Baseball Rules


· 2017 Cubs, Baseball Rules · , , , , ,


Greetings and salutations from the glow of the cheap seats, fellow Cubs fanatics, where I still bask in the Cubbie blue afterglow of a World Series championship. It’s like sex … only it smells like leather, cheesy fries and beer. Actually, that would be sex for Cardinals fans. But I digress.

One might think winning the last game of the playoffs would take the edge off the Schlombowksi razor. And one would be correct. Right up until Rob Womanfred poked his head outta the backside of his jackass.

That’s right, sports fans. Manfred is back at it — attacking the perfection of baseball by tryin’ to institute pinheadian rule changes to “speed up the game.” Thankfully, just one of his brain farts snuck through this season, leaving Robby Boy foaming at the mouth in frustration with the MLBPA.

This new rule is a perfect illustration of just how friggin’ constipated Manfred’s whole speed-up-the-game movement is. According to ESPN’s Howard Bryant, Major League Baseball plans to use a dugout signal in place of issuing four balls for a intentional walk this season. If you look at the numbers you’ll see that eliminating the 60 seconds saved by not actually, physically throwin’ 4 balls is like takin’ a bucket of water outta Lake Michigan. If the average game is 3 hours long, that 60 seconds represents 1/2 of 1% of the time it takes to play it. Wow! Brilliant move, Baseball. I can only imagine how the Gross National Product is gonna soar with all that extra time that won’t be wastin’ on a ballgame. Friggin’ genius.

This whole thing reminds me a Star Trek episode, appropriately titled, “A Taste of Armageddon.” During this episode the crew of the Enterprise visits a planet whose people fight a computer-simulated war against a neighboring planet. Even though the war is just pretend, the citizens of each planet have to submit to real executions inside “disintegration booths” to meet the casualty counts of the simulated attacks.

Well, this walkin’ guys without walkin’ guys is the same kinda thing.

It’s complete donkey doo. It doesn’t speed the game up (as if that needed to be done anyway) in any noticeable way, and it robs fans of the chance … the possibility … the anticipation that some yay-hoo pitcher with the control of a young Randy Johnson tosses one of his pitches to the backstop. Pathetic.

If you really wanna improve the game of baseball, consider gettin’ Manfred together with one of those disintegration booth thingies.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.



· Baseball Rules, Joe Sez · , ,


Yesterday, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote a piece about the nine ideas that would improve baseball — not a “fix”, but things that would help the game in one form or another. Personally, I don’t see what’s wrong with baseball, outside of we don’t have cheerleaders. You hear that Manfred?! We want cheerleaders! The game is nearly flawless (unless we’re talkin’ about Starlin Castro’s glove). Time has confirmed the perfection of its geometry. It ebbs and flows like a lazy summer stream, but it’s also punctuated by the violence of the bat, the improvisation and acrobatic of great defenders, and the drama of a single pitch upon which the outcome might rest. There’s no clock savin’ anyone’s ass. Yeah, there’s a clock — one of Manfred’s brain farts intended to speed up the game. Idiotic. But there’s no game clock. As Yogi said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” which can only be associated with the purest forms of sport. There’s no timer that can be manipulated — completely independent of athletic skill — to one’s advantage.

This is where I got an issue with the list in Buster’s piece. At lease item #1. I’m not finger pointing, since the list was generated with help from the Mike & Mike audience. At least it sounds like that’s the case. But that number 1 item on the list reads as follows:

Reduce the games to seven innings. A longtime executive mentioned this idea to me a couple of years ago, a dramatic change that would accelerate the adrenaline of the game and greatly reduce the time of game, something MLB has aimed for in recent seasons. You can shave the commercial time between innings or ask batters to stay in the box, but those are minor adjustments that make a small difference. This change would get the time of game closer to between two and 2 1/2 hours.

No question: Shavin’ commercial time, keepin’ batters in the box, limiting the time for mound visits … None of that makes much of a difference. BUT REDUCING GAMES TO SEVEN INNINGS?!!! Give me a friggin’ Kit Kat break. Is the goal to turn Major League ball games into Little League games? That idea reaches a point on the stupidity peak that’s never been conquered before. Congrats to whoever came up with that, and the “long time executive” Buster refers to. You guys all get the pointy hat prize.

First, is it life’s goal to make everything as frantic and abbreviated as possible? Cuz if it is, maybe we should put some kinda clock on nookie time, too. Do you get what I’m sayin’? Not everything should be measured by the same instant gratification, sound-bitten, 4-second-page-load limited brain chemistry the Internet has brought us. There are some activities in life that should be allowed to unfold instead of being ripped open and tossed aside so you can get on to hyperventilatin’ about the next item on your to-do list.

