The Opening Salvo of
It looked bad there for a while, with
the forces of satan clouding the minds of the officials and corrupting the
tongues of the acolytes, but dogs and cats shall not be living together in sin
any time soon. By which I mean, before
Opening Day of the 2014 baseball season.
Yes, the Cardinals lost the World
Series. All is right with the baseball
world. For now.
Of course, any true Armageddon would
have a decent god going up against the current reigning satan, and the
Cardinals making it to the post season at
all argues against that. Any god
that could allow a team with as arrogant, conceited, and a self-righteous
asshole fanbase as the Cardinals possess to make it to the playoffs in the
first place when only a well-placed two-game losing streak might have prevented
it is a cruel and sadistic god. And
since the gods of baseball are neither cruel nor sadistic, I contend that they
either do not exist, or have irresponsibly taken time away from their duties to
tend to more pressing matters.
...like convincing the umpires'
union, and those who promote the umpires into it, that there is only one strike
zone: the one defined by the rule book.
Each umpire is not allowed to have his own, regardless whether he is
"consistent" in using it, or whether he - like Angel Hernandez and
Hunter Wendelstedt [and, frankly, every other umpire in the league] - has a
strike zone that wanders around the infield refusing to be nailed down to a
That would be a worthy issue for the
baseball gods to tend to. But it doesn't
seem like they've been working at that, either.
The baseball gods reappeared from
whatever beach resort at which they'd been shirking their duties to preside
over their kingdom ... starting with Game Four.
It was possibly the stench of the end of Game Three which reclaimed
their attention - where the umpires, very literally, handed the game to the
Cardinals, in violation of the rules of baseball.
This statement is sure to arouse
infantile protests from the bemuddled acolytes of the game who prattled on
insufferably and insistently after Game Three.
They regaled all and sundry how giving a game away so everyone could
grab a cold one was a proper thing to do.
To prove them wrong, let us recap the situation:
In a tie game in the bottom of the
ninth inning, a play at third base resulted in the Cardinals baserunner and the
Red Sox third baseman getting tangled up with each other and the ball rolling
off into short left field. The
baserunner picked himself up and attempted to score while the left fielder
scrambled to the ball and threw it to home plate. The baserunner was thrown out by a few light
years. And the umpires colluded to call
obstruction on the part of the Red Sox third baseman, thus awarding the next
base - in this case home plate - to any base runner affected.
The baserunner is safe, the fans can
go home, and the umpires collect their wages from satan.
All the idiot commentary the next day
concluded that the baserunner is entitled to the baseline and any attempt by a
fielder to prevent him from using it shall be called
"obstruction". ...which is
accurate enough, but only one-third of the relevant rule on the matter.
Simultaneous to the baserunner being
entitled to the baseline, the fielder is entitled to make a play and any
attempt by a baserunner or batter to prevent the fielder from making a play
shall be called "interference" and - depending where on the basepaths
it occurs and under what circumstances - the baserunner shall be called out.
And that, too, is accurate as far as
it goes, but does not complete the relevant rules pertaining to the
matter. The final, pertinent rule is
that in the judgment of the umpire
the player called for interference or obstruction shall have acted in a deliberate or avoidable manner. Getting
tangled up is not, in and of itself, enough to justify either obstruction or
In the play in question, any
impartial observer could make an argument that the Red Sox third baseman
obstructed the Cardinals baserunner from advancing on the play. He could also make an argument that the
Cardinals baserunner interfered with the Red Sox third baseman from getting up
to take a throw for a subsequent play.
The impartial observer, being able to
make both of these arguments, would have to look at the situation impartially
and conclude that when both arguments can be made, neither is uniquely valid. It would constitute, in the vernacular of
baseball, an appropriate non-call.
Anyone who spends any amount of time
watching the game of baseball - which obviously excludes umpires for myriad
reasons - is fully aware that baserunners and fielders get tangled up with each
other thousands of times during the normal course of the 2430 regular-season
games each year. A few hundred times a
year, after these players get tangled, play continues which involves one or
both of the players in the tangle. And
several dozen times a year, the runner getting tangled is subsequently called
out, or the fielder getting tangled is unable to make another play ... both of
which, on the surface, would constitute obstruction and interference.
Yet of these few thousand, few
hundred, or several dozen plays occurring each and every season, how many of
them result in obstruction or interference calls?
That's right: zero.
Shall I say that again for the brainless
ESPN chatterboxes, the homer Cardinals broadcasters, and the asshole Cardinals
fans who knew not whereof they prattled last weekend?
Z. E. R. O.
Zip, zilch, nada, bupkus. Zero.
Because the final piece of the rule
requires that it be, in the judgment of
the umpire a deliberate or avoidable act of either the
fielder or baserunner to impede another player.
Players getting tangled with each other in the normal course of play is
nether deliberate nor avoidable. This is
why it takes Reggie Jackson, who stopped running to stick his ass out into the
flight of the baseball, to be called.
This is why it takes Alex Rodriguez, assaulting a first baseman at high
speed down the first base line, to be called.
Those were deliberate and avoidable, both.
Deliberate or avoidable impediments
to play are exceptionally rare, and no one who does not have his head lodged so
far up his ass that he's looking out his own navel can say that the end of Game
Three met the necessary criteria. No
...which perhaps explains why the six
umpires at the game did say that [one
called it, the other five corroborated].
...and why all the rationalizing babblers repeated the lie without so
much as a hint of a question for days after.
Only the Cardinals could win a game
by such a complete and thorough conspiracy of so many umpires putting their
judgment up for sale by forgetting [or ignoring] the rulebook all at once. That many umpires all forgetting [or
ignoring] the rulebook at the same time is proof of the forces of darkness in
the game of baseball. The fact that so
many would be willing to excuse, in public, such a transparent diversion from
the rules attests only to the sway that baseball's satan has.
The wages of these sins is death ...
from sports boredom. Otherwise known as
soccer which is gaining market share.
Repent. Ye have been warned.