The 2013 World Series took a strange twist in Game 3 when a controversial obstruction call handed the St. Louis Cardinals a victory over the Boston Red Sox and a 2-1 lead in the series.
The play came on a bizarre series that at first appeared to end the ninth inning with two consecutive outs at home plate.
It came in the bottom of the ninth inning, when the Cardinals had men on second and third with one out. Jon Jay hit a hard ground ball that Dustin Pedroia stopped with a diving catch, throwing out Yadier Molina at the plate
But catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then tried to throw to third to catch Allen Craig and third baseman Will Middlebrooks could not corral the throw, which went into left field.
Craig then broke toward home plate, but got tangled with the sprawled-out Middlebrooks. Saltalamacchia tagged Craig before he could reach the plate, but the game had already ended.
Third-base umpire Jim Joyce ruled that Middlebrooks impeded with Allen Craig as he attempted to score, and Craig was automatically awarded home plate and the winning run.
The obstruction call was blasted by Boston Red Sox fans on social media, with many believing that Middlebrooks did nothing to intentionally interfere with Craig.
#redsox got robbed. It’s not obstruction when a fielder is fielding his position.
— Alexander Solomita (@BeardedMetsBro) October 27, 2013
— Amber Lee (@blamberr) October 27, 2013
Boston Red Sox players were angry about the obstruction call as well.
Angry Peavy rants about call: ‘Absolute joke’ http://t.co/ZoOSniEO16
— ESPNBoston (@ESPNBoston) October 27, 2013
Though controversial, the rule was applied correctly. Here is the relevant section from Official Rules of Major League Baseball, Section 2.00, Definition of Terms:
“Obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.
“Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment:… After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the ‘act of fielding’ the ball. For example, an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.”
To give some perspective on how bizarre the ending was, there have been 56 times a World Series game has ended without an out, but the 2013 World Series Game 3 was the first time ever one of those games ended on an obstruction call.