If you asked any true baseball fan in April if they would like to see game three of the 2013 World Series end as a result of an obstruction call, my guess is 99.99% would say no. I’m sure deep down, most of the fans of last night’s beneficiaries of the obstruction call, the St. Louis Cardinals, would agree. But I’ve seen football games decided because a defensive lineman lined up in the neutral zone by a hair, and a field goal kicker getting to re-kick a missed field goal attempt as a result and making it.
What lining up in the neutral zone in the NFL, and obstruction in baseball has in common, is that intent is irrelevant. The infraction was done or it was not done. Granted, obstruction occurs far less frequently then lining up off sides. But when it occurs, it is called. It is not as if the umpires generally let obstruction go. If that were the case, a Boston Red Sox player, and fan, would have a legitimate beef. But when it does occur, and umpires see it, they call it.
In an article by Gorden Edes on ESPN.com, Sox pitcher Jake Peavy said the following: “I cannot believe you make that call from home plate,” I’m beat. I’m out of words. I don’t know what to say. I think it’s a crying shame a call like that is going to decide a World Series game. It’s a joke. Two teams are pouring their hearts out on the field and that’s the call you make.”
Another irrelevant fact is which umpire made the call, but in fact third base umpire Jim Joyce did make the call on the play that occurred at third base when Sox catcher, Jarold Saltalamoccia threw the ball to Will Middlebrooks. However, the only question that matters is, is it the right call. Given that it is a rule that is in effect and is called when it occurs, the worse ending, Mr. Peavy, would have been if the Cardinals lost as a result of non-call here. Allen Craig of the Cardinals was interfered with by Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox period.
Is it the best way to end a game? Far from it. Neither is the walk-off walk or the walk off hit by pitch. But those unintentional plays occur too. At least they’re by players and not by fan interference like what happened with Steve Bartman (no offense Steve, you’ve suffered enough), when he interfered with a foul ball that hurt his home town Chicago Cubs.
But I’ll tell you what, if Boston fan wants to go back in time and reverse this call, I’ll use my mystical powers to grant this request. IF, we can also go back in time and reverse the tuck rule call that enabled Tom Brady and The New England Patriots to go on and win their first Superbowl. (And oh by the way the tuck rule is so silly it has been eliminated).
Move on Red Sox nation, you’re only down 2-1.