Oct 27

Obstruction Play Handled Perfectly By MLB

In the 109 years the World Series has been played, never has a game ended with a runner scoring on an obstruction play until Saturday night. Let’s hear it for Major League Baseball falling for the flawed reasoning that “you don’t make that call to end a World Series game.’’

Well, why not? It that’s the rule, and that’s what happened, then call it as such. There’s a reason why that rule is in place, so make the correct play. Baseball and its fans deserve as much.

Obstruction play handled perfectly. (AP)

Obstruction play handled perfectly. (AP)

Major League Baseball and its umpires handled everything superbly, with third base umpire Jim Joyce immediately making the call that gave the Cardinals a 2-to-1 Series lead.

The rule dictates “intent’’ is not relevant in making the call, nor should it be. Will Middlebrooks did not get out of the way in time, and consequently Allen Craig stumbled over him and was thereby awarded home.

It just happened to come in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 3, giving the Cardinals a “stumble off’’ victory.

Middlebrooks kept saying after the game that “I had nowhere else to go.’’ It’s surprising how many players, in all sports, don’t know the rules of the games they play.

“Just to go over the rule quickly, obstruction is the act of a fielder obstructing a runner when not in the act of fielding a ball. It does not have to be intent,’’ crew chief John Hirschbeck said. “There does not have to be intent, OK? Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer in any way obstruct the runner. That’s basically the rule.’’

No, that’s not basically the rule. It is the rule.

Middlebrooks could not come up with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s errant throw. Fact. He could not get out of Craig’s way. Fact.

Joyce made the correct ruling, and also a fact, Major League Baseball’s umpires did not hide behind a press release or pool reporter, but had all the principles involved accountable to answer any and all questions.

There weren’t too many complaints as to how the play was hoped, and I would hope MLB learns from that and lets its umpires be more open in addressing significant calls.

Major League Baseball did make the decision to review the rule regarding the issue of intent, but here’s hoping they don’t allow Saturday night’s controversial ending put the burden of having its umpires now judge intent.

Previously, the decision was simple in that either the defender was in the way or he wasn’t. Just because one game ended on an obstruction play, don’t make it so the umpires have to read a defender’s mind.

Jan 07

Jan. 7.10: Very disappointed.

I’m extremely disappointed in my colleagues for not voting Roberto Alomar into the Hall of Fame. Part of the criteria is to dominate your position for an extended length of time, which is what Alomar did at second base in the American League.

Alomar was a player who could beat you in so many ways. He was a five-tool player. A perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner, he was the standard for second basemen during his career.

The only blemish on his resume was the spitting incident with umpire John Hirschbeck. It was out of character and he paid for it. But, he shouldn’t have to pay for it any longer.

He got my vote. He’ll get it again.

Nov 30

Roberto Alomar deserves the Hall ….

It was one moment of uncontrollable action in an otherwise stellar, steady career. Roberto Alomar’s moment came in Toronto, Sept. 27, 1996, while as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, in a flash of blind rage and runaway temper, he spat on umpire John Hirschbeck.

ALOMAR: In better times.

ALOMAR: In better times.


It was stupidity and immaturity, and the moment hung over him the rest of his career, which began in San Diego, and included stops in Toronto (where he won two World Series rings, Baltimore, Cleveland, the Mets and Tampa Bay.

However, it shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame, nor should his brief, unproductive, seemingly mailed-in performance with the Mets.

I covered Alomar for two seasons in Baltimore, and this was a five-tool second baseman who could dominate a game as well as any slugger.

In a game against Boston, he homered, beat out a bunt and stole a base, made a scintillating back-handed diving catch of a line drive, and made a throw I still envision. He was about 70 feet down the right field line for the cutoff, but knowing he had no chance at the runner at home, threw behind the runner rounding third to nail him.

ALOMAR: Ten Gold Gloves.

ALOMAR: Ten Gold Gloves.


He made plays like that all the time and with the game on the line I wanted him up as much as anybody.

Said former teammate Pat Hentgen: “He was just so good at everything. He ran the bases well, he was a clutch hitter, he hit for power, he played tremendous defense, and he made everyone around him better defensively. Just a clutch performer. He always rose to the occasion.”

Except that day in Toronto.

There are several criteria for being a Hall of Famer, but they are subjective to the voter. Alomar gets mine because he dominated his position for over a decade. There was no better second baseman. He went to 12 All-Star Games and won ten Gold Gloves.

Numbers wise, among second basemen, he ranks first in steals, sixth in hits and seventh in runs scored. Just numbers, but when the game was in the balance he dominated.

He’ll get my vote.