October 28, 2013

On Baseball: Good call, ump

The Red Sox argued the call that ended Game 3 in St. Louis, but the rules offer little leeway.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS — The call remained the talk of the town Sunday.

Even walking into church in the morning, I caught parts of various conversations from local parishioners.

“They called it obstruction.”

“Intent doesn’t matter.”

“I was so confused.”

To that last comment, a few of us could add an “amen.”

The play ended when Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia tagged Allen Craig well before the Cardinal reached home plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied. Saltalamacchia held up his glove to show umpire Dana DeMuth he still had the ball, only to watch DeMuth signal Craig safe.

St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright watched it all, stunned.

“People started running out on the field. I didn’t know what happened, but I was running on the field, too,” Wainwright said. “I got about halfway out there and saw Craig out by a couple feet … and they called him safe.

“I thought, ‘wow, I think I’ve just witnessed the worst call in the history of the game at home plate.’

“Then I found out there was obstruction.”

The call, in case you’re just now tuning into this World Series, was made back at third base, where Will Middlebrooks was sprawled on the dirt after trying to catch Saltalamacchia’s errant throw.

Craig tripped over Middlebrooks on the way to home plate. Daniel Nava backed up the play, and his throw home easily beat Craig.

Red Sox players fist-pumped after believing they escaped a St. Louis threat.

“Nava did a great job,” Boston pitcher Jon Lester said. “Made a great throw to Salty and everybody is yelling, ‘hey, we just got out of a jam.’ We’re pretty pumped. We’re going to the 10th. We’ve got a chance.

“Home umpire is signaling safe. Then it’s shock.”

The Red Sox argued, but the rules offer little leeway. Middlebrooks got in Craig’s way, so Craig got the extra base – in this case, home plate, for the winning run of a World Series game.

Wainwright said he is glad his team won, but didn’t like how.

“As a baseball fan, you hate to see a game end like that,” he said. “Obviously, I’m on the Cardinals, so I’m fortunate the rule is the way it is.

“But I totally understand why Red Sox players would be upset about that. That’s just a horrible way to lose a baseball game.”

It took a while for it to sink in with the Cardinals.

“I think our fans didn’t even know what to do,” St. Louis Manager Mike Matheny said. “We were wanting to celebrate, but we see a guy laying there and it’s all confusing.

“And we see the umpires come together, and that didn’t work out real good for us the last time.”

Matheny referred to a call that was reversed in Boston’s favor in Game 1.

“We’re all kind of cautious celebrating,” Matheny continued, “and then we get inside the clubhouse, and it was still kind of a somber mood. And Chris Carpenter yelled out real loud, ‘Hey boys, we just won a World Series game.’ So that changed it a little bit.”

Across the way, the Red Sox were dealing with the shock and the loss.

On Sunday, Boston Manager John Farrell looked tired when he met the press.

Asked when he got to sleep, he quipped, “who slept?”

While Farrell said Saturday night that the call was “a tough pill to swallow,” he said Sunday that “the call was accurate.”

But Farrell would like to see the rule tweaked. As it is now, intention is not factored into the call. So it did not matter that Middlebrooks fell down and could not get out of Craig’s way.

“There needs to be some area (in the rule) for intent,” Farrell said.

As it is now “it doesn’t matter if there is intent or not. When Will Middlebrooks is lying on his stomach, it’s hard to say that he was intending to impede that runner’s progress.”

Maybe the rule gets altered, maybe not. It doesn’t matter for this World Series. The call went against Boston.

Thankfully, the Red Sox have won a couple of recent Series, in 2004 and ’07, or we’d be hearing all about curses and other nonsense.

Instead, the Red Sox are talking about rebounding.

“If we let that affect us,” Lester said, “we’ve already been beat.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:kthomas@pressherald.comTwitter: ClearTheBases

 

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