Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Rules - “A ‘Grounds’ Rule Double”

The things I love talking about most are the technicalities of a sport – especially baseball. Why? Well for one, it is interesting to me. Call me what you will, it will not change me. I was at a Yankee/Rays game at the beginning of the season with The Starving Waiter and the Grau Geist, and Evan Longoria hit the ball straight up off the roof (or what appeared to be, I never saw the replays from the game but heard about 30 different versions of it). Now while our seats didn’t allow us to actually see if the ball hit the roof or not because Tropicana Field sucks ass, I began discussing the park’s ground rules with Waiter. I know what you’re saying now – BOLOGNA! Well it goes to show you’d be wrong and I have a dated Facebook post to prove that I had knowledge of these rules prior to the game assuming I read things I post on others pages. During the offseason, an article was published on Yahoo! Sports (comment on the post and I’ll send you the link as I don’t want to exactly link to my rivals, they have much more interesting to say than I do) that highlighted the strange catwalk/roof rules of the stadium, many of which were just recently changed for the 2010 postseason. I posted this very story a few weeks before making the trip to Tampa and had a few laughs about it – like how we used to play stickball and have “cheaps” and “do overs” and “automatics.” Then poof, it came running out of our mouths as soon as Eva hit that ball, and native Tampans (hah I guess that’s what you call someone from Tampa?) were probably like “How do these people in the Yankee clothes know this about our home park!? We had no friggin’ clue!” (or: “SHUT UP! I’M TRYING TO IGNORE A PERFECTALLY GOOD GAME BETWEEN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE’S ELITE! THERE IS NO FUN ALLOWED IN TAMPA!”)

This finally brings me full circle to why I like the little technicalities of the game as well – you can talk about them and odds are the casual fan (read as: non-douchebag, non-sociopath, generally friendly) that is really there to catch a ball game actually will look impressed. After that, you can tell him you’re the CEO of GOOGLE and he’ll believe you because you’re so knowledgeable. Average fans are dumb while you, reader, are not because you care enough to read what some other die hard has to say (let me welcome you to our blog again, feel right at home).

So here is a nuance of the game that I have learned recently that I would like to pass along to you. Ok, raise your hand if you know what they call it when (and I’m trying to be as specific as possible) a batted ball bounces on the field, in fair territory, and goes straight into the stands, also in fair territory? I’ll give you a hint – it isn’t the title of this article. Oh man you feel stupid. That’s okay, I’m sure at least one of the other two current writers of this blog didn’t even know this one. Let me console you. It is not a “Ground Rule Double” (or as John Sterling calls it I believe, a Grounds Rule Double, hence the title). The fact is that it is neither. It is simply referred to in the rule book as a two base award. A ground rule double is exactly that of what the individual park’s set of rules designates as a rule that applies to their park. It doesn’t have to be specific to their park (other fields can have the same rule based on a similar layout, roof, etc.), but it can’t be in the general rules of baseball to be considered a “ground rule.” For example, a ball caught up in Wrigley’s beautiful ivy wall is considered a ground rule double.

Other examples would be the “ground rule home run” you could hit in Minnesota last year at the Metrodome. If a ball hit the right field wall (known as the “baggy”) and went out of play in foul territory (since the foul fence down the line was much lower than the wall out there) it was a “ground rule double.” However, to have that rule, they had to say the opposite in their park’s rules that if a ball hits the wall and goes over in fair territory (I assume the top of it and sneaks over) it was in fact a home run – by definition of their ground rules. I conclude that this is a ground rule home run because of the distinction made in the rulebook that it must go over, not to the side.

How about a ground rule triple? Does it exist? Well if a player throws his hat or glove at a ball and it makes contact in fair play, the batter is awarded third. However, this is called a three base award since it is universal at any stadium. There are no official ground rule triples yet in the game, even though one was rumored to once be at Fenway Park when something crazy happened with a big ladder out by the monster. But this is all just internet folklore. The two balls that ever hit said ladder turned into inside the park homers. Idiots from Boston… figures.

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