October 27, 2013

Farrell: Obstruction Call Is "Bitter Pill To Swallow"

Game 3 was the fourth World Series game to end on an error and the first postseason game to end on an obstruction error.
Crew chief John Hirschbeck:
Obstruction is the act of a fielder obstructing a runner when not in the act of fielding a ball. It does not have to be intent. There does not have to be intent. Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer in any way obstruct the runner.
Rule 7.06:
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.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia:
You're taught to make the tag and look up. I made the tag and looked up. I saw [Craig] wasn't even halfway there. He's not been running great. I thought I was able to get him.
Will Middlebrooks:
I had to dive for that ball. I was pretty inside the baseline, as we could all see. I dive for the ball there. There's really nowhere for me to go. I go to get up. He's on top of me. There's really nowhere for me to go there. I don't know. That's a tough one. I was going to push myself up. They said it doesn't matter. He ran into me. I still haven't processed it all. I don't know. I don't agree with it.
Third base umpire Jim Joyce:
When [Craig] tried to advance to home, the feet were up in the air and he tripped over Middlebrooks right there and immediately and instinctively I called obstruction. ... The feet didn't play too much into that because he was still in the area where the base runner needs to go to advance to home plate. The baserunner has every right to go unobstructed to home plate and unfortunately for Middlebrooks he was right there and there was contact.
However, Joyce was not looking at Craig and Middlebrooks initially; video shows he was watching the ball go into foul territory. Joyce also said that Craig was "right on the chalk" of the baseline when he was allegedly interfered with; replays showed that was absolutely not true.

Daniel Nava:
I've never seen a play like that, and hopefully I never will [again].
From the replay, I didn't see how it was obstruction. I mean, he's lying on the ground. Craig was actually out of the baseline trying to jump over him.
Don't forget, the runner establishes his own baseline. If he's on second on a base hit and rounds third wide, that baseline is from where he is, way outside the line, back to third and to home plate, it's almost a triangle. So the runner establishes his own baseline.
David Ortiz:
I don't care what anybody says, that's no way for a World Series game to end.
Jake Peavy:
It's an absolute crying shame that a call like this is going to decide a World Series game. It's a joke. There's no other way to say it. It's a joke. ... I don't know how [DeMuth] is going to go lay his head down tonight. When you watch how hard these two teams are playing in the World Series and what it takes to get here and what it takes to climb back in that game, it's just amazing to me that it would end on a call like that.
He (DeMuth) has already proven that he can not see things correctly in Game 1. (He missed) a pretty obvious (call) 4 feet in front of him. It would have been nice to have a meeting of the minds. You could kind of tell when he (DeMuth) was pointing to third what he was calling. I hope he rests well tonight in his hotel room knowing what he did. That is a joke, an absolute joke. ... Go to talk to him and ask him if he feels good and right about his call to end a World Series game on a diving play ... I don't know how anybody can say, "Yeah, that's how it should have ended." Go find me one person that's OK with that call, other than Cardinals fans, because they won the game.
Dustin Pedroia:
This game's not going to define our team, by any means. We lost a tough game. We'll come out and play tomorrow. This won't stop us.
Jackie MacMullan, ESPNBoston:
They don't really have time to digest the hard truth, because here come Games 4 and 5 of the World Series on the heels of a wild, emotional and controversial Game 3, three pivotal games in three action-packed days, with little time to dwell on what could have been or should have been or might have been. ...

Here's the bottom line on what happened last night: The Red Sox became the first team in postseason history to lose on an obstruction call, which is indisputably a really crummy way to end an otherwise terrific, dramatic, entertaining game filled with clutch performances from both teams.

But the call was the right one.

And the sooner manager John Farrell and his boys move beyond it, the better.

That may be a tall order.
The biggest issue for me is that the call happened at such a critical time. It did not affect a run in the fourth inning. It decided the outcome of the game. And by making that call, and noting that the fielder's intention has nothing to do with whether obstruction occurred, the umpires are taking the game away from the players, not letting them determine the outcome on the field. In a potential game-ending situation in the World Series, the umpire should be absolutely sure that obstruction has been made; perhaps he should be clear that such obstruction was deliberate. By the letter of the law (which the umpires ignore when it comes to the strike zone), it appears to have been the right call. Perhaps. It was not an obvious call. A World Series game should not be decided on one umpire's judgment call. Like John Farrell said, it's a bitter pill to swallow.
There was also plenty of questioning of John Farrell's managerial moves. Farrell himself second-guessed a couple of decisions after the game. ... ESPN's David Schoenfield believes Farrell is as much of a goat as Saltalamacchia.


allan said...

Players from around MLB tweeted their opinions of the call.

Tom DePlonty said...

Joe Posnanski

"You will never see a game where the manager and players DECIDED more than this one. When Farrell decided to hit his pitcher, when he decided to leave Napoli on the bench to rot, when he decided to pitch to Jay, when Salty decided to throw to third, when Middlebrooks decided not to come off the bag and throw his body Secret Service style to stop the ball, the Red Sox decided to lose. And they did."

allan said...

Grant Brisbee: "the Red Sox lost it fair and square"

Rob Neyer says, in effect, stop complaining and catch the goddamn baseball

allan said...

Dave Cameron: "The more I watch the play, the less of a problem I have with the call, and the less I like how the rule is written. It seems like a fielder should be given a reasonable opportunity to attempt to not interfere. One could argue whether or not Middlebrooks was trying to trip Craig or stand up to get back into fielding position, but we probably shouldn’t have a rule that penalizes defenders for not having the ability to teleport instantaneously off the ground."

laura k said...

I agree with Posnanski.

In my opinion, blaming this loss on that call is whiny sore-losering of the first degree.

Michael said...

I was pretty ticked off by the call but Cameron is spot on. Probably the correct call, just a really dumb rule and it sucks to see a WS game end like that. But I'm more pissed at Salty & Farrell. Poz is correct - and let's face it, we'd be printing the rule on t-shirts had it been the Sox who benefitted from it.

Tom DePlonty said...

This from the Brisbee piece is making me laugh over and over again, I'm sorry to say:

"Also because Brandon Workman hit in the ninth inning of a tie game in the World Series, which is a sentence that's just indescribably decadent to type. Seriously, you should try that. It's amazing. Brandon Workman hit in the ninth inning of a tie game in the World Series. Ha, whew, what'd you put in these brownies, Mabel? Brandon Workman hit in the ninth inning of a tie game in the World Series.""

Section 36 said...

My question comes from the last line of rule 2 where the fielder has "very likely" obstructed. It's not automatic, just very likely. So, if it didn't need to be called, why was it? And if this wasn't one of the rare cases that isn't obstruction, what on earth is?

allan said...

And that "very likely" is the hangup for me, too. It creates a gray area - and suddenly makes it a judgment call for the umpire. And I think the umpire should show some common sense and not call obstruction when (a) it clearly is not intentional, (b) the fielder could not possibly do *anything* to get out of the way, and (c) a victory in a World Series game will be awarded to either team.