This World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals has been peculiar. Game 3 ended on a walk-off obstruction call and Game 4 closed on a pickoff at first base. If you aren't privy to the events, in the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals up to bat, a ball was hit to Red Sox second basemen Dustin Pedroia, who threw it to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia tagging out Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina running home from third. Immediately after, Saltalamacchia threw to third in an attempt to get out Cardinals first basemen Allen Craig sliding into third. The ball slipped past Red Sox third basemen Will Middlebrooks, and Craig took off for home. He tripped over the diving Middlebrooks and was unable to beat the throw home.
The Red Sox thought they had gotten the out, but home-plate umpire Jim Joyce determined, correctly, that had Middlebrooks not obstructed his path, Craig would have made it home safely.
What an unconventional play, let alone an ending to a championship game. This was the first time a World Series game was decided by an obstruction.
If you watch the video, and I suggest you do, the call seems like it could go either way. But based on the official MLB rule, it was absolutely the correct call:
OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner. Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the “act of fielding” the ball. For example: 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.
By this description, the right call was made, something that seems to be rare among umpires these days.
This alone was enough to make everyone scratch their heads, but the weirdness continued into Game 4.
In the bottom of the ninth, St. Louis' Kolten Wong was put in as a pinch runner with two outs to go. A pinch runner's job is easy: Don't get out, and get in scoring position. Wong did neither.
With a 1-1 count, Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara threw to first, catching the leaning Wong. This was the first time a game ended on a pickoff in the October Classic.
Although this series wasn't pegged as an exciting contest, the way it played out has made it sensational - certainly one for the history books.