Let’s Talk Obstruction

Or as Tim McCarver and 85% of baseball announcers say “interference”. Obstruction is one of the most misunderstood rules in the game. in reality it is not all that difficult. The problem is that on most of these plays, the runner looks out only to be called safe creating confusion.

Lots of stuff in this video starting with the obstruction. Quite simply, obstruction is when the fielder impedes the runner when he does not have the ball (or is in the act of fielding a throw). Further, obstruction can happen when a play is being made on a runner or when there is not a play (think of a first baseman tripping a runner going for a double with the ball in left field). These instances are handled differently.

The play above is classic obstruction on a runner when a play is being made. The ball is dead immediately. The runner is awarded a minimum of one base beyond his last achieved base no matter which way he was running at the time.

In this play, the runner was obstructed, must be given a base, started out at first base, so his award is second. While it looks odd, this was an easy call.

Since that was easy, let’s move on to the announcers. First of all they know nothing about the rule. Dunn is clearly in the way of the runner without the ball. The runner has to change his path. One of them says that “usually this is not called without contact”. Contact is not part of the definition.

Lastly there is an ejection at the end of this play. Ejections usually occur when a player or coach violates one of the “Ps” in that they are Personal, Profane (more at high school level and below) or Prolonged in their argument. Sure, a player or coach will get tossed for showing up an umpire as well but in general the ejection comes after they have broken one of the rules above.

I thought the umpire did a good job of explaining his call and letting the manager argue it. After a certain point it was clear they were discussing the same points over and over again. Argument became prolonged and it was time to end it. The ejection did not even happen with much fanfare. Sometimes the situations play themselves out.

All in all this is a pretty interesting play and a great example to show for obstruction. This rule is covered on page 63 of RuleGraphics.

 

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