The Hit List: Top 15 dumbest (real and unwritten) baseball rules
It was an interesting week in Major League Baseball as America began to look more carefully into the rules that govern the Great Game. As noted in TTFB, Rule 7.13 was made official causing a ballyhoo of intrigue throughout baseball.
While you would think looking out for player safety would be a welcomed thing (and if you want to complain, meet Buster Posey), this new assortment of rules and bylines hasn’t made it out of the bullpen without some frowns from the old school regime.
Take Mike Scioscia, Angels manager and former old school catcher, who told the Los Angeles Times, “I think it’s an extremely difficult thing to legislate.” Some new schoolers even have an issue with, like Scioscia’s own catcher Chris Ianetta, “I’m OK with keeping it the way it is.”
And therein lies my muse for the latest edition of “The Hit List:” The top 15 dumbest (real and unwritten) baseball rules.
15. Steal, only when its competitive. It’s bad sportsmanship. It’s bush league. It’s stat padding. Try, it’s baseball. I get the boo-birds on this rule but it’s like a blowout in football. If you want to complain, do something about the scoring. If your bullpen sucks in a 11-1 game, learn a better pick off move. Outfielders with wheels get paid and famous for a reason. Ask that Rickey Henderson guy.
14. Ground-rule double. Not all ballparks are created equal. Then, there’s the ball-lost-in-the-ivy at Wrigley, the ball-lost-in-the-roof at Tropicana, and the ball-over-the-four-foot-right-center-field-fence at Fenway … ground-rule doubles that prove it. I once heard the great Jon Miller call it an “automatic double,” which is very accurate; nonetheless, malaise sets in because it’s so like a tied game in hockey feeling. Sure, the away team loves the ground-rule double because they escape a run. The home team hates it because they would love to have a run. And then there’s Steve Bartman who would rather go back to listening to his Walkman circa 2003.
13. Don’t run up the score. Again, see No. 15. If the visiting team is up by 10 runs and the home team is getting booed like Justin Bieber at a concert in Detroit, what do you expect a hitter to do? Show empathy and strikeout? Pitch better. Field better. Hit better. Play better. It is a game after all.
12. The unofficial rainout. Full disclosure: I’m a Texas Rangers homer, and this dunderhead rule affected my team. That said, it still sucks. It is May 2011 and the Rangers are opening a can of whoop @$$ on the swingin’ As. In the fourth inning, the skies are darkening in the middle of the afternoon. Mitch Moreland gets up to the plate, bases loaded and crushes it — for his first grand slam. The skies open up for three hours, the game is canceled and Mitch’s grand slam gets swept to the gutters like the rest of the trash thanks to the rain. Wait, what? The Rangers were up 7-0 but because of rain those stats don’t count? He hit the ball. You know, in a real game. One I was perched in right field enjoying. But I guess I wasn’t there either. Thanks MLB rules. Can I get a refund?
11. Pitchers, shut up. It’s the one misnomer about baseball — this is a team sport. Yeah, it’s a game full of more statistics than the IRS tax code based on individual performance, yet, it’s a team sport. Okay. If that’s so true, please notify the pitchers (outside of Armando Galarraga whose class is still baffling), who are more than happy to hurl a teammate under the bus for an “oops” move in the outfield; thus, blowing a no-hitter. “Team” game, remember? Got it. TeIam. Problem solved.
10. (shhhh. it’s a no-hitter.) please forgive non-capitalization but when it’s a no-hitter in the making, no one is allowed to say the word — including the friggin’ commentators. so i’m trying not to raise my voice. you see, when baseball’s version of the ‘n’ word is spoken post seventh inning, the ghost of noah webster of dictionary fame will come to the ballpark, pee on the pitcher’s mound and cause the gremlins to visit the game. because that’s why the pitcher’s arm got tired and the nerves got to him. so next time, keep it to yourself or you will get blamed, like you had anything to do with that bloop single, you dope.
9. All 285 rounds of the MLB draft. No one can duplicate the Bonnaroo, Coachella, Woodstock-like hysteria of the NFL draft, but at least try. Come on, people. The NBA draft has the ping-pong balls. The NHL has, well, who really knows. However, this game has its “amateur draft” in June, when no one is really watching. And then, we are supposed to yell “Huzzah!” in unison with the first overall draft. Instead, most baseball homers and fans alike usually say, “Who?” There are so many rounds, you could file your tax returns and still catch the ending. And then, the low-rent stage setup. It’s like MLB doesn’t want media attention because why would the sports networks (including MLB’s own) televise something that was filmed on PeeWee’s Playhouse?
