Friday, August 06, 2004
Lopez's ploy was not exactly in good sportsmanship, but was it against the rules? According to the Official Rules of Major League Baseball, rule 2.00, obstruction is defined as follows:
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. 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.The first sentence is the key here: 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. According to the rules, no significance is placed on the obstructing player's intent, but just on his effect on the baserunner's progress.
Since Crawford, in the end, could evidently see Ibanez catch the ball, and since he didn't attempt to score on his own (he took a couple of steps toward home plate, then retreated back to third after seeing Ibanez's throw), I don't believe that he was obstructed by Lopez. What Jose Lopez tried tonight in the bottom of the tenth inning was certainly bush league, but I disagree that he was guilty of obstruction, I don't think he should have been charges with an error on the play (he was), and I don't think the winning run should have been awarded as a result of his actions.
Frankly, if I was the Mariners' manager, I would have kicked Lopez's ass after the play. A player should never give even the appearance of violating the rules. That he did so in this case cost his team a game, and that is unforgivable.
And I still don't think obstruction should have been called.