June 26, 2022

2022 MLB Examples of Obstruction

Example of Obstruction in Nationals vs Phillies - June 17, 2022

2022 MLB Examples of Obstruction

The Nats hosted the Phils on June 17th in the second game of a doubleheader. The game won by the Phils 8-7, was marred with controversy that led to the ejection of Nats’ manager Dave Martinez.

In the top of the 10th inning with the score tied 6-6, the Phillies had Kyle Schwarber on third and Rhys Hoskins on second with one out when J.T. Realmuto hit a grounder up the middle. Nats’ shortstop Luis Garcia attempted to field the ball to his left when he collided with Hoskins who was running to third. The ball went out to center field where it was fielded by Lane Thomas.

Schwarber scored easily on the play and Hoskins was called out at the plate by umpire Clint Vondrak when he was tagged by catcher Victor Robles who received the throw from Thomas. But the call was changed to “safe” because third base ump John Bacon ruled that Garcia had obstructed Hoskins while attempting to field the ball. The umpires protected Hoskins to third and home, allowing him to score giving the Phillies a two-run lead, 8-6.

Martinez then argude with second base umpire Dan Iassogna contending that Hoskins interfered with Garcia while he was attempting to make a play. The “no interference” call remained, and Martinez was ejected. If interference had been called on Hoskins, he would have been out, and Schwarber would be returned to third base while Realmuto would be allowed to remain at first base. So, the Phils would have had runners on first and third and two outs and the score tied, 6-6 instead of being ahead, 8-6.

Ruleball Comments

  1. Here is a situation where a potential interference call can immediately change to an obstruction violation. Let’s first analyze the “no interference” call by Iasoggna.
  2. Replays indicate the collision occurred as Garcia dove for, and was attempting to field the batted ball; therefore, the right-of-way rules give Garcia priority pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10) that reads, “It is interference by a batter or runner when he fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or unintentionally interferes with a thrown ball…”
  3. But the question here is, did Garcia have a “legitimate” chance to field the ball? This is strictly umpire judgment, and apparently Iasoggna, who was close to the play, adjudged that Garcia did not have a legitimate chance to field the ball.
  4. The reported exit velocity of the batted ball was 78.3 mph, and Realmuto broke his bat on the swing.  The hit probability was 36%. Those numbers certainly increase the likelihood that Garcia could have made a “legitimate” play.
  5. I think the question to ask is, “If there was no runner (Hoskins) in this play, could Garcia have made the play?”
  6. It’s quite possible that Iassogna made the proper “no call,” but would another umpire have called Hoskins out for interference? Probably.
  7. One argument that might favor the interference call is that Hoskins ran in a direct line toward Garcia, instead of reading the location of the Nats’ shortstop and veering away from him. He set himself up for an interference call.
  8. Interference and obstruction calls are non-reviewable but, in my opinion Iassogna should have had the umpires huddle to get other opinions regarding the actions of Hoskins. The umpires could have exercised rule 8.02 (c) which gives them the authority to reverse a call if it is judged that the original call or “non-call” was incorrect.
  9. As for the obstruction call, assuming there was no runner’s interference, now we have a Type 2 obstruction because at the time Garcia and Hoskins collided, there was no play being directly made on Hoskins and it was apparently ruled that Garcia was unable to make a legitimate play on the ball that traveled to center field.
  10. When Type 2 occurs, the umpires are empowered to place the runner to the base he would have made had he not been obstructed. If the runner attempts to advance beyond his protected base, he does so at his own risk.
  11. In the above play, it is my opinion that the umpires should have protected Hoskins to third base, but not home because Hoskins was an easy out at the plate. From my perspective the obstruction did not impact the play at the plate. As for the runner interference, I really don’t have a strong opinion because of the distortion in depth perception when viewing video in such plays.
  12. Interference and obstruction calls are not reviewable. One broadcaster erroneously said, “I don’t know how they’ll rule this play, they’ll probably go to New York on it.”

Summary

I ran this play by a former major league umpire who I greatly respect. Following was his response.

“Need to be on the field for this one. None of the video is conclusive and there is a depth perception issue. My initial reaction is that the runner interfered with the shortstop’s  ability to field the ball. For me, it boils down to interpretation of legitimate and I feel that he did have a legitimate chance to get to the ball. If he gets to the ball, he may have had a chance to make a play at the plate, make a play on R2 at 3rd, on the BR at 1st, or simply prevent the second run from scoring. If Type 2 obstruction was the proper call, I question the award of home. I think this was a coaching error sending him home with the ball in short CF.”

 

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  D’backs, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, Bally Sports, ESPN, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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