MLB rule 7.06: Obstruction
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL RULE 7.06
"(a) When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal 'Obstruction.'
"If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire’s judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction. Any preceding runners, forced to advance by the award of bases as the penalty for obstruction, shall advance without liability to be put out.
"Rule 7.06(a) Comment: When a play is being made on an obstructed runner, the umpire shall signal obstruction in the same manner that he calls 'Time,' with both hands overhead. The ball is immediately dead when this signal is given; however, should a thrown ball be in flight before the obstruction is called by the umpire, the runners are to be awarded such bases on wild throws as they would have been awarded had not obstruction occurred. On a play where a runner was trapped between second and third and obstructed by the third baseman going into third base while the throw is in flight from the shortstop, if such throw goes into the dugout the obstructed runner is to be awarded home base. Any other runners on base in this situation would also be awarded two bases from the base they last legally touched before obstruction was called.
"(b) If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call 'Time' and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction.
"Rule 7.06(b) Comment: Under 7.06(b) when the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire’s judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call.
"NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand."
Obstruction is also among the terms defined in Rule 2.0. Most germane to this play is part of a comment in this section: "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: If 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."
So let's look again, shall we?
And what are we hearing from the Twitterati?
Right call. But what a way to end game. Have to wonder if middlebrooks doesn't raise feet up in air if the call is made.— Mark Mulder (@markmulder20) October 27, 2013
David Ortiz: "I don't think it's fair to end a World Series game like that."— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 27, 2013
Jake Peavy is as super pissed as I’ve ever seen a pro athlete. Calls the end a “joke,” says he hopes DeMuth sleeps well.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) October 27, 2013
Don't think the controversy should be on the umpires here. When you throw the ball away they typically score. That's baseball— Hunter Pence (@hunterpence) October 27, 2013
And other sports were heard from:
In any game, especially championship games, I hate to see an official or umpire decide the game— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) October 27, 2013
This is crazy!!— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) October 27, 2013
Crazy, sure, but un-American?
If you can't trip a guy at third base then I weep for America.— Old Hoss Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn) October 27, 2013
So please, let's keep our perspective.
Barry Bonds is saying, "That's obstruction? I didn't do that." #mlb— thom loverro (@thomloverro) October 27, 2013
So it sounds like the only way Middlebrooks could have avoided obstruction would have been to secretly be Nightcrawler from the X-men.— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) October 27, 2013
The Jets strength and conditioning coach who tripped that Dolphins punt coverage player thinks that was obstruction.— Adam Auslund (@followAdamA) October 27, 2013
First the GOP, now Middlebrooks. #obstruction— David Borges (@DaveBorges) October 27, 2013