Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reviewing Jim Joyce's Game-Ending Obstruction Call

3B Umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction on Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks as Cardinals baserunner Allen Craig stumbled home, thus cementing one of the wildest finishes in World Series officiating history. This is the first World Series in history to end on an obstruction or interference error.

Joyce identifies, signals obstruction at third base.
With one out and two on in the bottom of the 9th inning of the Red Sox-Cardinals game, tied 4-4, Cardinals batter Jon Jay hit a 0-1 splitter from Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara on the ground to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who threw home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to retire Cardinals baserunner R3 Yadier Molina, running on contact. After the put out of Molina, Saltalamacchia threw towards third base in an attempt to retire R2 Craig, the ball sailing into left field as Middlebrooks dove towards the throw in vain and Craig slid headfirst into third.

Replays indicate that as the ball rolled into left field, Craig stood and attempted to run home, appearing to trip over Middlebrooks, who lay on the ground in fair territory near third base. Craig proceeded home as left fielder Daniel Nava fielded the errant throw and fired to catcher Saltalamacchia, who tagged Craig prior to his attempted touch of home plate.

Ruled obstruction by Joyce and mirrored by HP Umpire Dana DeMuth, the rule book confirms the game-ending call was correct.

Relevant to this play is Rule 2.00 (Obstruction), which states:
"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 further specifies, in part: "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 to lie on the ground and delay the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner."

Pursuant to the terms of Rule 2.00 (Obstruction), and as referenced by Rule 7.06(b) [obstruction if no play is being made on the obstructed runner], the umpires properly identified the obstruction as it occurred and allowed play to continue until no further action was possible, at which point, DeMuth imposed his penalty to nullify the act of obstruction, awarding R2 Craig home plate.

Video: After Craig trips over Middlebrooks, Joyce calls obstruction while DeMuth gives Craig the plate

61 comments :

Gil Imber said...

As Curt Schilling (a guy who can be biased against umpiring at times) said, there's no controversy. That was the right call.

Gil Imber said...

There are two points that have come up in the Twitter-sphere where an appeal was colorably possible.


The wilder one is that Craig appears to take a step toward second base before starting home. Did he need to re-touch third base prior to proceeding home and was he therefore liable to having the run erased on appeal at third base?


The other one is that Craig never appears to touch home either on the original play and after he is ultimately awarded home on obstruction. Could this also explain why DeMuth appears reluctant to mechanize safe in a situation where training would call on him to sell his call?

Gil Imber said...

Great call, but shouldn't DeMuth called time as there was a play being made on the obstructed runner, then called him safe? Or am I mixing this up with a play being made immediately on an obstructed runner?

Gil Imber said...

Youngblue91 - since this is type B obstruction, time is NOT called at the time of the obstruction. When the play is made at the plate on the obstructed runner, it would be normal to call time then, but is not required in this instance since the play ends the game

Gil Imber said...

"When a play is being made on the obstructed runner" is in the present tense, meaning at the time of the obstruction a play is being made on the runner. At that time, the ball was in left field and no play was being made on the runner, so Type B obstruction was called.

Gil Imber said...

It was a clear and simple type B obstruction...every broadcaster and media person was touting that it was obstruction.....of course it was...(and those trying to muddy the water with questions about a play being made by the third baseman don't have any idea about the rules and their application).....the ONLY QUESTION here is the awarding of home plate to the runner......according to the rule and it's interpretation the umpire making the obstruction call must decide if, absent the obstruction, the runner would have made it to the next base.....no one discussed this...not the umpires, not the press, not the broadcast team, not the ESPN commentators, NOBODY...it is clearly up to Joyce to make that decision based on his judgement (he must know where the ball has gone - umpire mechanics are clear that he should watch the ball and glance at the runner)...there have been two similar plays in the past 11 years in league and division play...if you have a BRD you can read all about it...and about the MLB philosophy on this type of call....

Gil Imber said...

the player must still touch the awarded base (or home plate in this instance0..... did he do so???

