Allen Craig scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the World Series. It appeared that Craig had been thrown out at the plate, but was awarded the run due to a call by Jim Joyce, that Will Middlebrooks obstructed the runner at 3rd base. The Cards took the game 5-4 to take a 2-1 series lead.
The play began with the Cardinals having runners on second and third and only one out. On a ground ball by Jon Jay, Dustin Pedroia threw the ball home getting Yadier Molina out at the plate. Craig was advancing to third when Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball down the line to Middlebrooks. It was a bad throw that ended up in the right field corner, and Craig attempted to score. However he tripped and fell over Middlebrooks legs when attempting to do so, slowing him up and allowing Daniel Nava to throw him out from the left field corner. However, the call for interference was made.
Of course many fans will see the call as controversial however lets look into the rulebook, shall we.
“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.“
I think the part I have bolded is clear, this is obstruction and the correct call was made.
While it wasn’t a ground ball, Middlebrooks was diving in an attempt to retrieve Saltalamacchia’s throw. In the process he remained lying on the ground as Craig tried to get home and then he raised his legs and they were in Craig’s way as he tried to score. Whether this was done intentionally or not, it makes no difference. The fact is that Middlebrooks was lying in the baseline, and his legs obstructed Craig’s path to home plate. Thats the only consideration the Ump has to make here, and Jim Joyce got it right.
With the rule in mind, you can watch it for yourself here. Thanks to youtube user xXxCrosby87Xx for posting the video:
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