Monday, March 19, 2007

Yet another rule that needs changing

It's videos like these that make me so upset that Youtube wasn't around when I was rocketing grounders through the infield.

Before getting to the meat (miit) of this post, I need to first comment on the above video. All I was looking for was a picture or video that would clearly depict a ground-rule double. Surprisingly, there was very little in the way of visual media available on the subject. The reason for the lack of video on the subject is pretty clear: Potential MLB rights violations. Still, I figured there'd be a picture or some kind of explanation that included visuals. There's not that much. Normally I would be angry at the MLB for greedily hoarding all its video. I mean, I was almost forced to draw some stick figure diagram of a ground-rule double. But then, like a gift from the heavens, I stumbled upon this gem. Who needs video of Tony Clark's Game 5 ground rule double or ridiculous video of balls getting stuck in the Ivy at Wrigley or the outfield pads in Montreal or Oakland when instead you can pull up a video of a guy hitting a ground ball through the infield that winds up (inexplicably) becoming a ground-rule double, while at the same time getting pumped up by the hard driving--almost cliched--pure 80's sound of Survivor's "No Easy Way Out?" The video deserves a blog all by its lonesome. The best part of the whole video, if I'm forced to pick one, is when the guy taking the video realizes the hit's going to be a ground-rule double almost as the ball leaves the bat. Those are some interesting ground rules. It's like playing on a mini-putt course or the Trop.

Anyhoo, feeding off of the overwhelmingly positive response (3 comments and counting) of yesterday's post regarding the necessary changes to the pass interference rule, today I tackle the ground-rule double ("GRD") rule. I won't even get into the fact that certain stadiums have there own weird ground rules which, other than the Trop, for the most part I enjoy (balls that end up going into the wall at Fenway are GRDs, the aforementioned Wrigley-Ivy GRD and the Padres ground rule about grounders that David Wells mistakes as mozzarella). The part that I want to tackle is that rule stipulates that when a ground rule double is hit, the runner on first is not allowed to score. That may have made sense at one time, but it does not now. I'm not saying we should make a wholesale change, but there are adjustments that need to be made.

1.) With 2 Outs, The Runner Should Score
Yes, even the Krukker could score from first on a ground-rule double with 2 outs. I should probably mention that I'm working off of a couple of the major assumptions (I can't find the data anywhere) in making these proposed rule changes are A.) The purpose of the GRD rule is to put players where they likely would be had the ball remained in play; and B.) most ground-rule doubles are hit in the outfield (those that do not will be featured below). With these assumptions in tow, it's pretty clear that when a GRD is hit, had the ball stayed in play (especially the balls that clear outfield fence on a hop), the runner would have scored with ease with two outs because those runners are off on contact. In order for a ball to bounce out of the field the ball has to have a high and long trajectory, and usually requires a bounce off the warning track. By the time the ball would have been corralled by the outfielder (had it remained in play) most baserunners are rounding third while tbe limpwristed centerfielder tries to hit the cutoff man. 99 out of 100 times that guy from first is gonna score. So I say let him.

1A.) Ok, So Maybe They Shouldn't Score On Every GRD
I love Rule 1, but in the interest of open-mindedness I'm willing to concede that not all GRDs are the same. At Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Citizen's Bank and others, there is very little room down the foul line behind the first and third base bags. Sometimes a screaming liner will kick up the paint behind the bag and immediately hop into the stands (usually beaning some kid or old person). In those instances, it is reasonable to argue that had the ball kicked off the wall the guy on first wouldn't score unless he was Juan Pierre or Carl Crawford (or Jacoby Ellsbury who is LIGHTNING fast). These balls (had they remained in play) would likely kick either directly to the right or left fielder or fly into short left or right field. Yadi Molina might not even make it to second base with two outs in those situations. So Rule 1A's edit to Rule 1 is the following: With two outs, the runner on first scores if the ball exits the field between the left and right field foul pole (on the outfield fence, obviously). Now THAT is a solid rule. Unfortunately, it doesn't go far enough for me. This is what I really want...

2.) GRD with less than 2 outs, the runner scores from first if he would have scored anyway
First, if you have a minute--and clearly you do--you should do yourself a favor and check out the other
Carl Crawford. In the interest of not making things too ridiculous, I'll continue to stipulate that this rule only applies to those balls exiting the field in fair play over the outfield fence. The gist of this rule is that some faster players can score from first very easily on GRDs even if they have to hold up near the SS to see if the OF makes the play. Why are these players being forced to stay at third base when they are almost already there when the ball leaves the park? I have no idea. My rule would be this: If a player has rounded second base before the ball has left the park (Ump's judgment), that player is awarded home. Why the hell not? The Umps already have the authority to send players to an extra base if a player has rounded the bag before the ball goes out of play on a throwing error. Holding them up on a GRD is ridiculous. It would also be exciting to see the bigger players (Ortiz, Giambi, All Pitchers and especially Manny) flying past second while hoping for a GRD only to have to hit the brakes and ramble back to first.

So listen up MLB, after this is posted there is going to be a significant groundswell of support. And given that this situation occurs no less than a 8 times every season, it is of the utmost importance that you make the change. You should also probably do something about the whole steroids situation. That also doesn't seem very fair.

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