Game 3

So, as many of you hopefully know by now, there was a very controversial ending to Game 3.  here is a slight recap:

Tied up, 4-4, bottom 9. 1 out

Yadier Molina singles off Brandon Workman.

Allen Craig doubles, men on second and third.

Infield in.  Jon Jay hits hard grounder to Dustin Pedroia.  Pedroia makes a diving grab, throws home.  Jarrod Saltalamcchia applies the tag to Molina.  Craig advancing to third.  Saltalamcchia makes an errant throw to Will Middlebrooks at third, whom dives for the ball, but it gets past him.  Craig tries to advance home, but gets tripped up over Middlebrooks’ outstretched body.  Daniel Nava from right field throws Craig out at the plate, but third base umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction on Middlebrooks, awarding Craig home.  Cardinals win, 5-4, taking 2-1 lead in the World Series.

Middlebrooks-Obstruction

Here is the official definition of obstruction:

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: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. 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: If 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.

Here is the full video of the play

According to the rulebook, Middlebrooks was obstructing the play, even though it was not intentional, nor did he have anywhere to go.  Also, Craig was out of the base path when he tripped over Middlebrooks, but in a post game press conference, umpire Jim Joyce stated that the base path is the direct path from the play to the base.

There were many factors that led to this ending, many of which could have been avoidable.

These are some, mentioned by Matthew Pouliot of NBC’s HardballTalk.com:

– Craig scored because Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whom manager John Farrell forgot to take out of the game, made a wild throw to third that Will Middlebrooks, a mid-game replacement, couldn’t grab because he was more concerned with staying on the base than getting in front of the ball.

– Craig drew the throw to third because he got a terrible jump off second on Jon Jay‘s grounder, freezing on the play even though he wasn’t supposed to be involved at all; he should have simply ran to third as soon as he saw Yadier Molina take off ahead of him. Had that happened, there’s no throw at all.

– Molina, who had the first hit of the inning, got his hit because Shane Victorino was playing no-doubles defense in right field. Had Molina hit the same ball in the sixth inning, there’s a good chance it would have been caught.

– Molina’s hit came off Brandon Workman, who actually got to hit in the top of the ninth in a tie game. Because manager John Farrell forgot to double-switch in the bottom of the eighth and have David Ross replace Saltalamacchia.

– That’s because Farrell wanted Workman to pitch two innings because he burned through his second and third best relievers, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa, in the seventh.

– And that’s because Breslow gave up an infield single to Matt Carpenter on a ball that might have been handled by Stephen Drew at shortstop, except Drew had just replaced by a pinch-hitter. Breslow then hit Carlos Beltran on the elbow pad with a pitch. Beltran made no motion to avoid it, yet was awarded the base anyway. Had things turned out a bit differently in that frame and Breslow had stayed in, perhaps Craig would have pinch-hit then and not even have been available for the ninth. And had Farrell been able to get through the seventh using only one of Breslow or Tazawa, there’s a good chance Uehara finishes the eighth or is at least in there to start the ninth, since Farrell would still have one more guy he trusted in reserve.

– Middlebrooks was in the game because left-hander Kevin Siegrist pitched the seventh. Had Siegrist not given up a homer to David Ortiz in Game 1, he’s probably the choice to pitch to Ortiz and Daniel Nava in the sixth rather than Randy Choate. Because while manager Mike Matheny definitely wanted a lefty to face Ortiz, he didn’t want to risk Choate on the switch-hitter Nava; Siegrist would have been a much better choice to face him. And had Siegrist pitched then, Drew likely stays in to hit against a right-hander the following inning.

– Should I keep going? If Kolten Wong doesn’t steal second on a 2-1 pitch in the eighth, Beltran isn’t intentionally walked to send up Matt Holliday. Either Beltran could have done something good or he would have made an out, meaning Holliday would have started the ninth and the whole dynamic would have changed again.

– Blow it all up… the Cardinals were probably one hit away from knocking Jake Peavy out in the first inning tonight. Had that happened, not only might they have cruised to a victory, but it would have affected the whole Game 4 dynamic as well.

Farrell had Ross, Napoli, and Berry available to pinch hit, yet decided to stick with Workman to bat in the top of the 9th inning, who, as surprising as it is, struck out.

This is the first time in postseason history that a game has ended on an obstruction call.  According to an unofficial look by Baseball  , obstruction has been called twice in the postseason.  Game 4 of the 1986 NLCS between the Mets and Astros and in Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS between the Athletics and Red Sox.  They found one game that ended on an obstruction call: a 2-1 victory by the Devil Rays over the Mariners on August 6, 2004.

All of this is very interesting.  Controversial?  I don’t think so, according to the rulebook.  I’m sure many people find controversy over it, but they have not read the rulebook or Rule 2.00 at the least.

Please feel free to leave you thoughts in the comments and take the poll.

