Game three of the 2013 World Series ended in one of the more bizarre ways I’ve ever seen a game end. Granted, Mariners fans are used to seeing games end in bizarre ways. We saw games end because of a wild pitch, bases loaded walk, errors on routine plays, etc. But Game Three between the Cardinals and Red Sox ended on an obstruction call.
Boston’s 3B Will Middlebrooks was called for an obstruction call as St. Louis’ Allen Craig tripped over him trying to score. Craig was tagged out but obstruction was called, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 win Saturday night.
I had never seen anything like it. But it has happened before. Nine years ago, in the most recent and according to Baseball-Reference.com, the only time in modern history it has happened, the Seattle Mariners lost a game to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (yes, they were still the Devil Rays) on an obstruction call.
On August 6, 2004, in the bottom of the 10th inning in Tampa, Carl Crawford was on third with the bases loaded, one out and former Mariner Tino Martinez at the plate. With Crawford tagging up on Martinez’s fly to leftfielder Raul Ibanez, Mariners 3B Willie Bloomquist drifted out to serve as a cutoff man and SS Jose Lopez slid over to cover third. Crawford bluffed a break for home – he was actually retreating to third as Ibanez’s throw sailed right to the plate – when 3B umpire Paul Emmel made the obstruction call and waved him home.
Crew chief Joe West said afterward both Lopez and Bloomquist were guilty: “In this case both the shortstop and third baseman attempted to impede the runner from seeing when the ball was caught by screening him from the play. When they made that play on him (Ibanez’s throw), because of the obstruction, you have to score him. That’s the rule.”
Mariners manager Bob Melvin was adamant there was no obstruction and branded it “the worst call I’ve ever seen.”
Now, the call in the World Series was more of an actual, physical obstruction where as the one involving the Mariners was more of a visual obstruction. Regardless, it is the only other time in modern-day baseball history where it occurred.
Of course it involved a Mariners loss.