For Red Sox fans of a certain age, Saturday night's Game 3 loss had a feel of deja vu.
Remember? Thirty-nine years ago. Game 3 on the road in the World Series. Tie game.
And an obstruction call decides the outcome.
Only in 1975, it was a non-call. Ed Armbrister of the Reds was attempting to bunt Cesar Geronimo to second base with nobody out in the bottom of the 10th, but he stopped in front of the plate and collided with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, who was attempting to field the ball. Fisk was able to grab it, but had to throw around Armbrister and the ball sailed into center field. Geronimo went to third.
The Sox screamed long and hard for an obstruction call on Armbrister, but plate umpire Larry Barnett said the contact was unintentional and allowed the play to stand. The Red Sox and their fans were apoplectic -- for the longest time, the name Larry Barnett garnered the same reaction as the name Bucky Dent in Red Sox Nation -- because the non-call did, indeed, decide the game. Joe Morgan singled home Geronimo with one out to give the Reds a 6-5 win in a series they eventually won in seven.
(Interesting sidenote: The umpires on Saturday night defended the obstruction call by saying intent isn't a factor, that even though Will Middlebrooks didn't mean to impede Allen Craig, it didn't matter; obstruction is obstruction whether the fielder means it or not. Yet in 1975 Barnett ruled it wasn't obstruction because he said Armbrister didn't collide with Fisk intentionally . . . further evidence that -- as people have suspected since the night he made it -- Barnett blew the call.)
Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson was wearing a microphone in Game 3, and his profane protest to Barnett -- with the offending words bleeped out -- was recorded for posterity. When he finally went back to the dugout, he concluded by telling Barnett: "It's a lousy, rotten, operation, and you and I both know it right now."
Bet John Farrell feels the same way right about now.