Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was called for obstruction when the Cardinals' Allen Craig made contact with him while trying to advance to home plate. Middlebrooks was lying on the ground after attempting to catch an errant throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and was unable to get out of the way.
Should the call have been made or not? That has predictably been a hot conversation on Twitter since the conclusion of the game. Here, you have a guy who has spent a lot of time watching and covering baseball offer a completely different opinion than a guy who has played the game for many years:
Great call by Jim Joyce. Middlebrooks' legs going up, intentional or otherwise, is obstruction. One of the greatest #WorldSeries games ever— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 27, 2013
Need instant replay ASAP. Allen Craig had a clear path and chose to run into him. Bad call— Bill Hall (@BillHall_III) October 27, 2013
To Hall's point, Craig appeared to be a fair distance away from the baseline when he got to his feet and began to run toward home plate. However, as long as the runner is within three feet of the baseline, he isn't considered to be out of it, per MLB Rule 7.08.
Dale Murphy chimed in with an explanation of a runner establishing his own baseline:
ie..runner runs 10 ft past first. Throw gets by 1st B. Runner tries to go to 2nd, 2B obstructs him. Runner has established his ‘line’. 1/2— Dale Murphy (@DaleMurphy3) October 27, 2013
2/2 see this pretty weak diagram. Red x marks the spot of obstruction. Runner has established his line. pic.twitter.com/d8ZjKMKp4X— Dale Murphy (@DaleMurphy3) October 27, 2013
Whether or not Middlebrooks intended to impede Craig's progress was another hot topic within the topic, but the umpires addressed that in a press conference shortly after the game:
"There does not have to be intent." – Crew chief John Hirschbeck on obstruction call. #WorldSeries— MLB (@MLB) October 27, 2013
Umps agreed that Middlebrooks was an innocent victim of obstruction rule. Said intent didn't matter. Rule states runner can't be impeded.— Tom (@Haudricourt) October 27, 2013
There is a crowd of folks who believe that, regardless of the validity of the ruling, the Red Sox deserved to lose because of Saltalamacchia's ill-advised throw. One of the all-time great catchers in baseball history is among them:
Cardinals official's observation: "maybe (the red sox) shouldn't throw to 3b." True, it's cost them 2 straight games.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 27, 2013
I just don't want to see a World Series game end that way...also the Red Sox aren't great at successful throws to 3rd base.— Brett Anderson (@BrettAnderson49) October 27, 2013
@mlb spur of the moment bad decision to throw. Rule 2.00— Johnny Bench (@Johnny_Bench5) October 27, 2013
As expected, some people are just downright mad. The best example of that is the guy who started the game for the Red Sox, even if his anger might be a bit misguided (via Jesse Spector of Sporting News):
Jake Peavy is as super pissed as I’ve ever seen a pro athlete. Calls the end a "joke," says he hopes DeMuth sleeps well.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) October 27, 2013
Peavy on DeMuth: "He’s already proven that he cannot see things correctly, in Game 1."— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) October 27, 2013
This situation is serious business. The call could wind up being the difference between which team wins the World Series. But still, we need jokesters to keep the mood light, right?
Imagine if Puig made that throw, and Puig was the third baseman, and Puig was the runner. That's a lot of Puigs, where did they come from— Matt Sussman Costume (@suss2hyphens) October 27, 2013