Obstruction of Justice! Or Just Voodoo Magic and Other Bullets

world series obstruction craig middlebrooksControversial call to conclude a World Series game involving the Cardinals? You better believe the Cardinals were on the benefitting end. Voodoo magic, and the Cards are now up 2-1 in the series.

  • The play, which you can watch here (and grainy, Bigfoot shot to the right), saw the Cardinals with men on second and third and one out in the bottom of the 9th, tied 4-4. A grounder to second results in a runner thrown out at the plate. The catcher throws to third to try and nail the guy advancing from second. That throw gets away from the third baseman, who goes to the ground in the attempt to make the catch. The runner, now trying to score from third, trips over the third baseman. The runner’s progress is impeded slightly, and he’s then thrown out at home to end the game. But obstruction is called, and the runner, Allen Craig, is awarded home. Game over. Walk-off voodoo win.
  • Was it the right call? My reading of the official rule, and the comment thereto, says it was: “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.” That is, essentially, what happened. It’s bad luck for the Red Sox, as I don’t think Will Middlebrooks was *trying* to obstruct, and I don’t think he really had any chance to get out of the way.
  • Kris Bryant did the AFL a favor and took the day off yesterday, leaving Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Wes Darvill, and Lendy Castillo there for the Mesa Solar Sox to pick up the slack. They did not, and it was a 6-1 loss. Almora went 0-4 with a K, Soler went 1-4 with a double, Darvill went 1-3 with a double (those two doubles were the only extra base hits for the Solar Sox, as the pitching on the other side was dominating), and Castillo threw a scoreless inning (1 BB, 1 K).
  • CSN Chicago looks at the state of “closer” in the Cubs’ organization, and aptly notes that it’s not like the Cubs – from a philosophical standpoint – feel like they have to go out and get a “proven” closer. A veteran reliever or two that may have been a closer in a previous life? Sure. There can be value there.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

151 responses to “Obstruction of Justice! Or Just Voodoo Magic and Other Bullets”

  1. Mysterious4th

    If the Red Sox end up losing the WS could Middlebrooks become the Red Sox’s version of the Cubs’ Bartman? of course I am joking……maybe…

    1. Andrew

      I believe he would become the second coming of Buckner.

  2. Rich H

    I can not get over how one horrible game defensively for Middlesbrook cost Boston so much. From the playable “hits” that ate him alive to the boneheaded play in the nineth, it was like the kid had a bullseye on him.

  3. Die hard

    Key to play was aggressiveness of 3rd base coach soon to be next Cubs mgr JO. IMO

  4. ETS

    3 things I like about the lack of a DH last night.
    1) I like watching big papi at 1st*
    2) Kid X got to play short because of the double switch. Not often you see a 21 year old SS in the WS. That was pretty cool.
    3) The strategy at the end of game – leaving in workman, when to use double switches – added a level of enjoyment for me personally.

    I completely understand the proponents of the DH, and I’m sure eventually it will be in both leagues (because it encourages teams to give more money in contracts to older players so I believe eventually the PA will get this passed) but here are 3 reasons from last night’s game specifically that I, personally, like the lack of DH.

    Feel free to disagree or flame away.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Agreed, I like the game better without the DH but having the DH gives the AL an advantage and since the PA won’t get rid of it then the DH will be coming to the NL.

      1. The Logos

        I don’t think that’s always the case; in fact, in this series in particular I believe the Cardinals gain more because of the DH.

        One of the biggest advantages Boston had over the Cardinals is defense, but because of the DH Boston is forced to change their defense around to keep their offense in tact or make changes offensively to keep their defense in place.

        Either change mskes them a weaker team; also, before Craig reinjured himself they are not in as bad of a position in an AL park due to the emergence of Adams.

        1. The Logos

          Please feel free to ignore the bad syntax.

        2. BWA

          David Ortiz’s defense doesn’t matter when he is hitting .700 with a couple homeruns. Plus, its not like Napoli is a great 1st baseman either. They sure miss his bat though.

    2. cubs2003

      I’m a huge fan of NL baseball. I think the DH will eventually enter the NL, but I’ll be bummed. It’s just more fun to watch the type of things you mentioned. I’m sure I’m not the only one who plays armchair manager when I watch a game, and there’s so many little things that have to be considered that aren’t with the DH.

      1. D.G.Lang

        On one hand, I DON’T like the DH but on the other hand if Rizzo recovers and has the career which many people expect him to have and there is no room for Vogelbach at first base then I will support the DH just to have Vogelbach there.

