Click on above image for a larger version…

It has been close to 20 hours and we feel no better now than when AJ Pierzynski created a phantom interference call supported by Doug Eddings.

OBSTRUCTION (from MLB official rules): Obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

As can be seen in the images above, Willy Aybar is not “in possession of the ball” and he is not “in the act of fielding the ball”. So the question then is whether or not Aybar “impedes the progress” of Pierzynski. We needed the still-frame above to even determine if contact had actually occurred.

Clearly Pierzynski is initiating the contact. That should end the discussion, right? Nope. We get this interpretation from umpire Ted Barrett following the game:

“As a runner, you’re allowed to (make contact). What Doug ruled at second base was, even though A.J. did kind of stick his arm out to make contact, Aybar was still in his way, so A.J., if he would have turned, he wouldn’t have been able to continue on to third. So after making the throw, Aybar is no longer in the act of fielding and he can’t obstruct the runner…”

Is there any difference between this play and the time Alex Rodriguez slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in the ’04 ALCS? Sure different situations. But ultimately the runner’s responsibility is to advance to the next base and should not initiate contact with a fielder unless a fielder is blocking the runner’s path to the base.

Where does it stop? Is it OK for a runner rounding first base on a routine single to alter their path by a few steps to initiate contact with the first baseman and be awarded second base? And if not…Why is it, in the words of Barrett, ok for Pierzynski to make contact?

Did Aybar “impede the progress” of Pierzynski? His progress where exactly? Progress from falling backwards on his own fat ass?

And the umpire should not be bailing out a runner that was stupid enough to get himself into the situation in a first place. Aybar did not hinder the runner. Aybar did not impede the runner. Aybar did not cause Pierzynski to be tagged out. This is no different than a basketball player that leaves his feet out of control and creates contact. A referee is not going to bail that player out with a foul call and an umpire should not be bailing a runner out when he gets himself in a pickle.

And to make matters worse, we had to watch this garbage while listening to the White Sox TV announcers. We have never hidden our disdain for the homerisms of Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson (although we like Jackson better than Tom Paciorek). And they were at their homerific best yesterday. While some announcers may watch a play and note that their team “got a break”, Harrelson and Co., repeatedly praised Pierzynski for his baseball “instincts”. Instincts? This play never happens if Pierzynski does not break a cardinal rule of baseball by trying to advance to third base on a ground ball in front of him.

From the White Sox broadcast:

Jackson: That is third baseman’s fault for not veering to the left and getting out of the way…I’m gonna tell ya. AJ’s got some of the best baseball instincts that you are going to come across anywhere.

a few moments later after more Pierzynski ass-kissing…

Harrelson: I have had so many enjoyable moments watching him play, since he was a sophomore in high school, that he was doing stuff like that back then.

What is being said around the Blogosphere

  • One White Sox blogger says this is “one more reason to hate A.J,” calling the play an “Emmy winning performance.” [The Bard’s Room]
  • Another White Sox blogger says Pierzynski “suckered Eddings with inspiration drawn from desperation,” and compared Eddings to a pro wresling referree. [Sox Machine]
  • And yet another White Sox blogger says Pierzynski “somehow was able to sell his case to the umpire.” [Bugs and Cranks]
  • Her Rays wishes she could turn the little weasel into her favorite game of “Whack-A-Mole.” [Her Rays]
  • Outs Per Swing feels the rule is in question and Aybar should not be penalized for not doing something that was impossible to do. [Outs Per Swing]


  1. Tommy says:

    You touched on what I said, but really how could Aybar get out of the way any quicker? He throws the ball and starts moving toward the outfield. In the sequence of pictures you have up there he's walking away and not even looking at Pierzynski.

    I understand the rule, but Pierzynski was not trying to advance at that point. He was dead in the water and used a stupid rule to his advantage.

    To bring up the call last week maybe B.J. was trying to run to second, but Howie Kendrick got in his way. OBSTRUCTION!!!

    Plus before all that he was running on the infield grass, but I guess that's ok.

  2. Hazleton Jason says:

    This all moot- the Rays were going to lose this game anyway... If Shawn fu**ing Riggans catches the motherf***ing ball the game ends- that drop was inexcusable, the runner was meat by like 20 feet!!!

    This week is absolutely critical to the Rays. I would love to see the Yankees sweep the Sox this week (first time I've ever said that in my whole life)and if the Rays can beat Toronto 2 of 3 I'll feel a little more comfy. But we play the AL he whole rest of the season over and over and over again. This is FAR from over, they gotta win 2 of 3 against Toronto and pull of at least 2 of 3from Baltimore with an eye on a sweep... I'm not comfortable at all, and neither should any of you. This loss to the White Sox could end up being painstakingly huge...

  3. The Professor says:

    agreed but what the Rays have going for them is a 3-team cushion. 3 teams have to pass the Rays for them to be out of the playoffs and that is unlikely. but yes, i am nowhere near comfortable.

    i disagree that the White Sox win anyway.

    If the play is ruled correctly it is man on first with 2 outs. not likely to score there.

    the Rays then had Gross and Bartlett due up. if just one of those gets on base, it is the top of the order with one out and a runner. no guarantee but good opportunity.

  4. Hazleton Jason says:

    I understand your reasoning, but it's hard to regain the momentum after not winning the game due to really bad play by Riggans- I just felt as soon as that play happened that the game was over...

  5. The Professor says:

    i felt the same way at the time. but one could argue that if Piehead is called out at second base, it would have had the same effect on the White Sox...momentum killing

  6. steve-o1285 says:

    Plus the Rays have showed that they can come back from momentum killers. Think about Percival's blown saves. The one that sticks out to me was in Toronto when they lost a 3-0 lead in the 9th, but still went on to win on Navi's GS.

    You just never know.

  7. botw81 says:

    Eddings is repeat screw up. Just last month, he blew a call in the Boston/Baltimore game nearly as badly as this one.

  8. Anonymous says:

    As painful as it may be to imagine this but... are there any "I Love A.J." tattoos on Mr. Eddings?
    I mean, this is the second absolute "love fest call" FOR the same guy, BY the same guy...

    -- I have to go shower now, I feel Yucky --

  9. Mark says:

    Riggans dropping the ball (literally) changed the game's situation as much as the phantom interference call.

    I'd rather the Rays lose because of something they did, than something they did NOT.

    Riggans DID muff that great throw from Zobrist, but it only led to extra innings because the Rays got out of the inning.

    Willy Aybar did NOT touch Pierzinski, but because he was called for an obstruction, it's perhaps the reason the Rays lost.

    We'll never know if the Rays would have won that game without that call, and that's what pisses me off about it.

    And the only reason BJ Upton is getting shit for that catch is because he's BJ Upton and this stuff has followed him the whole month. Ruggiano isn't being crucified for letting that ball drop in front of him last Wednesday, which I was very confused about at the time when I watched it happen at the Trop.

  10. Aaron says:

    I still hate Doug Eddings and Pierzynski for this two years later, such a misjustice! >:(


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