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Home » 2013 PostseasonOctober 2013 » Obstruction


There were two rules cited. The first was 7.06:

When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal "Obstruction."
If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batterrunner [sic] 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.
Rule 7.06(a) Comment: When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls “Time,” with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given; however, should a thrown ball be in flight before the obstruction is called by the umpire, the runners are to be awarded such bases on wild throws as they would have been awarded had not obstruction occurred. On a play where a runner was trapped between second and third and obstructed by the third baseman going into third base while the throw is in flight from the shortstop, if such throw goes into the dugout the obstructed runner is to be awarded home base. Any other runners on base in this situation would also be awarded two bases from the base they last legally touched before obstruction was called.
(b) If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call “Time” and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction.
Rule 7.06(b) Comment: Under 7.06(b) when the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire’s judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call.
NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.

There is an additional comment in 2.00 Definition of Terms:

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.

Jim Joyce did not use the correct mechanics to call obstruction. If it was scenario (a), why didn’t he put both hands up in the air to signal that the ball was dead? Joyce pointed at third base and the play continued on as if it were scenario (b), which only applies if no play was being made on the obstructed runner.

The umpires’ press conference afterwards was a post hoc justification of the call. Crew chief John Hirschbeck stated here that since it was a bang-bang play at home that obviously Allen Craig would have made it without the obstruction. But that justification uses a mix of the (a) and (b) situations described above. It seems clear that (a) applied, so why even invoke the closeness of the play at the plate? While I am bothered by the hyper-technical application of the rule I believe it was the correct call. It is just infuriating that the umpires don't seem to understand the entirety of the rule.

If you read the rule regarding interference, one could hyper-technically rule that Craig interfered with Will Middlebrooks.

Any runner is out when --
(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball;
Rule 7.08(b) Comment: A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not.
If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpire’s judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional. If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out. With two out, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

Craig’s pop-up slide wasn’t ruled interference, but it just as easily could have been judged as such.

Don’t even get me started about Dana DeMuth’s strike zone.

The controversial conclusion to this game unfortunately diminishes Dustin Pedroia and Daniel Nava’s excellent execution on the play. Pedroia fielded Jon Jay’s nubber perfectly and got Yadier Molina out at home. Nava dashed from left field to back up third base, fielded Saltalamacchia’s ill-advised throw (or is it Middlebrooks’s badly fielded attempt?) and fired a BB from foul territory straight home.

The call also took the heat off of John Farrell, who seemed ill-prepared to manage a game under National League rules. The Red Sox skipper failed to execute the double switch in the ninth and had Brandon Workman face Trevor Rosenthal. While Rosenthal has rendered major league batters as effective at the dish as pitchers, Farrell ended the game with Mike Napoli unused.

World Series Game 3: October 26, 2013
Boston Red Sox
4 L: Brandon Workman (0-1)
3B: Xander Bogaerts (1)
WinSt. Louis Cardinals
5 BS: Seth Maness (1)
H: Carlos Martinez (2)
BS, W: Trevor Rosenthal (1, 1-0)
2B: Matt Adams (1), Matt Holliday (1), Allen Craig (1)

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