        I do appreciate the fact that the DH does keep some very good hitters longer than they would remain without it and the fact that it allows some good players with physical problems to remain in the game even though they may not be able to play a defensive position any longer.

        I look at it like this, even though ALL players eventually have to retire it is a shame that those who can still produce offensively are sometimes forced to retire much earlier because an injury impacts their ability to field a defensive position.

        Consider all of the great players who have had a long and very successful career and have become Hall of Famers or great heroes to their teams and then think of what a great waste it would if any of them are forced prematurely due an injury suffered while playing baseball.

  5. Jono

    Lesson? Stop making risky throws to 3rd late in close games!

    1. The Logos

      Agreed. The first thing I said was, “Why did he throw that ball?”

      1. TOOT

        Prime Time headline?

    2. GeorgeJetson

      Absolutely. Why the hell did Salty make that throw with two outs?

      Best case it’s a good throw and Craig is held at third.
      Worst case he airmails it and Craig gets home.
      End result, he got the inbetween case. Craig still gets home.
      Bottom line – Craig scored as a direct result of that throw to third.

      1. Tom G

        better yet…….why pitch to left handed Jay with 1st base open….put him on set up double play and force at home and it brings up light hitting right hander kozma…. if im not mistaken the cards were out of pinch hitters!!

      2. D.G.Lang

        Actually, the BEST case would be the runner out at third and it WAS very close. It was so close that there was contact between the fielder and the runner while the fielder was catching the ball. The throw was in a good location and easily catchable but missed because of that contact.

        I can understand the catcher think that he had a good chance of getting the runner especially one with a bad leg/foot who couldn’t run very well. Indeed, even the throw to the plate got the runner.

        What’s the better situation, three outs or a runner on third capable of scoring with any hit or error? I can see the catcher’s point of view that it was possible to catch the runner and end the inning and he has most likely done that many other times in his career. It’s very hard for me to criticize someone for trying to do something he is accustomed to doing normally.

        It is only the fact that it is a world series game magnifying the seriousness of the event as it actually happened. In most other games we would most likely say that it was a good and reasonable attempt by the catcher which simply turned out bad.

        Should we say that no fielder ever should try to throw out a slow runner trying for an extra base? We don’t know exactly what the catcher was thinking or even if he was aware that the runner was hobbled by a bad foot. If he was told that that particular runner was slower than normal that may have lead him to believe that the play had a better chance of success than it normally would.

        I certainly can’t fault the fielder either because he was in position to catch the ball and was bumped by the runner but no interference was called against the runner because the rules don’t recognize a runner as being capable of interfering with a position player.

        I can’t fault the runner either as he simply slid into the base and immediately stood up and positioned himself to be able to run home if possible. Indeed the runner did good in that situation.

        If we certainly can’t blame either the runner or the third baseman and the catcher appears the easiest to blame the catcher is taking the heat for what was not a bad attempt but only a failed attempt in an important game.

  6. Brains

    RIP Lou Reed.

    1. YourResidentJag

      Yes!

    2. cubs2003

      I was very sad to read this news. The Velvet Underground and Nico is the album that started the modern era of music. My favorite album, and I’m a huge music fan. RIP Lou Reed.

      1. jt

        good time to break out “Sweet Jane”

  7. Carmelo

    Why does Joyce look twice down the left field line after the ball was thrown past 3rd base? By taking his eyes off of Craig/Middlebrook he turns and sees Craig stumbling, which I think he did on his own. Bad call.

    1. TK

      I don’t like that call at all. The defender has to make a play on the ball. He didn’t impede the runner going into 3rd, fell toward 2B, at least a few feet from the runners path to the plate. There should have been no contact made. The runner went out of the baseline, toward the pitcher’s mound, instead of toward the plate, thereby initiating contact with the defender. I don’t care what the rule book says . . . That’s a horse spit call. How does MidBrks, laying on his stomach between 2B and 3B impede a runners progress between 3B and home? BS!!!!! Mindless Knee jerk reaction by the ump and by MLB (rule book). Rule definitely needs serious review.

  8. Bill

    I think Craig stumbled before he even reached Middlebrook and would have fallen down if Middlebrook wasn’t in the way. IMHO the call could have went either way and not been a terrible call. I hate the Cards, so wish the call would have went the Sox way, but as I said, I could have seen the call being made either way and wouldn’t have a real beef with it.

