Sunday, 27 October 2013


Well, that was something. I never imagined that this World Series was going to be this entertaining, but it's very, very entertaining. That was one memorable baseball game.

It will be remembered in the decades to come for the obstruction call that ended it, but there were several contributions making this one a classic.

I described umpire Dana Demuth's strike zone as "festive" on Twitter. By festive, I meant awful. There were pitches called strikes seemingly at random and there was never any kind of consistency.

Both teams got away with some very questionable moves and plays. Yadier Molina (who is an absolute delight to watch play) was held at third by third base coach Jose Oquendo on Jon Jay's fourth inning single. Yadi is slow, but no one in the MLB is so slow that they can't get home when the ball is being throw towards home by Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury conceded the run. As Drew Fairservice puts it, send the man home, Jose. Let Yadi be free.

My other favourite Oquendo moment was actually during the obstruction call in the 9th.

I'm sure there is a good reason for Oquendo's action, but the visual of him hap haphazardly twirling his arm and then running from the scene is hilarious.

John Farrell had himself a rough, rough game. There were a few decisions that were questionable, but none were more questionable than having relief pitcher Brandon Workman hit in the 9th inning. With Mike Napoli sitting on the bench. And the opportunity for Farrell to double switch Uehara and Ross still open to him. One might argue that Farrell didn't want to use his closer in a tie game on the road, but then he makes the pitching change and brought Uehara in anyway.

"I felt like if we get into an extended situation, which that game was looking like it was going to -- [I] held [Napoli] back in the event that spot came up again," Farrell said. "Like I said, in hindsight having Workman hit against Rosenthal is a mismatch, I recognize it, but we needed more than one inning out of Workman."

Oh, Mr. John.

And you are right, Grant Brisbee:  Brandon Workman hit in the ninth inning of a tie game in the World Series is a sentence indescribably decadent to type.

All of this madness culminates in a walk off Cardinal win on an obstruction call.

It was a call that was a hell of a lot more controversial in the minutes after it happened than it is now. The more I watch the play and read the rule, the clearer it becomes. When the rule cites an example that illustrates nearly exactly what happened, you can't really fault the umpire for making that call.

Crew chief John Hirschbeck explained after the game, “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, OK? Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer in any way obstruct the runner. That’s basically the rule.”

The rule:

The only subjective part of that rule is where the umpire decides whether the fielder is still "in the act of fielding the ball." I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that Middlebrooks is still in the act. And how many times do we see a throw to third missed and the sliding runner pops up and scores pretty easily? That happens all the time. Craig didn't score easily because he was being obstructed by Middlebrooks.

I recommend watching the umpire press conference. Joe Torre wore tweeds and a sweater vest. He puts on his glasses and reads from the official rules. 

Few other observations: Dustin Pedroia is an amazing baseball player. It's much easier to appreciate when he isn't personally killing my team. That play at the start of the above video, where throws home to get Molina. He also threw behind Matt Holliday to pick him off after Holliday strayed too far when Ellsbury missed a fly out. He just knows what he is doing.

Every Red Sox player and fan really needs to stop talking about the call going against them because it is making them look foolish at this point. I'm looking at you, Jake Peavy.

"…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 … I hope he rests well tonight in his hotel room knowing what he did. That is a joke, an absolute joke. I’m sorry. 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… it’s just beyond me … 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.”

Jake, I was ok with that call. It's the right call. Go lie down for a while.

People are smart:

Joe Posanski

Sam Miller, Baseball Prospectus

Grant Brisbee

1 comment:

  1. My main problem with the call is the last part of the rule example where is says the fielder "very likely" obstructed. It's not automatic. There are, apparently, cases where a fielder can dive after a ball, and lay down in the runner's way without it being obstruction. If last night wasn't one of those cases, what possibly could be?