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Letter: Fix baseball’s obstruction rule

The umps got the call that ended Game 3 of the World Series correct, given baseball’s obstruction rule as it exists today. But I see a problem with the rule. It says “(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.” But “very likely” doesn’t mean certain. When would this scenario not yield interference?

I agree that the fielder’s intent is irrelevant – but only within the base path. The runner owns the base path, and if the obstruction occurs within the base path, end of story. In Game 3, however, Allen Craig tripped over Will Middlebrooks 3 feet inside the chalk. A fielder shouldn’t be penalized for being on the ground outside the base path, nor should a runner be allowed to stray from the base path and involve himself in a collision. (I’m not saying Craig did that intentionally here.)

The obstruction rule should require that the runner’s progress be delayed within the base path, in which case the call is automatic; otherwise, intent to obstruct must be in evidence.



Legacy Comments1

I don't agree Frank. Most of the baseline dirt path is very narrow, like at the halfway point between third and home, or home and first. If you were to extend the narrow dirt width of the baseline all the way from home plate to third base, and had none of the wide area of dirt found around the bases of the infield, Craig's right knee (at the least) would have hit within that dirt after he tripped. 3 feet is not the truth, it was less. He tripped over Middlebrook's legs at the knees, while Middlebrook's cleats are in line with third base. I don't think Middlebrook's shins are 3+ feet long. The umps got the call spot on, and there is nothing that needs changing. Would Craig have beat the throw to home if he hadn't tripped? The answer is likely yes, unless he is a slow base runner.

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