8. Retaliation (except headhunting). Why is this even one of the unwritten rules? If someone plunks your hitter, you plunk him back. That is sacrosanct. Never mind you are sacrificing personal money, ejections and even suspensions. What matters is that it is a “rule.” I understand protection. I understand getting your teammate’s back. So would other guys; so why a rule again? Now, if you hurl a 98 mph fastball at someone’s head, you suck. Aim for the first baseman’s thigh of the other team that just laughed at the buzzer your outfielder just received, and you get applause. And some high-fives.
7. Don’t admire your work. I love a 3-2 pitch in the dirt that causes a big bruiser’s knees to buckle like he is waiting for a first kiss from his prom date. I adore an athletic catch in the outfield that would make mere mortals wet themselves at the thought of a dive like that. I yell with the batter when there is a tight dart hit in the alley causing two runners to advance in a close game. But hit a home run and admire it … and you are a tool?! No, you are a tool and you admire the hit like Willie Mays Hayes and it turns out to be a pop fly.
6. The holiness of the pitcher’s mound. I’m not a historian of the Great Game’s rules as much as I would like, so someone tell me, was there ever a barbed-wire fence around the mound? Landmines? Laser sights? A Papal signature? I understand it’s the pitcher’s home during the game, but shouldn’t that be when the pitcher is actually on the mound? Between innings, when people are returning to their respective dugouts? Eh. I understand this came up when A-Roid did it against the Oakland As, but that was mid-inning and … it was him.
5. Field dimensions. Individuality. Character. Uniqueness. Making a ballpark these days is more one-upsmanship than architecture at its finest. The lines of sight. The bullpens. The walkways. All should be considered, but leave the damn field alone. Please? I mean, what’s with Survivor Island in Minute Maid Park? The acreage of foul territory at Oakland Coliseum? The Porch that Babe (had) Built in old Yankee Stadium (or the on-field monuments at the old, old Yankee Stadium)? For the gomers out there, AstroTurf? Just saying. I’m no geometric wunderkind but what about rules and standards? At least for the field. That’s all. Hitters parks. Pitchers parks. Fans parks. There’s no advantage for any players when an architect gets half-baked and draws his delusions on paper.
4. No replays. I get it. This is a fabled game — one of folklore steeped in tradition. However, it’s 2014 and there’s this thing called technology and still something called rules. And those umpires aren’t getting any younger. Now before you get started, baseball has replays on home runs. Kudos. What about the rest of the three-hour game that five umps are having difficulties seeing through cataracts and glaucoma? Or anyone named Jim Joyce.
3. The dropped third strike. The battery is in the middle of a cerebral battle. The batter is trying to match their stelo and crack one over the fence. It’s a 3-2 count and the pitcher hurls a slider so nasty that the catcher can’t even find it over the plate … and in the dirt. It’s a strike, but wait, the rules of baseball says the hitter can attempt to run to first base. Wait, what? What if the NFL determined dropped balls in the endzones were still worth six points because “Aw shucks, it was such a valiant effort.” That sounds about as dumb as this dropped third strike kerfuffle.
2. Two words: D. H. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m an American League guy. Always have been, but I dread the World Series because our big beefy bats (one who quite possibly cost a baseball team the World Series, was suspended for using HGH and is now a friggin’ Oriole) don’t get to play the away games. And if that’s not bad enough, during the
intramural interleague games, we are forced to watch grown men hit worse than a Little Leaguer. Not just any Little League player. I mean, the manager of the team. The designated hitter is one of those rules that polarizes the game from the inside and out. Players, like the one pictured here, are able to earn millions more past their prime because they can hit. And for what? The game. Some purists don’t like the DH because they value pitching more. I wonder if NL and AL guys would enjoy an all-time QB in the NFL. Betcha’ they used that in flag football.
1. The Baseball Hall of Fame. (Editorial: Next to the city jail, this building is full of more opinionated corrupt individuals anywhere in the country.) Here’s a question: What’s the difference between someone who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and a “first ballot” Hall of Famer? Answer? Not a dang thing! Yet, the Baseball Writers Association of America wield all the power they can muster because they hold grudges or just didn’t like a way some fool approached the game. Cheating is one thing. Playing to win is another. And yet, the rules of baseball statistics don’t apply to these curmudgeons. The HOF has developed annals of documentation on how someone earns entrance into the broken hall, but the writers have no rules themselves. And for that, those regaled doors should be locked and the whole thing should be blown up, like a Barry Bonds home run ball.
And if you need more convincing, there’s this slice of genius pie from one Keith Olbermann. Enjoy.