-Ricky

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Sox Clean Up Mess Left by Cards

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The Cardinals sure weren’t flying high in Boston. The Redbirds lost 8-1 on Wednesday night.

Sloppy mistakes by the defense and the Red Sox capitalizing on them gives the Sox momentum heading into Game 2.

Cardinals SS Pete Kozma made the most notable errors of the game. Passive mistakes like misplaying a ball hit to his backhand and not catching the double-play flip left St. Louis playing from behind.

In the second inning, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina gave another example of how the team was not on the same page. A high hit pop-fly to the mound fell in between the two due to a lack of communication.

“I don’t think it could have gone stranger,” Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter said, “or any worse.”

The Cards uncharacteristic play was not the only theme of the game. Boston came up in big spots, such as Mike Napoli’s big double, and David Ortiz’s more subtle sacrifice fly.

“At least I got an RBI and we were up four and got the momentum,” Ortiz said.

MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds said before the series that he prefers the Cardinals’s talent over the veteran presence of the Red Sox. That turned out to be false when the young pitchers of the Cardinals collapsed under pressure.

Cardinals relief pitcher Kevin Siegrist was the best example of youth on the mound, as he left a fastball up for David Oritz, something you do not do.

Overall, the moral of the story in Game 1 was that it is good to have a certain approach against your opponent. Boston had one by battling all night long, forcing Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to go to his bullpen 4 times.

Game 2 is 7:30 PM Thursday night in Boston, with John Lackey going against rookie Michael Wacha, who pitched in college just last year. Can the Red Sox take advantage of the rookie mistakes, or will the Cardinals raw talent wipe that away?

Home Plate Collisions

As recently informed, there has been a new proposal of banning collisions at home plate.  Crazy, right?  This would mean that a runner can only slide into home plate, no collisions or knocking the ball out in any way.  There is a large controversy over this topic.Humbert

I have taken the liberty of choosing some sides of this debate, from you, our followers.

1. This is probably the most said thing, after “no”

“People are making the game way [too] soft, it used to be that people sucked it up and took it like a man, now people just whine and complain”

@albert_29_baez

If this true?  That the game is becoming “too soft”?  I mean, MLB has been making some safety improvements.  But where is the line between “safe” and “soft”?  When will it end?  Pitchers wearing facemasks?  No sliding into first?  It’s like little league all over.  Do collisions truly cause injuries? As I’m sure many of you saw David Ross slam into Alex Avila couple nights ago, was that too much?  Avila seems to be alright, although, sitting here watching Game 6 of the ALCS, Avila certainly is taking a beating back behind the dish.  I’m sure many of you remember Buster Posey breaking his leg and tearing three ligaments after being collided into by Miami’s Scott Cousins.  Posey certainly wouldn’t have missed the rest of that season if there was a ban on home plate collisions.  I’ll list a couple more injuries:

1. Buster Posey – broken leg

2. Humberto Quintero – sprained ankle

3. Ray Fosse – fractured shoulder

4. Brian McCann – sprained ankle

5. Johnny Estrada – concussion

6. Gary Bennett – torn MCL

7. Bobby Wilson – concussion

Were all of these injuries worth “the guts to run into a guy” (@the_real_slim_jd) or the ability that “plate collisions can make a game exciting” (@alex_sauriol)?  Or would it have been manageable to watch those games that possible ended those catchers’ seasons having “what makes baseball fun” (@Jamie_minchin5)?  Personally, I would rather have seen Buster Posey finish out his season than end it for “part of the fun” (@bryanmelvin20_26).

2. Where will it stop?

“That’s what makes baseball exciting. Next they will be taking away double play break up slides at second and then put a net to protect the hitters from being hit by pitchers.  Why don’t they all just hold hands and sing songs.”

@jjohnson8895

That is a very valid point you have made there.  I suppose there isn’t much of a difference between break up slides and collisions.  Both are made to hit the fielder, possibly injure them.  Both are unnecessary for the purpose of reaching the base.  The runner could slide into home and he would reach home plate in the same time, if not faster, than if he collided with the catcher.  Same thing in a break up slide at second base.  In a collision, the sole purpose is to hit the catcher as hard as possible in hopes of knocking the ball out.  C’mon man. Does anyone see a problem in this logic?  Maybe talk of banning collisions aren’t so bad, afterall.  The only major aspect of the game it would be taking away is injuries.  I mean, seriously.  How often do you see a collision at the plate? I have seen one all year, and the catcher got injured in it.  I can’t imagine anyone out there is seeing them on a regular basis, and if they are, I guarantee that 95% of the time, the catcher (or runner, in Miguel Cabrera’s instance) has received some sort of injury, as minor as it may be.

I suppose that it is “about damn time” (@icekube73) for some change in the game.  Overall, I don’t think you will miss anything besides your starting catcher being on the DL during your fantasy or regular baseball season.

-Ricky