Pal Eldredge

’Pen Pal


Monday, May 14, 2001

Stupid rules in baseball

Every game needs rules. Even games played at the park require rules.

Baseball is no exception. But there are rules in the game that are just plain stupid.

Here are more of "Pal's Picks," this time for stupid rules in the game of baseball.

1 >> There are three rule books. High school baseball has its own book. College has its own version, although it's basically similar to the standard "Book of Rules" (hereby known as the BOR). Most youth leagues and the professional ranks go by the aforementioned BOR.

There are some people, such as certain umpires and coaches, who need to know the rules in all three books. In fact, I needed to know all three myself as a former high school coach, for my job with KFVE for University of Hawaii baseball, and for the summer leagues, like Babe Ruth Baseball and American Legion.

Wouldn't it be simpler to use one rule book? Absolutely!

2 >> The high school balk rule. (You'll notice that several of my picks are from the high school book.) In the BOR, if a pitcher balks and the batter hits a home run, the home run counts because the balk is considered a delayed dead ball. In high school, when a pitcher balks, the ball is declared dead and nothing counts after that. If a home run is hit, it doesn't count. Isn't it ridiculous that the offense is penalized for a defensive mistake?

3 >> The high school batting helmet rule. Let's say a batter hits a triple. He gets to third base, removes his helmet to wipe the sweat off his forehead. He's promptly declared out for removing his helmet. Now how fair is that? I can see the runner being called out if he intentionally removed his helmet while running (this is part of the rule), but to call him out in the above instance is ludicrous.

4 >> The high school appeal play. In the BOR, if a runner misses a base, it's the responsibility of the defense to appeal to the umpire to declare the runner out for missing the base. In the high school book, if a runner misses a base, the umpire can immediately declare the runner out. The onus is removed from the defense to pay attention for the appeal.

I have to give our state some credit, because we do not abide by this rule. We're the only state that doesn't. It's a dumb rule.

5 >> Wearing white or gray as a pitcher. Pitchers aren't allowed to wear white or gray sleeves. They cannot wear a batting glove under their mitts. Why not? Does this really affect the batter's vision? I can see the rule making sense if the pitcher wore a white uniform, long white sleeves, and a white batting glove on his throwing hand. How about protecting the pitcher? The ball is thrown so quickly that it makes no sense to enforce a rule like this.

6 >> Eight players in fair territory. The catcher is the only player allowed in foul territory while the ball is alive. If a fielder stands in foul territory and goes unnoticed by the umpire, and the batter gets a hit, the defense can appeal saying that not all players were in fair territory, and the hit could be negated. Now, I've never seen this happen, and it's unlikely that it ever will because a player in foul ground is obvious. But it's a rule, and a stupid one at that.

Pal Eldredge is a baseball commentator for KFVE
and former varsity baseball coach at Punahou School.
His column runs Mondays during the Major League Baseball season.
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