Only in baseball

One of the things that has surprised me in Baseball is just how casually they take certain aspects of the game. I’d ask questions of experts or hear experts talking about subjects for which there should be an exact and precise answer for (like the rules) and instead hear some meandering subjective BS. You’d never get away with that in just about any other sport but for some reason in Baseball it’s acceptable.

Case in point, last nights Angel’s vs. White Sox game. In the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs and two strikes, the batter swung at the low pitch and missed. Strike three, out three, the inning is over, right? Well maybe, kinda, sorta, depending on how the umpire feels.

Only in baseball.

The ball, you see, was low enough that it might have touched the ground (replays show that it clearly did not, but I’m trying to give the ump some credit as these things can be hard to see at full speed). The umpire then makes the pumped fist, which to everyone in the western world clearly means that the guy is out. As a result, the catcher rolls the ball back to the mound. Then, and only then, the hitter runs to first base and the home plate umpire calls him safe (because the ball supposedly hit the ground). Huh!?!

Only in baseball.

For those not up to speed on the rules, in baseball if the 3rd strike hits the ground or is dropped, the batter can attempt to run to first base. Why is this the case (he can’t do it on strike two for example)? I don’t know.

Only in baseball.

This is why you normally see the catcher tag the hitter after the 3rd strike, to illiminate that possibility. Otherwise the catcher has to throw the ball to 1st which is a much more risky play particularly considering there is a guy running in the path that you’d like to throw the ball.

One can debate the stupidy of the rule that a bounced ball allows the batter to run (and I think it is a stupid rule) and one can debate whether the catcher should have tagged the batter in this particular case but that’s not what I want to point out. What I want to point out is that only in baseball can their be no signal from the umpire that this rule is in play.

The umpire stated in is post game interview (and it’s worth noting that they rarely do post game interviews) said that his “mechanic” that looked like an out to the entire western world is his “mechanic” for a strike and that he used it consistently through the game (replays of other pitches verified his claim). The best part was that he said it as if it was some convincing argument.

Only in baseball.

Can you imagine a football referee saying that holding both his hands up may be the sign for a touchdown for most people, but for him that means it was just first down. What are you nuts!?!

After further research, it became clear to me that there are no strict rules for what the safe, strike, tipped swing, dropped ball, and out signals must look like in baseball and so, particularly when you introduce different umpires into the mix, it can sometimes be unclear which signal the umpire is making.

Only in baseball.

In fact, many of the analysts were talking about how there are some audibile statements that umps will make to indicate whether the guy is out. Audible!?! It’s a FRICKING baseball game with SCREEMING FANS. Nothing in sports can be spoken and be reliable. That’s why they use hand signals.

Only in baseball.

5 Responses to “Only in baseball”

  1. Paul Says:

    Have you SEEN some of the hand signals that they use. :) It’s no wonder to me that they use audible statements. :)


  2. Ken Crawford Says:

    That’s what I’m saying! My son Gregory has a more consistent strike signal than most umps. (Which is his favorite part of baseball, calling STEE-RIKE!!! while waving his hand to the right every time the pitcher pitches.)

  3. Ken's Brother Says:

    actually his call single was closer to a strike call then anything else. In my humble opinion, a strike out call has to have some flare to it (ala Leslie Nelson in the Naked Gun). The bigger the situation the bigger the call. Bottom of the ninth, world series, game seven, i wanna see a backflip or something damnit!
    PS I wonder if Fisher Price has like a little tyke umpire kit (ala little tyke doctor kit), because Gregory would look totally cool with that mattress pad on his chest.

  4. Ken Crawford Says:

    That’s at least a good idea for a halloween outfit.

  5. Ken's Brother Says:

    Well it’s true. the umpire called strike three, but in that situation he’s not out.
    I agree it’s a stupid rule particularly if you’re swinging at a pitch that’s so bad the catcher can’t catch it, you *really* deserve to be out.