Gil Imber said...

ball remains live on a type B obstruction call....

Gil Imber said...

DeMuth signaled safe when the runner was tagged...then pointed to Joyce concerning the Joyce call of obstruction...anybody know if there was a TV shot of the runner touching the plate?

Gil Imber said...

two people never to trust concerning the rules...players or any TV game broadcast team...

Gil Imber said...

Irrelevant, because the Sox didn't appeal at home anyway.

Gil Imber said...

As always, the mlb.com comments on this one are quite the adventure.

Gil Imber said...

Its not that simple there more to it. stop at 0:10 seconds third basemen is trying to get up and the runner has his hands on the fielder. By the time joyce look over he trips. so there something very interstring in that play.

Gil Imber said...

http://i197.photobucket.com/albums/aa45/critter171/redsoxws3_zps8d421a1d.jpg

Gil Imber said...

Watching the video, it is really quite neat to watch Jim Joyce pick up on the OBS and see his training and knowledge of OBRs come into play so quickly. He is a big fan of the game, and he surely knows that this call is HUGE...and he doesn't panic or crack under pressure. He just makes the call. That's the kind of umpire I hope I can always be!

Gil Imber said...

Question to the experts from a curious fan; how far into fair territory can a runner trip into the fielder on the ground and it still be obstruction. What would have happened if Craig tripped over Middlebrook's shoulders instead of his thighs? Clearly Craig was more in fair territory than "on the chalk" which Joyce claimed in the post game press conference

Gil Imber said...

I cant even handle reading them. Just funny everyone thinks they know the rules and they don't know shit.

Gil Imber said...

Here is something one of my friends asked me and I don't really know the answer to. Some one please help me out.

Serious question. Is there a definition in the rule book for what it means to bee"fielding the ball?" If not, there is definitely room for interpretation, and therefore argument.

Gil Imber said...

Wow - Joyce didn't even see this! Middlebrooks three feet inside the line with Craig's hands on his back, yet somehow Joyce rules he is obstructing Craig's path to the plate, when he isn't even looking! It is technically the right call, but it is one that does not have to be made.

Gil Imber said...

Fielding the ball is the physical act of receiving the ball. When you're in position to receive an incoming ball and you're in the act of making that reception, then you have a right to be there, same as the runner.

Gil Imber said...

My moronic friend thinks the umpires got this call wrong no matter how many people tell him they got it right. He thinks that after the ball passes him and he is laying on the ground he was till technically in the act of fielding the ball because he didn't have time to get out of the way. Just an FYI we are both brewer fans and hate both teams so the outcome didn't matter to us. I happen to be an umpire and he happens to be a coach. Typical coach trying to find grey areas all the time.

Gil Imber said...

If he does not make this call, then he's kicked a game-deciding call in the world series. It would be as big of a miss as Gallaraga. To a trained umpire, this is obvious, since the rulebook has this situation spelled out word-for-word.

Gil Imber said...

On Craig stepping toward second...
Craig is obviously not attempting to go backwards, but to advance. He can take whatever path he wants to get there. There's some interpretation there on the part of the umpire, but what happened here would not be worthy of sustaining an appeal.


On not touching home...
This one's a little more touchy. First, the sox have to appeal for it to matter, and I'm positive that Demuth couldn't call him out as he took his eyes off Craig in making the award.

Gil Imber said...

The runner can go wherever he wants, as long as he's legitimately running the bases (not abandoning effort). The 'baseline' isn't established until there is a tag attempt on him. The runner can purposely run into a fielder without the ball, and initiate the obstruction call. That's a smart play by a runner in a rundown. The only thing that matters here is that Craig was trying to score, and the fielder impeded his progress. Obstruction. Score. Game over.

Gil Imber said...

OBR: "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 this is forevermore called the "Jim Joyce" rule.

Gil Imber said...

Please post the entire story in pictures. Joyce has seen the entire play unfold, yet you are being suggestive with your single shot that Joyce didn't see it, because he happened to quickly glance at the ball in that shot. Here's the truth.

