Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 (NKJV)
It was an unusual ending to a great game. As a matter of fact, it was apparently the first time a Major League Baseball World Series game had ended with an obstruction call. Not too hard to believe since that situation seldom arises at that level of play.
In the Official Rules of Major League Baseball, Section 2.00, Definition of Terms, the applicable definition is:
“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.”
And when it occurs, the basic application of Rule 7.06 requires that the runner be awarded the base he would have reached if, in the umpire’s judgment, there had been no obstruction.
In the bottom of the ninth inning during Saturday’s World Series game, with the score knotted at 4 to 4, the Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalmacchia threw wide of third baseman Will Middlebrooks, in an attempt to throw out St. Louis Cardinals’ runner Allen Craig, who was trying to advance to third base. While the ball rolled past third into the left field foul area, Craig attempted to get up and advance to home plate to score the winning run, and instead initially tripped, slowing his progress, over the now-raised legs of Middlebrooks who was lying face down at third base.
Third base umpire Jim Joyce immediately raised his arm signaling obstruction by Middlebrooks, followed by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth signaling Allen Craig safe at home despite seemingly being tagged out by Boston’s catcher Saltalmacchia whom the baseball had been thrown to by the Red Sox’s left fielder, after retrieving the earlier wild throw past third base.
The obstruction call was correct, and despite the unusual nature of the game’s ending—the St. Louis Cardinals won game three of the 2013 World Series to take a 2 games to 1 advantage.
During a post-game interview, Fox Sports on-field reporter Erin Andrews haltingly asked Cardinals’ left fielder Matt Holliday the following question:
“What do you think…about a game ending like that…in the World Series?”
And then again, before he could respond she excitedly and without pause this time repeated the question, obviously seeking to stir something up out of the issue—
“What do you think about a game ending like this in the World Series? What’s your reaction?”…“You’re up 2 to 1 in the series, [because of the game] ending in a bizarre way like that.”
Holliday’s response simply pointed to the rule. “It’s part of the game,” he responded.
The rule, one of many which are the foundational elements established for the integrity of the game. The rules. The truth.
Ms. Andrews’ question, innocuous enough at first blush, casts an interesting perspective on what seems to be a move by society away from absolute truth. When should truth prevail? When should the rules apply? Always, or only when it seems that their application is fair? Or perhaps they should be applied only in lesser situations—like during regular season games—but not in the playoffs? Certainly not for the World Series?
What about in life? Should the rules apply—should truth apply—only when the result is the right one for me? Or for our children? Or should they apply when it is simply the right result—period—whether or not it inures to my benefit? Or maybe they should apply only when the result is fair by popular consensus? Maybe they shouldn’t apply at all, if all my friends are doing something different?
Does her question suggest that because it’s the World Series that a seldom applied rule—because of the infrequency of the occurrence it addresses—should be changed or not applied in that instance? Or at least it should not be applied if it results in the end of the game? Or one might suggest it could be applied in the earlier innings, but nothing after the sixth inning or seventh inning? But even then it might be suggested that maybe it should be applied only if it “seems” fair?
The list could go on and on, as we push the envelope away from the truth, away from the rules, to make exceptions for circumstances based upon our feelings or to arrive at a consensus of fairness.
Should the beneficiary of the properly applied rule—the St. Louis Cardinals—feel guilty about winning a game that way? Is that what she was suggesting by her comment—“You’re up 2 to 1 in the series, [because of the game] ending in such a bizarre way?”
Absolute truth is the basis for all decisions. Or it should be. Absolute truth recognizes the supernatural aspect of our existence in this world. It recognizes that things are right and wrong based upon what God says is right and wrong.
That is the Truth—God’s truth—the absolute truth that should guide decisions—whether seemingly “fair” or regardless the consequence, rather than based upon popular consensus, relative reasoning, or feelings. Without an absolute basis—an absolute polestar—for decisions between right and wrong, truth becomes relative, and dependent upon the situation, on the inning, on whether its application is fair or not, or is fair any longer today in the midst of changing cultural patterns.
It was just an obstruction of the base runner by the infielder which ended game three of this year’s World Series. And it may be that Ms. Andrews didn’t even realize what her comments could be construed to suggest. After all, it was a seldom-used rule.
But it was a rule. That led to a right result. And it was the truth, absolutely.
The umpires got it right.
Will we? The future will tell.
Just something for us to think about as the World Series and life continues.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2013. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.