  9. Nomars left glove

    I have a couple of good friends who are cards fans and it cracks me up when I hear them whine about how little respect the team gets from the media and how things never fall their way. I always think about how homer-y the fox guys get for them on every broadcast. They could be losing 10 to nothing and the only thing the fox guys talk about is molina’s hitting. I totally understand that he’s good, but he could be 0-4 with 3 strike outs and the fox reporters would talk about how outmatched the pitcher is when he’s facing him. Secondly, if the Rockies had been in this WS they would have never gotten that call. I recall holiday sliding in with spiks up 12 feet off of second base, the infield fly (against braves last year), and numerous other things that range from pitches off the plate to any other shenanigans. Make no mistake, I think that if this were any other team, that call wouldn’t have happened. Only the cards would win game 3 of the World Series with a walk off obstruction call.

    1. Rich

      Yes if the Rockies were in that situation, the umpires would not make that call..
      silly statement

    2. baldtaxguy

      (1) Turn down the sound – much more enjoyable way to listen to Buck Jr. and Captain Obvious.

      (2) Who cares about the Rockies?

    3. cubbiesOHcubbies

      so what your saying is, your going to whine about how the Cardinals get ALL the calls, all while trashing your friends for whining that the Cardinals get NONE of the calls. Sounds like you and your buddies are made for each other.

  10. TSB

    A baseball player (in this case a third baseman), flat on his stomach in the middle of a play would either a) immediately try and get up in case he is needed in the play; this would require him to bring his knees forward, and not stick his legs up in the air. Alternative b) the player, seeing that a throw is to go to home plate would stay flattened on the ground as to not obstruct a possible throw. He would not put his legs up in the air, so as not to cause an obstruction. Therefore by Middlebrooks’ actions, it looks like a definite case of obstruction.

    1. TK

      Uh, watch it again. LOOK AT WHERE THE CONTACT OCCURS ! ! ! If the runner runs toward home plate, there’s no contact. He went out of the base path and initiated the contact.

  11. Cheese Chad

    That call sucked. Interpretation of the rule was accurate, but the rule should be changed. If the fielder is not able to get out of the way then it shouldn’t be obstruction. They also need to make the rule that the hitter (beltran) needs to attempt to get out of the way of the ball or it isn’t a HBP just a ball. Cardinals may play within the rules but the rules are, in the words of Charles Barkley, “Radikalis”

    1. Kevin

      ” They also need to make the rule that the hitter (beltran) needs to attempt to get out of the way of the ball or it isn’t a HBP just a ball.”

      It’s in the rules but it wasn’t called. If you allow Beltran 1st base without trying to get out of the way, then you can’t make that obstruction call.

      1. BWA

        I’m pretty positive that is not in the rules. It is a silly made up little league/high school rule. If you wanna get hit by a ball coming at you at 84-100 MPH, you deserve first base.

        Now it is illegal to move into the pitch if it is not going to hit you.

        1. jj

          Rule 6.08b requires a hitter to attempt to avoid the pitch to be awarded first base – it isn’t called but it is a rule

  12. Fenway Frank

    I think the obstruction call is wrong since he was on the ground as a result of fielding the throw. If this is not the rule, it should be. If, for example, a first baseman drops a throw but it remains in the area, the runner is incentivized to plow into the 1B making the turn to second when he knows he can’t make it there otherwise.

    1. udbrky

      That would be incidental contact. I think if he doesn’t lift his legs, it’s incidental contact.

    2. TK

      EXACTLY ! ! ! !

      This could open a Pandora’s box for runners to intentionally “orchestrate” contact that would never naturally occur. Single to RF? Nonsense! Make it a 2B! Just round 1B, locate the defender and CHARGE ! ! ! ! ! And we all know the Crads would be all about it. BAD RULE AND BAD CALL.

      1. Kyle

        Pandora’s box? That’s always been the case.

        Aren’t baserunners taught to slam into anyone who doesn’t clear out of the baseline in a rundown?

  13. 5412

    Hi guys,

    Unlike politicians who sometimes choose which laws they want to enforce, the rules are the rules. If we don’t like the rules, lobby to get them changed. According to the rules, it looks to me like the correct call.

    NOW HERE IS WHAT I LOVED. I am a person who hates the DH. It gives the AL teams a decided disadvantage. The Angels could offer Pujols a much longer contract than the Cardinals because they know they have the option of using him as a DH down the road. AVerage DH in the AL makes over $10 million. NL teams can’t pay that kind of money for a one dimensional player because they can’t use him every day.

    I LOVED it when Ortiz muffed that ball and two Cardinal runs scored as a result. I loved it when, in the top of the 9th, the Red Sox pitcher…..in his firs MLB at bat, struck out on three pitches. For once the DH worked in favor of the NL which does not happen all that often.

