On Oct. 26, the World Series Game 3 between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals was tied 4-4 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Since the game was in St. Louis, the Cardinals had a chance to win the game as they were coming up to bat. With Brandon Workman on the mound for the Red Sox, Matt Adams stepped up to the plate with an immense amount of pressure.

Workman made easy work of Adams by striking him out swinging. The next batter, Yadier Molina, singled to right field to put the winning run on base. At this point, Red Sox manager John Farrell opted to put closer Koji Uehara in the game to pitch. Up until this point, Uehara had been lights-out in the postseason and posted an ERA under 1.00.

The first batter he faced, Allen Craig, doubled to left field and sent Molina to third base. The next batter up was Jon Jay and for lack of better wording, things just got crazy in his at-bat. Jay grounded into a fielder’s choice at second base, but Molina still ran to home plate from third base. The throw home was successful and Molina was tagged out.

However, in the same play, Craig ran to third base. In an attempt to get Craig out at third, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (now say his name five times fast) threw to third baseman Will Middlebrooks. The throw was low and sent Middlebrooks to the ground as the ball rolled onto the outfield grass.

As Craig attempted to get up and run home, he found himself toppled over the fallen Middlebrooks and was slowed down by the man he just fell over. The throw home from left field was on time and Craig was clearly out. However, he was declared safe by umpire Jim Joyce on account of obstruction by Will Middlebrooks.

Just like that, the Cardinals were winners of this game at a score of 5-4. They were then leading 2-1 in the World Series. The Cardinals players and coaches were ecstatic as they ran out of the dugout and onto the field to embrace Craig, the winning runner. On the other side, Red Sox manager John Farrell and his players were furious at the moment with Joyce for making such a controversial call. Regardless, the Cardinals were champions on what is one of the most rare play calls in World Series history.

Let’s take a look at the rule of obstruction according to the official MLB rulebook. “If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out.”

So, according to this rule, Craig scored as he should have and things are just peachy for the Cardinals. But was Middlebrooks actually interfering Craig on his way to home plate? Yes, he was flopped over in front of third base, but that was because he dove for the ball that missed his glove and rolled into the outfield.

Though, while Craig was running home, Middlebrooks stayed on the ground for a few seconds and made no attempt to move. Also, it appeared that he raised his feet up in the air as the runner was attempting to leap over him. Unless I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, that is not the first step towards getting up from a fall.

I vividly remember watching this game on Saturday with some of my friends. As soon as the obstruction call was made, two of them got into an uproar over why the call was right or wrong. “Middlebrooks was in his way. He even kicked his feet up to stop Craig,” was the argument for why it was right and, “Middlebrooks fell over because he was diving for the ball. He did nothing wrong,” was the argument for why it was wrong.

At this point, I addressed the both of them and said that whatever arguments they made would not change the game, so cut it out. The umpires are the only ones who get to call these baseball games. Not the fans. Not the coaches. Not the management. The umpires. Say what you will about Jim Joyce based on his previous umpiring errors, but this guy knows when to admit that he’s wrong.

Let’s not forget that back in 2010, after Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was denied a perfect game on a wrong call at first base by Jim Joyce, the umpire realized his blatant err. After that game, Joyce addresses both Galarraga and the media and tearfully told them that his call was wrong and apologized for it. So, if Joyce feels that he made the right call in this World Series game, I sincerely believe him.

And while fans are still in upheaval over the controversial call, Red Sox manager John Farrell (who should be the most angry person in the world over the call) said in a post-game interview with USA Today that “We don’t like it, but that’s the rule we play under.” While the manager is not a fan of the obstruction rule, he realizes that it is a part of baseball and has no quarrel over how it was used in this game.

I just wish that patrons of baseball would act in a more civil manner like Farrell has. You can babble all you want about the call, but the umpires made it because they felt it properly represented the rules outlined by the MLB and nothing can be done about it.

Would using video replay have helped in this situation? Maybe. Regardless, the Cardinals should be thankful that Obstruction rule 7.06 is in existence since it helped them win a game in the most epic baseball series of them all, the World Series.

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---- Senior | Editor-in-Chief Emeritus ---- Journalism/Communication

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