Gil Imber said...

I sent him the hole thing on obstruction from the rule book and the only words he saw was "most likely obstructed the runner" and "umpires judgment." So in his judgment the umpires got it wrong. He is a moron.

Gil Imber said...

How was McCarver's reaction to the call?

Gil Imber said...

no, it really is that simple. Read 2.00, definition of obstruction, and tell me it's not a simple call. Craig has the right of way to the base path, so he can run right through Middlebrooks if he doesn't get outta the way.

Gil Imber said...

^^^^^^^^^^^^^ THIS!!!

Gil Imber said...

Brian, you're right about Middlebrooks and Red Sox nation getting the bad end of this. But if you change the rule, then you're going to have fielders constantly putting themselves in the way of the runners. The rule is designed to force the fielders to do whatever they can to get out of the way, and when they can't, tough luck. "But that's not fair," someone might say. "You're right. That's baseball."

Gil Imber said...

I disagree in that I'm not saying do away with the rule. I'm saying give an umpire a choice as to who initiates the contact, whether the defender could do anything else to avoid the contact, etc. In this case, the guy with the options/fault is Craig. Why not trust the umpires to exercise good judgment?

Gil Imber said...

How would it be fair for Craig not to score when Salty throws it in the outfield? It's not fair either way you call it.

Gil Imber said...

I would argue it's MORE fair to protect the runner, even when the defender didn't do anything. If he wasn't laying prone there, Craig would have scored easily. Which, as fate would have it, is the purpose of the rule.

Gil Imber said...

http://wapc.mlb.com/play?content_id=31186613&topic_id=11493214

Gil Imber said...

Not the ideal way you want to end a World Series game, but Jim Joyce makes the correct call in a clutch situation and the best part was HE GOT THE CALL RIGHT, ultimately that is the job of an umpire. There's a reason why Joyce has been voted one of the best umpires in MLB by the players, and that play right there is why.

Gil Imber said...

Tyler, your talking out of the side of your neck. Joyce looked, looked away and looked back and pointed immediately as Craig started home the "second" time. See the link above.

Gil Imber said...

The other thing to consider in this situation - which may have made it harder to judge safe/out at home - is it still would have been obstruction if the runner had circled around the prone fielder; his progress would still have been impeded by being forced to cover a greater distance to reach the same destination. Contact isn't required for there to be obstruction, though it tends not to be as obvious when there is none and so more likely to be argued.

Gil Imber said...

and there is the question...it's not the obstruction that matters - by rule it was a type B2 obstruction - that is not a judgement call by the umpire...whether the runner scores or not is a JUDGEMENT call by the umpire - I believe the umpire was correct in his judgement this time ...there have been two calls since 2002 in DCS and LCS games involving obstruction of the runner by the third baseman...you would be interested to read the philosophy of MLB on these calls in a book called Baseball Rules Differences (2013 edition) by Childress and to see what calls were made and why in the umpires own words....want another thorny question..did the runner have to touch the plate if he was awarded it on the obstruction...did the runner in this case actually touch it???

Gil Imber said...

he seemed confused in my mind until someone in the truck started to feed him rule information.....

Gil Imber said...

We'll never know until somebody appeals. :)

Gil Imber said...

The next time your friend is coaching have the opposing 3rd baseman dive for a ball and land on 3rd base (so the runner is unable to touch it) then call his runner out for failin to touch 3rd. Tell him the fielder did not have enough time to get out of the way. See if that may change his mind.

Gil Imber said...

If he fails to touch the award of the base the onus is on the defensive team to appeal. Did the Red Sox appeal the missed base?

Gil Imber said...

not that i could tell...there was quite a lot of discussion going on about the play..they may have and DeMuth may have disallowed it...wondering too why DeMuth gave a safe sign during a live ball...the whole thing seemed a bit of a mess to be fair...

Gil Imber said...

