Rules tell us what we can and cannot do, but without rules we could not access some of the greatest things in life. Without rules, a home run would just be a ball over a fence. Or, to phrase my answer in the form of an ESPN commercial, without rules, a shelf would just be a shelf. Today's box score is all about rules.
I'm sure you know the infield fly rule by heart (I'm pretty sure they take away your SABR card if you don't), but it isn't always black and white. What exactly constitutes "ordinary effort"? And can wind make an otherwise ordinary effort extraordinary? That's just what Mark Townsend at Bugs and Cranks is wondering. In a Cubs-White Sox game over the weekend, Jermaine Dye hit a lazy pop up in the infield toward Ryan Theriot. The umpire called for the infield fly rule, but as the ball was falling, the wind took hold of it and Theriot dropped it. Watch the video at the link and make the call for yourself.
What's the most exciting play in baseball? Play at the plate? Over the wall catch? Walkoff walk? I argue it is the inside the park home run. It's guaranteed to be fast, it takes longer than most other plays in baseball, and it's almost always a close play. Ted Keith, writing for SI, says it's the steal of home. So far this season, four players have swiped the hardest base: Jayson Werth, Jacoby Ellsbury, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Chris Getz (the latter two both did it on Sunday). Of course, the most famous steal of home was Jackie Robinson in the '55 World Series. To this day, the catcher has only one memory of the play:
"Mostly," Berra said, "I remember he was out."
Some rules govern reality, while others govern fantasy. Fantasy baseball, I mean. At BDD, Brian Joseph writes a love letter to Scoresheet baseball. While many of you may be familiar with Scoresheet, it remains firmly in the shadow of its more popular bretheren. In Scoresheet,
Results aren’t based on statistical category rankings like normal fantasy games. Instead, weekly results are used to simulate match-ups and owners are required to manage their team like a true Major League team where defense matters and every statistic is weighed into the game’s results.
If Rotisserie Baseball and Strat-O-Matic had a love child, Scoresheet would be its name.
You can find Scoresheet here. My only beef with it is that it's proprietary. But then again, so is Strat, and that never made it any less fun.
From time to time, be it out of negligence, spite, good fun, or recklessness, rules are broken. With the imminent return of Ramirez to Mannywood, Seamheads looks back at another slugger who ran afoul of the League Commisioner: Babe Ruth. After losing the World Series to the Giants, Ruth organized a barnstorming tour between the two clubs to make extra money. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspended Ruth for six weeks. Upon his return, the Boston Globe wrote:
On this day the exile of the King of Swat expires, and the fans are crowding at the gates or waiting expectantly for news, confident that the Babe will knock one, perhaps two, out of the lot.
I dare a newspaperman to write that about Manny.
Finally, without further comment, Jeff Suppan for a penny. [Update 6/30 5:49 EDT: Inevitably, eBay took down the auction. Some Brewer fan was trying to sell Jeff Suppan, with Bill Hall as a throw-in. There was a firm "no returns" policy.]