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A Most Strange And Delightful Game

March 18, 2021

Billy Joel once delayed a concert for what most people would think was a poor reason.

The New York Mets went into extra innings.

I completely understand and agree.

Baseball isn’t for everyone. I’m glad it’s for some people. But, if my friends think it’s the world’s most boring sport? I understand. . .but don’t agree.

Baseball and it’s cousins like Cricket, is the only sport where the defense controls the ball. In fact, most often if a player on offense touches the ball, they are out.

Get hit by a line drive while running from first to second?

You’re out.

Interfere with a fielder trying to field the ball?

You’re out.

Get touched by a glove that holds the ball while off a base?

Yup, you’re out.

You might know that if a batter gets hit by a pitch he gets to advance to 1st base. What you might not know is that the rules say that if a player does not make a reasonable effort to avoid getting hit with the ball. . .

He’s out.

Baseball is also odd because ties are not allowed. You play nine innings and if you are tied, you keep going. How long? Well, the longest professional game on record is 33 innings. It was in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. The teams were AAA affiliates.

The other oddity about baseball is that it rewards inactivity. The pitcher touches the ball every play. He throws the ball to the catcher. The fewer runs that score the lower the pitcher’s Earned Run Average (ERA.) Lower is better. So, if the pitcher can keep the other team from scoring by throwing a shutout, that’s impressive.

Even better than a shutout is a no-hitter. That’s where not only do no runs score, but no batter even records a hit. (Baseball has very strict rules on what is or is not a hit.) So, a no-hitter is even more impressive.

But, topping that is the perfect game. A feat so rare that baseball tradition forbids discussing it while it’s in progress. A perfect game means that no player reaches base. No walks. No Hit By a Pitch (HBP.)

So, preventing the other team from scoring a run? Good.

Preventing them from getting a hit? Better.

Preventing them from getting on base? PERFECT!

Now, suppose you are the fan watching those games? The PERFECT game is when no one gets on base. That’s not exactly a rugby scrum.

Spring Training is going on right now in Florida and Arizona. It looks like Baseball will be back to it’s full 162 game season this year. I’ll probably watch between 140 and 150 Seattle Mariners games via mlb.tv.

If you don’t watch a single game, that’s fine by me.

Because you’ve read this far I’ll tell you my favorite baseball trivia question.

I’ve already mentioned that the offense can’t touch the ball. But, how can the defense score three outs without anyone touching the ball after it’s been hit?

No outs, runners on first and second base. Batter hits a towering pop fly that doesn’t leave the infield. Umpires immediately call the Infield Fly Rule: Batter is out.

One out.

The runner on first doesn’t see the ump call infield fly and he runs past the runner on 2nd base. The runner on first is now out.

Two out.

The runner on second steps off the base just as the ball comes down and hits him in the head. Batter is out (possibly literally.)

Three outs, triple play.

And no one on defense touched the ball.

And that’s why I love this crazy game.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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