The Last Great Call(s)

Joyce: "My first instinct was to watch the ball because, working in a four-man system, you're responsible for that spectator-interference [call]. ... So as I turned to my right to watch the ball, I realized that [left-field umpire] John Hirschbeck was behind me. ... So I immediately turned back to the play at third base, to Will Middlebrooks and Allen Craig. And I see Allen on the ground and Will Middlebrooks on the ground, and I get a real good look at both of them."

After landing on his stomach, Middlebrooks wheels to look back for the ball. Craig steadies himself with one hand, picks himself up, glances behind him to try to find the baseball, then turns toward home, strangely, from the second-base side of the bag. He doesn't see Middlebrooks, sprawled directly in front of him, until he stumbles over him, just as Middlebrooks is starting to push himself up, legs in the air. Down goes Craig again. And Joyce lurches into action, pointing emphatically at the two men flopped in front of him.

Joyce: "Instinctively, it comes out. It just comes out: 'Obstruction' -- point -- 'Obstruction.'"

DeMuth: "I saw Salty throw to third, and I saw his throw was off. It got by third base and went on down to the foul line, to the out-of-play area. That put me looking in the right direction, to where I could see Jimmy [Joyce] and both the fielder and the runner laying on the ground at third. Then I saw him getting up and jumping over the third baseman. And that's when I knew there was obstruction. ... And I looked at Jimmy, and saw Jimmy watching the ball and looking back. And then I realized that he saw it, too."

At that point, it appears as if only two people in the entire park -- Joyce and DeMuth -- know that obstruction has been called. Seemingly, not a single player on either team has gotten that memo. And the play is far from over. Craig scrambles to his feet and begins to stagger home. Later that night, he says he felt as if he'd been running in slow motion. Looking back on it this spring, it still feels like an agonizingly slow trip to glory.

Craig: "I felt like everything was moving fast until I had to try to get up off the ground and run home. [Then] I felt like that was taking forever to get there. And I wasn't feeling great."

Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo: "I know he's hurt. But any time a third-base coach has a feel that a player with the speed that he has, at that moment, has a chance to score a run, he waves. If you feel he won't be able to score with what he has, you make a decision to stop him. It's [the ninth inning] of a game, you know? So you feel like, if you have a chance to score that winning run, you take the chance. Once he's tripped, I'm already committed to send him. So to stop him would be tough."

His foot aching, Craig lumbers toward the plate, as fast as his legs will allow. Meanwhile, the left fielder, Daniel Nava, makes an alert, still-underappreciated play himself, to back up the throw, chase it down in foul territory and fire it toward home, where Saltalamacchia is waiting, his pulse racing.

Saltalamacchia: "Even though the ball got away, and he was trying to score, I saw him trip. And I was like, 'All right, we've got him. He's dead. We've just got to make a good throw.'"

Middlebrooks: "I saw Nava make a perfect play and throw it home. And it would have been one of the coolest double plays in the World Series."

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