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.