The Last Great Call(s)

Oquendo: "The left fielder did a good job getting to that ball. And after that, I was trying to get out of the way. Why? [Laughs.] The ball was coming towards third, toward home plate. So I didn't want to be another controversy."

The throw home is in time. Craig veers toward the infield side of the plate and tries to sneak in, but he winds up a couple of feet from home. Saltalamacchia applies the tag, raises his glove toward DeMuth to show him the ball ... then sees that the only man who matters is signaling "safe," not "out."

Saltalamacchia: "I was like, 'Wait a minute. What do you mean, safe? He can't be safe. I tagged him out. I'm halfway up the baseline. I tagged him. He cannot be safe. It's impossible.' And that's when he said it was obstruction. And I just, I wanted to lose it. But at that point, it was ... well, what are you gonna do?"

Unbeknownst to any of the 47,432 people in the seats, or even the men in uniform in the dugouts, something special is happening in the infield, even as Craig is limping toward home and Nava's throw is floating through the night: Two umpires who have known each other for more than three decades, since they worked together in the minor leagues in the early 1980s, are in nearly telepathic lockstep, communicating mostly via their actions, their gestures and an instinctive exercise in the art of eye contact. Without their intuitive feel for each other, and the unspoken realization that they are on exactly the same page, the chaos that is about to erupt around them would have been far worse.

Joyce:: "I'm thinking ... 'Allen is going to score easily.' And all of a sudden, I see Danny Nava pick up the ball and fire it to the plate, and it's like slow motion now. All of a sudden, that ball's coming in, and it's one of those uh-oh moments. And I look down, and I see Dana pointing and pointing and pointing. And I felt really good at that point because Dana had seen me call obstruction."

DeMuth: "I started to initiate the call of obstruction. And I saw Jimmy jumping right on it also, which made me very happy. So I yelled at the end, 'Obstruction,' to let Jimmy know that I saw it."

Joyce: "If you watch the replay of that play, you'll see as soon as I point and call obstruction, Dana immediately is pointing down. He's not pointing at the plate. He's pointing at me. And he's saying, 'Obstruction, obstruction, obstruction.' He did it three times. He was so emphatic. And when he calls him safe, he points down again twice. And that is textbook. That is exactly what a major league umpire should have done in that situation. And like I said, I think Dana should get the majority of the credit on this because he's the one that ... is making sure that everybody knows. He knows nobody's listening, and nobody is paying that much attention to Dana, because they're all focused on the play at the plate. And Dana, he immediately is pumping it out big-time. And there's no way he could have done it any better. There's no way."

Joyce (on whether he and DeMuth were in total sync because they'd done this for so long, because they'd worked together in the past or because they simply had a perfect feel for the moment): "I think you can take everything you just said and put it into one."

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