Game 3: Don’t Hate the Umpires, Hate the Rule


What’s with St. Louis and crazy World Series games? Heck, what’s with Jim Joyce being in the spotlight again — once in a game where he admittedly ruined a perfect game for Armando Galarraga, and now in a game where his interpretation of the rule essentially ended World Series Game 3 between the Red Sox and Cardinals to give the National League Champs a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven.

Oct 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter

Allen Craig

(21) scores the winning run on an obstruction call as Boston Red Sox second baseman

Dustin Pedroia

(15) and relief pitcher

Koji Uehara

(19) react during the ninth inning of game three of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium. Cardinals won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The video, which, in case you have not seen yet, is below.

I’m not sure what people expected the umpires to do in that situation besides make the correct call. Rule 2.00 on obstruction is written down as such, with the emphasis being mine:

"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."

Reaction number one: notice how there is no point about the white chalk line, and only “the progress of the runner” is described. Reaction number two: Will Middlebrooks was in an awful position after not catching that throw from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The game was likely over once that ball was not caught. See below:

We should not expect Allen Craig to have stopped what he was doing to go around a down-on-the-ground Will Middlebrooks — the objective, after all, in this instance is to get from one base to another, and WMB happens to be in Craig’s way. Sure, Middlebrooks wasn’t as far away from the baseline as he may have initially thought, but neither the baseline nor the intent of Middlebrooks to trip Craig has any bearing on this obstruction call. Some may find interesting speculation that whether Middlebrooks kept his legs on the ground would the obstruction still be made by Joyce, but it still would have been difficult for the young third baseman to have not been in the not-100% Cardinal’s way home.

Tangent: Let me also take this time to mention Dustin Pedroia made a fantastic play to get the second out and the catcher Saltalamacchia made an awful decision to throw to third.

So you can be mad like Jake Peavy and David Ortiz, but it’s not going to get you anywhere: the umpires made the call based on the rule they had. They’re not going to stop calling the rules in the World Series, although they won’t necessarily stop them from ignoring what the strike zone should have been. Back to the point at hand, the umpires made the right call. I’m not sure what rule-haters want the rule change to, I believe interference and obstruction calls are necessary, and this time, the human element prevailed.

Agree? Disagree? Should the rule be changed? If so, to what? Let us know in the comments section!