|U3 Hallion explains his call to Terry Francona.|
Analysis of the 2014 obstruction play in Anaheim concerned Official Baseball Rule 6.09(a)(10) [then-7.09(j)], which addresses interference, not obstruction, though its interpretation is relevant to obstruction.
OBR 6.09(a)(10) states that interference occurs when [the batter or runner] "fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball, provided that if two or more fielders attempt to field a batted ball, and the runner comes in contact with one or more of them, the umpire shall determine which fielder is entitled to the benefit of this rule, and shall not declare the runner out for coming in contact with a fielder other than the one the umpire determines to be entitled to field such a ball."
|Only one fielder is entitled to protection.|
Earlier this week, in Chicago, for instance, 1B Umpire Vic Carapazza ruled the first baseman was entitled to protection, meaning that the unprotected pitcher illegally impeded the batter-runner's progress.
The Anaheim and Chicago plays set up a wonderful compare-and-contrast model for Saturday's interference play in Cleveland. With none out and runners at first and second base, Indians batter Carlos Santana hit a ground ball between shortstop and third base. Replays indicate that as Yankees third baseman Chase Headley and shortstop Didi Gregorius both charged in to field the slow chopper, Headley collided with baserunner R2 Francisco Lindor, who himself was trying to achieve third base. 2B Umpire Dan Bellino and 3B Umpire Tom Hallion immediately signaled the play dead and Lindor out for Rule 6.09(a)(10) interference, awarding Santana first base and forcing R1 Mike Napoli to occupy second.
|Diagram: The players run along the infield.|
It all comes down to umpire judgment: Both U2 Bellino and U3 Hallion believed that of 3B Headley and SS Gregorius, it was 3B Headley—not Gregorius—who was entitled to protection via 6.09(a)(10). In other words, both umpires believed that F5 Headley was best posited to make a play on the batted ball, meaning that Lindor's contact with Headley while Headley attempted to field the batted ball was in violation of Rule 6.09(a)(10) and, thus, offensive interference.
SIDEBAR: Had the umpires ruled that F6 Gregorius—not Headley—was entitled to 6.09(a)(10) protection, they may have ruled the play obstruction (TYPE 2 / TYPE B, as no play was being made on the runner), and protected R2 Lindor to third base, most likely resulting in a bases-loaded situation when Gregorius fumbled the grounder. Conversely, if Headley was protected but Gregorius was not, and Lindor had run into Gregorius, that too would be eligible for obstruction.
Video: Runner plows into third baseman attempting to field batted ball; INT ruled ("Read more")