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Bad sports, good sports: World Series game ends on obstruction call

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The St. Louis Cardinals took a two games to one lead over the Boston Red Sox in the World Series on Saturday night. That, in and of itself, is not surprising…these are two good teams and someone had to win game three, right? What made this one unusual was the way the game ended. The winning run scored in the bottom of the ninth on an obstruction call. That’s right, a call by an umpire allowed the final run of a game in the sport’s final series of the season to score despite the fact that the runner was clearly tagged out before he reached home plate. The key to this, of course, and the reason that this is Good Sports, is because it was absolutely the correct call.

As the play began, the Cards had men on second and third and one out. John Jay hit a grounder that second baseman Dustin Pedroia, playing shallow, dove and stopped. He jumped up and threw home to get Yadier Molina. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (how’s that for a name?) then threw to third to try to nab the advancing Allen Craig. The throw was wild and got past third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who dove to try to catch it, and rolled into left field. Craig jumped up and started to run home but immediately tripped over the legs of the prone Middlebrooks. By the time he got up and made it to the plate, left fielder Daniel Nava’s throw was waiting in Saltalamacchia’s glove, and he was out. But no! Umpire Dana Demuth immediately signaled safe, pointing to third base and indicating obstruction. The game was over and the celebration was on. Not for the Sox, though. They lost their minds. The entire umpiring crew agreed with the call, so there would be no dramatic reversal. The Cardinals had won.

It’s true that games not only don’t usually end like this, they don’t even occasionally end like this. I have never seen it before, and the veteran crew of officials said they had never seen it before either. Despite what I have heard from an awful lot of people this weekend, the fact that it does not happen does not in any way mean that the call should not have been made. Most of the aforementioned people also said that if it had happened in the third inning, they would have had no problem with it, but that the game should not have ended that way. I have a huge problem with that whole line of thinking. Why should rules not be enforced at the end of games? In fact, if you were going to change the rules of enforcement at different points in the game, shouldn’t the end be the part of the game where the rules are enforced the most strictly? It seems to me that players are more likely to break rules when they are desperate to win a game they are about to lose, or to protect a win they are about to complete. The popular chant is “let the players play!” Perhaps there should be no rules at all, then.

Now I would hate to see a game end on an incorrect call, but I hate to see incorrect calls at all. It has nothing to do with the point in the game. Replay has allowed some sports to start getting more calls correct, and hopefully all of the major sports will find ways to keep going down this road without making the process too slow and cumbersome. For now, baseball fans should be happy that the correct call was made here. It’s important to note that Middlebrooks did not try to obstruct Craig’s process, but that has nothing to do with the rule. No intent is required to make this an illegal play. Boston fans should be upset because their team lost an important game, but the fact that it ended on a call like this should have nothing to do with their distress.

Good sports, continued:

2) At the end of a column I wrote back in February, I mentioned that Darrell Wallace Jr. was about become only the third African-American to ever have a full-time ride in a major NASCAR series (the truck series, in this case). On Saturday, he took a major step forward, winning the race at Martinsville. The last African-American driver to win in NASCAR was Wendell Scott, and he did it fifty years ago.

3) Octavious McKoy, a running back from Western Connecticut State University, a Division III football team, ran for 455 yards on Saturday in a win over Worcester State. This broke the all-time NCAA record of 441, held by Dante Brown of Marietta since 1996. I am not sure if I find his feat more impressive than the fact that his name is Octavious McKoy, which is just awesome.

4) Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel won his fourth consecutive F1 championship on Sunday when he won the Indian Grand Prix. Amazingly, Vettel is only 26 years old.

5) I never thought much of Terrelle Pryor as a college quarterback. At Ohio State, he seemed to be a great athlete but not much of an actual quarterback. I am still unsure of his long-term pro prospects now that he is with the Oakland Raiders, but he is having a pretty good season since taking over the starter role a few weeks back, and the run he made on the first play of a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday was simply spectacular. He kept the ball on an option play and ran 93 yards for a touchdown, the longest run ever for a quarterback in the NFL.

6) Now Calvin Johnson is a guy whose pro prospects I don’t doubt in the least. The Detroit Lions receiver has consistently proven that he is the best wide receiver in the game, but he took that to another level on Sunday. He had 329 yards receiving in his team’s win over the Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s late heroics were not too shabby either.

7) Zach Hodskins, a high school basketball player from Georgia, has accepted an offer to be a preferred walk-on for the University of Florida. Why is this news? Hodskins was born with one hand. Not too bad.

Bad sports:

1) After losing quarterback Sam Bradford to injury last week, the St. Louis Cardinals actually called retired signal-caller Brett Favre to find out if he was interested in returning to the NFL. Ridiculous. Fortunately, Favre has finally learned how to say no.

2) A Texas high school football coach was accused of bullying by a parent of a player from a team his school beat 91-0 on Friday. The parent had found the form to report bullying on coach Tim Buchanan’s school’s website and filled it out. A state protocol requires a formal investigation into the accusation. Buchanan played his backups and did his best to slow his own team down to keep from embarrassing the other team, and the opposing coach did not have a problem with what occurred. I understand how important these protocols are and how serious an issue bullying is, but this really makes a mockery of the whole thing and I hope the reporting parent is made to understand that.

2) Louis Delmas, a safety for the Detroit Lions, has had to give up his pet alligator, who had gotten too large, at six feet long, to keep in his basement. That’s right, he had a 6-foot alligator in his basement.

3) A parking lot attendant in Philadelphia was found to have been stealing money from Eagles guard Todd Herremans for the past four years. He had apparently stolen over $225,000 dollars after having gotten Herremans’ bank account information from papers left in his car.

4) What’s that? A bunch of soccer fans chanted racist stuff at a player? The hell you say. This time it happened in Moscow, Russia, when Yaya Toure, an Ivory Coast native who also plays for Manchester City, was the subject of the Russian fans’ ire during a Champions League match.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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