Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Opening Salvo of Armageddon

The Opening Salvo of Armageddon
(c)2013  RossWilliams


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 specific location.

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 interference.

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 one.

...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.


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