Seriously. They couldn’t have planned this any better. In two consecutive games, the most important, controversial, talked about play was the last one of the game. Everyone who went to work today to talk about the games with their coworkers needed to have watched the whole game. How could anyone not stay up and watch the whole darn thing tonight? You might be completely lost tomorrow. You might just miss THE play. Why would you risk it? It’s perfect for FOX.
So, about those two games. They were pretty incredible. Back and forth. Huge pitching performances. Timely hitting. The games had it all. Too bad the Sox aren’t up 3-1.
Which they might have been was it not for the call in game three. An absolutely terrible obstruction call. I know I’m probably late to the party. But, I was waiting a bit to hopefully let the dust settle and become a bit more objective. But, it didn’t work. It was a terrible call then, and now I think it’s even worse.
Everyone keeps talking like it’s a black and white rule because it doesn’t mention intent. But, check out the last line of the example given right in the rule. It says that a fielder who dives for a ball, and stays on the ground in the runner’s way has “very likely” committed obstruction. Very likely. Not “has” but “very likely has.” It’s not cut and dry. It obviously allows for the fielder to dive and be in the way of the runner without it being obstruction. There’s obviously umpire judgment allowed. So, what are some cases where it wouldn’t be obstruction? If this case wasn’t one of those “exceptions” I don’t know what would be. When a runner runs the wrong way to create contact with a fielder lying on the infield grass? If that’s not a time to not make the call, when is? Did you hear the umpire Q & A following the game with Torre? He read the rule for the crowd…but obviously was reading it cold. When he got to the “very likely” part, you could see his whole demeanor change. Like he suddenly realized it wasn’t black and white after all.
It also annoys me that Joyce made the call for all the “wrong” reasons. At the press conference he mentioned that the runner has the right to use the baseline. But, Craig had the whole baseline open, and chose not to use it. They had to come to his rescue and talk about the runner establishing the baseline as opposed to the, you know, actual baseline. So, if the runner takes a wide turn rounding third, the baseline follows him. Weird that the runner can also decide to establish a baseline going in the wrong direction directly towards the fielder for no apparent reason. Joyce also said he made the call because Craig was literally on the chalk. Obviously he was nowhere near the chalk. Basically everyone else at the table spent the whole interview telling people to ignore what the person who made the call thought. So, he blew the call he thought he was making, but everyone let him off the hook by pretending he had gotten it right anyway. Bogus.
As for the ending of last night, that’s just terrible. There are any number of reasons why a player might take a big lead at first base. Steal the base. Try to eliminate the force out. Enable you to go first to third on a single, or help you score on a double. There’s nothing wrong with getting yourself into position to make a play.
Until you get picked off to end the game with the second best postseason hitter in the series at the plate.
So, the series stands tied with three left. The Sox need to win two out of three, with two games at home, and games started by Lester and Lackey. You have to like the situation. While it’d probably be wrong to look back at game one and say the Sox should take tonight’s game…at least you know there’s a blueprint on how to do it. And, the last time Lackey and Wacha met up, a throwing error decided the game. As Johnny Gomes pointed out last night, the Sox have stopped throwing to third. (By the way, I don’t blame Salty for the wild throw. He saw a slow runner going to third, and took a good chance. If Molina doesn’t kick his foot as Salty is making the throw, I bet the ball doesn’t end up in left field. Nothing he could do about that.) Obviously, I hope the Sox just get it over with in the next two games. Based on games one and two, I like their chances.
Sox in six.