    Yes, I lobby to get the rule changed but so far it is fruitless.

    regards,
    5412

  14. AdamAE24

    How much has Saltalamacchia hurt his FA value?

    1. cubs2003

      I’d like to think FO’s will judge a player on his body of work more than one high profile play. If Middlebrooks couldn’t get it he should have come off the bag and at least blocked it imo. I have no interest in Salty to the Cubs, though.

  15. BlameHendry

    As if I don’t already have enough reasons to hate the Cardinals…

    Their was absolutely nothing Middlebrooks could do. His legs didn’t go up as an attempt to trip Craig, his legs went up because he was clearly trying to get back on his feet as quickly as possible. If Craig was halfway between 2nd and 3rd when Middlebrooks fell, and Middlebrooks remained lying on the ground in the same spot by the time Craig gets to 3B, THEN a obstruction call would make sense. But this is just stupid. Craig wasn’t even fully in the base path, if he was running right on the line he would have had absolutely no contact with Middlebrooks.

    This rule needs to be redefined.

    1. roz

      Middlebrooks was lying directly in the base path that Craig created when he turned towards home and started running. I really don’t see what is so confusing about this call. It was correct.

      1. jt

        The only argument that I see the RS having is that Craig got up an stepped toward second rather that toward the stands or toward home. Being between 3rd and home and above the plane created by 2B and 3B (toward the OF) shouldn’t Craig have had to retouch 3B?

        1. wvcubsfan

          My only issue is that Middlebrooks was laying in the same location as he was when the ball got away. I do think that this rule may be looked at so that the implementation of this rule will be more clear in a case like this. If he falls to the ground attempting to make a play he should be able to remain in that position without being called for obstruction so long as he attempts to stand up in a timely manner.

          1. TOOT

            The rule is clear. No interferance. Pretty clear to me.

          2. TOOT

            I looked at the replay again(for the hundreth time). If a third baseman is trying to get up in that situation,(as most have implied that are sticking up for non-interference) he certainly would not attempt to with his legs in the air. Case closed.

            1. Bill

              And if Craig wouldn’t have taken 1-2 steps towards 2nd base there wouldn’t have been interference. If Craig pops up from 3rd base and runs straight toward home, no interference. If Craig pops up and takes a step or two to his right, no interference. I’m not saying the call was wrong, but the rule stinks and should be changed. Middlebrook’s legs in the air don’t come into play if Craig just runs a straight line from base to plate or 1 step right of the line and home plate. Crazy play and a crazy rule, IMHO.

            2. BT

              The case isn’t remotely “closed”. Even Joe Torre said that while the call was technically correct, they are going to have to look at it over the winter, because the way it was written, it was mostly applicable to plays occurring at second base. Torre admitted there wasn’t much Middlebrooks could have done to avoid the interference call.

  16. cubmig

    …and in the top of the 6th, Gomes hits a 3R HR……… and suddenly all the waving white flags at Busch go limp.

    BoSox 4 – deadbirds and their best fans in baseball 1

    Think I’ll enjoy a beer for that Gomes “Welcome”.

  17. Jono

    Jonny Gommes, baby!!

    1. Jono

      Gomes, duh

  18. cubmig

    shit. Lost the feed. Holiday was up–2 on. Anything happen? Anyone…..

    1. Jimmy James

      Nope, grounder to 2nd

  19. Jono

    Booger should be released for watching strike 3 to end the top of the 8th. Ok, that’s not true, but still

  20. Jeff

    That was just so Wong!!!!

    1. DarthHater

      Wong-Way Wong.

  21. Jono

    Yeah, boyyyyy! No bad throws to third, they win the game

  22. cubmig

    I am sure the “Best Fans in Baseball” (LOL) are calling for Wong’s head as they whine their way out of the park………..LOL. I dare say getting picked off is much more embarrassing than last night’s ump’s call. Serves them right……..ahhh the sweet smell of justice!

  23. cubmig

    ….and…….the Faux announcers have to be a bit red-faced by being critical of Napoli guarding Wong the way he was. Little did they know……..

    1. Jono

      EXACTLY! That was my first reaction to the play. Well, maybe my second reaction

    2. FFP

      We can send Tim a T-shirt to wear. It’ll read “Little do I know…” and he’ll finally be right.

  24. N.J. Riv

    I hate Joe Buck with a passion and I’m glad McCarver is retiring. I want to see Matt Vasgersian and Brenly take over the national broadcasts on FOX.

    1. Jimmy James

      Anybody else would have to be an improvement…

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