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Cairo ruled guilty of obstruction
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League Championship Series
10/14/2002 10:36 pm ET 
Cairo ruled guilty of obstruction
By Thomas Harding /

Benito Santiago pleads his case with third base umpire Jeff Nelson on Monday night. (Justin Sullivan/
SAN FRANCISCO -- St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Miguel Cairo threw up his hands as if to say not me. But third-base umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that he was at fault -- just not enough at fault to give the San Francisco Giants a run.

In the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, San Francisco's Benito Santiago went from first to third on a David Bell double. Santiago rounded third and appeared to be ready to dash to the plate, but he ran smack into Cairo just off the dirt of the baseline.

The Giants wanted Santiago to be awarded the next base -- which would have meant a run for the Giants -- on an obstruction call. Even though Nelson ruled obstruction on Cairo under Rule 7:06 (b), he did not feel that Santiago, who had stopped after running into Cairo, would have scored.

"In my judgment the runner would not have scored," Nelson said after the game. "And even looking at the replay again, I'm 1,000 percent convinced of that."

Crew chief Randy Marsh, the second base umpire, backed Nelson's interpretation and said he was perfectly in line with the rule.

Back to "The fact that there was obstruction does not give the runner the right to keep running another 45 or 50 feet, and to think, 'I'm automatically going to be called safe at home plate,' " Marsh said.

The crowd screamed. Giants manager Dusty Baker wondered.

"He just asked about the play, just asked what I had," Nelson said.

But no run went on the scoreboard.

The Giants would eventually score the run they needed, and advance to the World Series with a 2-1 vi victory over the Cardinals.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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