead. (If he did, he'd have his hands above his head to signal time/dead ball.)

He correctly calls and signals obstruction; pointing to the obstruction and seeming to say "obstruction". But the ball is not dead. The ball is still live. While Venable is trotting to third. While the Reds are arguing. The ball is still live. He hasn't called the play dead. It's a great piece of umpiring.
   74. SoSH U at work Posted: October 28, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4587114)
Excellent catch Davo (or whoever caught it in that dark place). The ump handled it properly; the players interpreted it incorrectly.

   75. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4587138)
Huh. Is that right? Interesting.
   76. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4587154)
I should have known that if Dusty Baker was arguing one way, the correct call was whatever he was arguing against. (/BTF meme)
   77. Danny Posted: October 28, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4587188)
I don't think you want to automatically grant the next base for any and all instances of obstruction. For instance, in Saturday night's play, if the ball only squirts 10 feet away from Middlebrooks and the same thing happens (except with Craig beating subsequently beating a hasty retreat to third), I don't think awarding him home is either fair or the way to structure the rule (as it would encourage baserunners to seek out fielders).

Of course not, and that isn't at all what I wrote. Here's what I wrote:
The rule says that the umpire should "impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction." The question the umpire should be asking himself is "would Tejada have scored if he hadn't been obstructed?"

It's not that any an all instances of obstruction should result in extra bases been granted; rather, it's that runners should be granted a base they would have reached safely had they not been obstructed with. This seems to be exactly what John Hirscbeck said at the presser a couple days ago:
JOHN HIRSCHBECK: And that's the last, most important part of this rule, is that the umpire has to determine ?? if what you saw tonight happened and he's out by 20 feet, then the umpire determines that if the obstruction had not occurred, he would have been out, okay? But since it was right there, bang, bang play, obviously that's obstruction, definitely had something to do with the play.

If the runner would have scored had the obstruction not occurred, then the runner should be credited with the run. I understand that Tejada continuing to run home would make this an easier call for the umpire, as he would then have a better idea of how close the play would have been, but nothing in the rule or comments says that the runner has to continue running after the obstruction (which is what you and Torre are claiming is the distinction).

The umpires saw how long Craig was tripped up for, and they saw how close the play was at the plate, so it was easy for them to say that he would have scored if not for the obstruction. But, as you can see from my "broken leg" example, the umpire has to make the judgment call as to whether the runner would have advanced absent obstruction regardless of whether the runner continues on after the obstruction.
If Tejada had broken his leg and laid prone on the ground until being tagged (which would mean he was "out by a lot"), would that have "made the obstruction no longer relevant to the determination of out/safe?"

Presumbly he would have been ruled safe, if the obstruction caused the broken leg.

Presumably, the umpire would give him the run if he thought the runner would have been safe had he not been obstructed, and he would have called the runner out if he thought the runner would have been out at the plate had he not been obstructed with.
   78. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4587202)
So the umpire can retroactively decide that his obstruction motion had no meaning. It makes sense but it is odd.
   79. SoSH U at work Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4587207)
Presumably, the umpire would give him the run if he thought the runner would have been safe had he not been obstructed, and he would have called the runner out if he thought the runner would have been out at the plate had he not been obstructed with.


Possible, but doubtful. I don't imagine an umpire is going to grant an out when fielder misconduct incapacitates a player.

I see what you're saying, and it's certainly a valid interpretation. I think it's better the Tejada play isn't handled that way, though YMMV.

So the umpire can retroactively decide that his obstruction motion had no meaning.


I don't think it's saying that it has no meaning. Just that it's meaning wasn't meaningful enough.

I think the way to look at it is that obstruction has occurred, and identified. But the simple fact that some degree of obstruction has happened does not automatically result in anything. Nor, would I argue, should it.
   80. PreservedFish Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4587216)
So if you are the runner, the strategy is to ignore the obstruction call. Right? Then I wonder how often a runner is awarded abase that he ultimately does not try to advance to.
   81. SoSH U at work Posted: October 28, 2013 at 03:16 PM (#4587220)
So if you are the runner, the strategy is to ignore the obstruction call. Right?


I don't know. If you notice an obstruction call has been made and you think that it will still be a close play at the next base, you should probably go.

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