Readers suggest that blocking a runner’s view in this situation (runner’s looking to tag) may be an ” approved ruling” which would mean that even though it’s not in the rule, it’s an accepted interpretation of the rule. I’m not accepting this argument for two reasons:
– many approved rulings are in the rules, and noted as such. This may be a situation where case law (for lack of a better term) indeed supports this view, but it’s still not in the rules
– the ump didn’t see it anyway. He clearly wasn’t looking, Crawford clearly did see the catch, even if he had to look around someone’s shoulder, and this is a case where the penalty is so high that it should demand clear evidence that intentionally or not Crawford’s view of the catch was substantially impeded by a fielder. Which it wasn’t.
It was a terrible call and remains a terrible call.
I’m sometimes known as a bit of a rules stickler, because I am. I read the rulebook a lot. I spend a lot of time thinking about baseball’s rules. So when I say this, I want to be entirely clear:
Last night’s call was a load of crap.
The ump blew it. You can see on the replay that he wasn’t even looking at Crawford-Bloomquist-Lopez when there would have been obstruction, he was watching Ibanez. Crawford was entirely out of view and the ump only looked at third when Crawford was returning. He would have only noticed something if Bloomquist had shot Crawford. But when Crawford came back, he figured something had happened and called obstruction. I believe everything they’ve said since then — Emmel, the whole crew — has been justification for that initial mistake for Emmel.
Here’s the concept of interference and obstruction:
A fielder has a right to get to the ball. A runner who gets in the way of a fielder trying to get to a ground ball is out.
Conversely, the runner has the right to go around the bases. If you stand in front of a runner on their way to third and stop him, you must have the ball to make a play, or he gets one (or more) bases.
No runner or fielder has the right to a good view of the game. John Olerud sometimes played this game, where at first he’d hold a runner on and then lead exactly as much as the runner did, blocking the runner’s view of home, so if the catcher dropped a ball or whatnot, the runner would have to hesitate a second (for the signal from the first-base coach or Olerud to break back to first) before knowing where to run. Small, heads-up baseball… entirely legal.
Obstruction and interference don’t have to be intentional to occur. This seems to be a point of contention in some of the press coverage. If you’re running and don’t see the ball ricochet off the pitcher and you get in the way of the second baseman, that’s still interference.
Beyond the thought that obstruction did not occur, Crawford should not have been awarded home. It was a shallow fly, and Crawford didn’t get anywhere on it. Obstruction requires that the runner would have gottent to the next base had obstruction not occurred… which it didn’t, and Crawford wouldn’t have gone home anyway.
So, to sum up:
– Call of obstruction wrong
– Awarding of base wrong
M’s lose. I frequently compliment the umps who work major league games — as a whole, they’re dramatically better than the guys who were out there say ten years ago. But this makes me so angry: they not only blew a call, they then told the players and Melvin one thing, which was the on-the-spot of why they were wrong, held to it, and then issued an official statement later which expanded the justification and lied some more. I understand they’re going to get calls wrong. But this one was so huge, and thier conduct afterwards so baffling, that I think the crew ought to be suspended. If they can’t put forward an honest account of what happened and their reasoning for doing so, they shouldn’t be out there.
“He was safe!”
“He beat the throw!”
“Aliens slowed time so the throw got here earlier than you saw!”
“He bea– what?”
John Hickey’s PI game recap about this is well-written and even includes the text of the rule.