Sunday, October 27, 2013

Missing the Point [Updated]

Regarding game three last night, Red Sox fans can do a lot of second guessing regarding how Farrell managed the game, why the hell did Salty attempt that throw to third base, etc. But all of that guessing misses the point.

The point is to have the game be played and officiated fairly. Period. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. 

When umpires blows call, that's a bad thing - could be a stupid, dumb luck bad thing, but its still bad. What makes the "obstruction" call on Middlebrooks worse than a blown call is that the home plate umpire chose to make it; it was an opinionated judgment call. The rule for obstruction states that if a fielder continues to lie on the ground after attempting to field a ball then he's guilty of obstruction. That sounds cut and dry if you completely discount the fact that Middlebrooks was clearly trying to get up from being on the ground. He wasn't trying to obstruct the play; Craig didn't even trip over Middlebrooks' feet, he tripped over the back of a player clearly trying to get up. 

The umpire didn't have to judge this as obstruction. Additionally, I'd love to see a time during the regular season where that is called obstruction. Joe Maddon has his Devil Rays infielders block second or third base from a baserunner all the time (as I pointed out on October 9) and they never, ever call obstruction on it - and that's intentional obstruction that the Devil Rays start teaching their players to perform when they are still in the minor leagues. So Maddon can issue a strategy to intentionally obstruct baserunners, but when Middlebrooks tries picking himself up off the ground after diving for an errant throw, then the umpires call obstruction? In a pivotal game of the World Series? Really?

That's not fair. Period. 

The umpires chose to make this call; it was not a bad call that they missed. They chose to make a ruling that gave the Cardinals a victory in the World Series - thus tainting the marquee series of baseball. 

When will Major League Baseball fix this horrible, unfair, unbalanced officiating? The umpires have already ruined a perfect game, and they ruined an NL wild card game last season with the worst judgment call ever on the Infield Fly rule. Now the umpires have ruined a World Series. How far is too far before MLB finally fixes their umpire problem?

Update #1: Theh0pester points out that Allen Craig wasn't even in the basepath.

For those of you strict rule book types, MLB Rule 7.08 clearly states the following: "Any runner is out when -- (a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball." Craig is more than three feet away from the baseline, tripping over Middlebrooks who isn't in the baseline.

Why was a silly judgment call on obstruction cited over this very clearly stated rule which requires no opinionated determination on what the fielder was doing? Why cite an ambiguous rule when an unambiguous rule will supersede it? 

Update #2: Joe Torre should be barred from Cooperstown. Since becoming VP of Baseball Operations after he retired from managing the Yankees, baseball's umpires have become insufferable. Why does Joe West still have a job? Why is CB Bucknor allowed to be a punk on the field? Why do I even know the names of these people - umpires aren't supposed to be part of the game! Joe Torre has refused to fix baseball's problem with the umpires, and he continues to let the problem fester. Placing a plaque for Torre in the Hall of Fame would be a disgrace to the sport.

Update #3: This claim by Crew Chief Hirschbeck about Craig establishing his own baseline is laughable: “Don’t forget, the runner establishes his own baseline. If he’s on second on a base hit and rounds third wide, that baseline is from where he is, way outside the line, back to third and to home plate, it’s almost a triangle. So the runner establishes his own baseline.”

Let's go through a lesson in basic math for the benefit of Hirschbeck, since it appears that he needs a refresher. If a baserunner rounds a base wide then he voluntarily places himself at a disadvantage by increasing the amount of distance between him and the base. Craig, however, did not round third base - he tried to give himself a path to home that's shorter than the one provided on the baseline by staying off said baseline; on the infield side of third base. Ironically, if Craig picked the longer path - the path that's actually on the baseline - Middlebrooks wouldn't have been in his way since Middlebrooks was not obstructing the baseline.

Why defend a baserunner who chose a shorter path to home that was offline the baseline, and in the path of a fielder who just dove for the ball? There's no logic in that.
Update #4: In my first update, the part of MLB Rule 7.08 that I quoted might not have been the best example since it discusses actions due to a batted ball. Let's look at the full text for Rule 7.08(a):
7.08 Any runner is out when—
(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely; or
(2) after touching first base, he leaves the base path, obviously abandoning his effort to touch the next base;
Craig's right to establish his own path to homeplate is a hot topic, but from the text of this rule, Craig only has the right to establish a base path when "the tag attempt occurs." Middlebrooks never had the ball so there couldn't have been a tag attempt; therefore the path to the next base must be the baseline. Why wasn't Craig called out for not being on the baseline? Did he intentionally choose to run off the baseline and trip over Middlebrooks to get an obstruction call? If so, then that's a pretty dirty way to play baseball.

No comments:

Post a Comment