It was clearly obstruction, but shouldn't DeMuth have ruled him out at home and let Joyce assess the obstruction penalty, since he's the one who called it?

Gil Imber said...

Joyce signaled it as soon as it happened and DeMuth either saw Joyce call it and mirrored it or also called it himself. Since they both knew the obstruction call had been made DeMuth just called "safe, he was obstructed". There's no reason for him to call the runner out when he knows the runner isn't out.

Gil Imber said...

When I saw this live I was struck by the fact the fielder flexed his legs bringing his feet up in the air. That looked like it was intentional. I know it doesn't have to be, just added another element to it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/27/jim-joyce-umpire-obstruction-call-world-series_n_4167244.html This link is to the umpires presser after the game.

I agree that McCarver had to be having the rule fed to him from the truck. He accidentally swerved into getting right. There is no way he intuitively knows that.

http://mlb.si.com/2013/10/27/world-series-game-3-obstruction-video-cardinals-red-sox/

This link shows R2's slide into home. I have him touching the plate. I think DeMuth had obstruction also. He is seen pointing just after his out mechanic on the original play at the plate. With six umpires he has nothing to do except watch things develop. It was all right in front of him.

Gil Imber said...

you make your own baseline. if his baseline takes him onto the grass, that's fine. again, joyce was 1,000 percent correct,

Gil Imber said...

"The runner can purposely run into a fielder without the ball, and initiate the obstruction call."

That's not true, if the runner purposely runs into the fielder to draw an obsturction call that IS NOT obstruction. Otherwise you'd have runners running into fielders on purpose all the time

Gil Imber said...

With one team rushing the plate to celebrate, and another team rushing to argue, I suspect if the play were properly appealed, DeMuth would score the run. There seems to be an unwritten rule unelegantly stated: if there is a mess going on, runners are not required to touch their awarded bases (ref. the Brewers/Braves home run). As was said though, no appeal was made so we won't know.

Gil Imber said...

He touched the base.

Gil Imber said...

Question? Did Craig take a normal route to home plate? After sliding into the bag? THE ANSWER IS NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Joyce even said after that he saw Craig on the Chalk. That's when he took his eye off the play.THAT WAS A HORRIBLE CALL!
IF you look at the replay Joyce follows the ball down the line rather than do his job watching the 3rd base bag.
HE actually blew the call!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Everyone thinks they know baseball!!!

Gil Imber said...

Tyler- You are correct. Joyce IF YOU WANT TO BE A FAN and watch the game!!!!!!! BUY A F-TICKET.

Gil Imber said...

That's not the normal base path. The reason why he missed it was because he was watching the ball go down the line." I say Craig slide into the base and he was right on the chalk". That's what Joyce said after the game!!!!!!! Then all of a sudden Craig is 3 feet closer to second base on his approach to home.

Gil Imber said...

Joyce missed the call!!!!!!!!. The arm sign for obstruction is with his arms above his head like calling a foul ball. all he did was point to the bag. He even got that wrong.
Watch the reply he was watching the ball down the line rather than watching the un normal process to home plate by Craig.
Read the rule: NORMAL PATH TO THE NEXT BASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT WAS NOT NORMAL.

Gil Imber said...

You're thinking of Obstruction A. This is Obstruction B. Also, I notice your usage of the word "normal," claiming it is somehow part of the obstruction rule. Relevant rules are posted above and suffice it to say, "normal" does not appear. For that matter, neither do baseline nor base path.

Gil Imber said...

Clearly you haven't actually watched the replay.

Gil Imber said...

Please watch the replay, then try your comment again.

Gil Imber said...

Please enlighten me: What does "normal" have to do with obstruction?

Gil Imber said...

If Craig was out by a wide margin, would the umpires rule him out at the plate? Safe at the plate? Send him back to 3rd?

Gil Imber said...

If the umpires deem he would not have reached home if the obstruction had not occurred, then he would not be awarded home, and the result of the play would stand as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. If he was tagged out, he would remain out. If he returned to third untagged, he would remain there.

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