ST. LOUIS — Watching the odd scene of the controversial ending to Saturday's World Series game, Rays third-base coach Tom Foley could relate to the uncertainty surrounding the obstruction call that gave the Cardinals a 5-4 victory.
Nine years ago, in the last and potentially only other MLB game to end on a walkoff obstruction call, per baseball-reference.com, Foley had a similar feeling as umpires cited Mariners shortstop Jose Lopez for obstructing Carl Crawford's view from third of a fly ball being caught in leftfield and awarded him home, giving the then-Devil Rays a 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 didn't immediately think of the Aug. 6, 2004, play, but when reminded, he 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. A lot of guys do it. … A lot of people teach it."
With Crawford in position to tag up, Mariners third baseman Willie Bloomquist drifted out to be the cutoff and Lopez slid over to cover third. Crawford bluffed a break for home — he was actually retreating to third as Raul Ibanez's throw sailed right to the plate — as third-base umpire Paul Emmel (who happened to be working first base Saturday) made the call and waved him home. Crew chief Joe West said afterward both Lopez and Bloomquist were guilty of attempting to impede Crawford's view.
One team was outraged — "Worst call I've ever seen," M's manager Bob Melvin said — and the other confused then pleased, just like Saturday night at Busch Stadium.
On Saturday in Game 3, Red Sox third baseman 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."