Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has a written a terrific long read about the end of World Series Game 3, the game that ended with that now-famous obstruction call that gave the Cardinals the win. It was just the 2nd game in modern history, regular or postseason, to end on any sort of obstruction call.
Stark interviews everyone involved, Middlebrooks, Saltalamacchia, Craig, Farrell, and Matheny, but the real stars of the piece are home plate umpire Dana DeMuth and third base umpire Jim Joyce. It’s interesting to hear them walk through their thoughts as the play unfolded.
Umpire DeMuth, you’ll recall from Game 1 of the Series, was stationed at second base when Cardinals Pete Kozma fumbled a catch and DeMuth’s out call was overturned by the other umpires. I found his commentary on that play, and botched calls generally, particularly poignant:
“In the first game of the World Series last year, I’m at second base. And that still goes through my mind. How in the hell, in the first inning, did I miss that call [on Kozma]? And I thank the Lord every single day … that I had partners that said the same thing: ‘Holy mackerel. How did you miss that call?’ [Laughs.] … There’s nothing more [painful] than going home after a ballgame, laying in your hotel room, sitting in there, all alone, and that feeling you’ve got in your gut, knowing that ‘Oh my God, how did I miss that? Why did I call that?’ And that lays in your gut for days. Now, to have the opportunity to make that all right, it’s easier to swallow. You know what I mean?”
Stark’s thesis is that, with the advent of more instant replay, the obstruction call in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series is one of the last great calls of baseball (though obstruction calls aren’t eligible for review just yet).
You won’t find much in the way of umpire criticism generally on RSNStats. Sure, there’s always a few questionable actions, but the good far, far outweighs the bad. As we know, Game 3, fortunately, did not decide the outcome of the Series. And with the benefit of that knowledge it’s fun to take another look back at the exciting 2013 Series as we gear up for the 2014 campaign.