About the other game-ending obstruction call, involving Devil Rays and Mariners
Watching the odd scene at the controversial ending to Saturday's World Series game, Rays third-base coach Tom Foley could relate to the uncertainty that surrounded the obstruction call that gave the Cardinals the 5-4 win.
Nine years ago, in the last and potentially only other modern-era MLB game to end on a walkoff obstruction call per baseball-reference.com, Foley had a similar feeling when the umpires cited Mariners SS Jose Lopez for obstructing Carl Crawford's view from third base of a fly ball being caught in leftfield and awarded him home, giving the Devil Rays an unusual 2-1 victory.
"It's just one of those things,'' Foley said Sunday. "You hate to lose it that way, but you love to win it.''
Foley hadn't thought of the Aug. 6, 2004, play until we talked - "I wouldn't have even remembered it if you hadn't asked me about it,'' he said - but quickly recalled how unusual the ruling was.
"That's the only time I'd ever seen that called, obstruction for blocking the view of the runner,'' Foley said. "A lot of guys do it. ... A lot of people teach it.''
With Crawford in position to tag up on Tino Martinez's fly to leftfielder Raul Ibanez, Mariners 3B Willie Bloomquist drifted out to serve as a cutoff man and 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 - as 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."
The Mariners, naturally, were extremely upset, manager Bob Melvin adamant there was no obstruction and branding it "the worst call I've ever seen.''
The Rays were a bit confused - "I was wondering what was going on,'' Crawford said then - but quite pleased with the result.
Kind of like what Foley saw watching Saturday night's game on TV, as Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks was called for a more physical kind of obstruction after St. Louis' Allen Craig tripped over him following an errant throw to third, then stumbled home and was called safe even though the ball beat him.
"What a wild finish, huh?'' Foley said. "I saw the first celebration, the Red Sox going crazy thinking they got a double play. Then I saw the Cardinals celebrating. But it was the right call. Even though he didn't have intent - we don't know that - but we saw his feet come up. But (the umps) got it right. It was the right call. Wild.''