A seven inning baseball game isn’t going to “accelerate the adrenaline of the game.” Not one friggin’ iota. (Whatever an “iota” is.) The game is gonna be played at the same pace in the exact same way as it is now. Shovin’ the bottom of the 9th drama to the bottom of the 7th just shifts it ahead. It’s not gonna fundamentally change squat. It ain’t gonna make things more exciting, or add more tension, or dial up the excitement. In fact, I would argue that it does the exact opposite. If you’ve got a shorter game, you’re also gonna have fewer home runs, fewer great plays, fewer dramatic moments of every kind that people say they like. Even the pin-heads who go to games cuz they wanna see Bryce Harper flippin’ his bat, and other stupid crap like that, are gonna see 22% less of it.

Baseball isn’t a Las Vegas show girl act. It’s not somethin’ you snort. It’s not a friggin’ Taylor Swift concert. So why do we need to measure how much fun it is by tryin’ to bend it in ways that make it more like whatever else floats your boat? If you can’t sit through 9 innings, leave. Go watch your local high school. Or just go do somethin’ else entirely. But stop whining about a sport that’s been proven over 150 years to be damn near perfect just the way it is.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.


PS. And if you actually do decide to look into “helping” the game — not that it needs it — don’t forget about that cheerleader thing, Rob.


· Baseball Rules, Joe Sez, News · , , , ,


Code:  \ˈkōd\
1) a set of laws or regulations
2) a set of ideas or rules about how to behave

Codes, unlike rules, are often unwritten and informal. No official book. No company manual. No government-like posters in the lunch room. They’re phantom collections of understandings between members of a group. For example, Chicago has a hot dog code that says you never, ever, never, never ever put ketchup on a hot dog; there’s no law preventing it, but if you’re from the Windy City you just wouldn’t ever do that. And if you did, you’d have to take the extra-large ration of doo doo — justifiable, by the way — that your friends would dish.

There are other kinds of codes, too. Like, say, a code of ethics. That’s the kinda thing Hillary Clinton wouldn’t recognize if it jumped up and took a bite out of her pantsuit-wearin’ donkey. Another would be a code of conduct. Donald Trump couldn’t identify that one if it was sittin’ on top of whatever it is that’s already sittin’ on top of his head. But that’s not what’s at issue here. In November, yes. What I’m talkin’ about now, though, is a code of honor. Semper Fidelis is the Marine Corp version. It means remaining faithful to the mission, to each other, to the Corps and to country, regardless of whatever kinda hell is happening all around them. Even the Mafia has a code. It’s called Omertà, and it means you never rat on your friends, you don’t cooperate with authorities, and you keep your nose outta the illegal actions of others. If you’re a wise guy, Omertà isn’t something you wanna treat with a casual attitude; like Alfonso Soriano used to have in the batter’s box. You could end up wearin’ cement shoes. If you’ve ever seen Prince Fielder run, you’d know that’s somethin’ you want to avoid.

Which brings me to the point; that unwritten code in baseball that says if one of your guys takes out one of our guys — whether it’s a hard slide into second base or some chin music that actually hits a high note — there’s gonna be some kinda retaliation. It’s part of the game — even the sissified, pink tutu-wearin’, give-a-warning-to-both-teams version Bud Selig turned it into. When I was a kid though, if you did a Chase Utley against the Cards, for example, you’d have to expect Bob Gibson to attempt a little brain surgery on you the next time you came to the plate. Not givin’ someone a tit when they’ve obviously tatted you is just plain cowardly, my friend. It’s baseball, not figure skating, and if you’re gonna put on the uni it’s your duty to stick up for each other. Period. Plus, it adds a dimension of Omertà to things, cuz you never know when, where or necessarily who is gonna pay the price. Bryce Harper thinks flippin’ bats and admiring your own work at the plate makes the game more interesting? That’s just ego in a very jackassian sorta way. Throwing a 97 mph heater at a guy’s numbers, on the other hand, tends to start a conversation — one that uses ALL the words in the english language, and that sometimes ends up in a spontaneous all-team dance on the infield grass. Now that’s interesting, pallie. You can keep your friggin’ bat flip.

The reason this is top of mind at the moment is because of what we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks. (Besides the Cubs continuing to clean their spikes off on the rest of the National League, that is.) There have been 3 obvious “code” incidents, where guys were throwin’ what I call “pigeon balls” — pitches that come with messages. Buster Olney wrote a good piece about this the other day, describing each of these exchanges and what led to them. The key questions Buster raises are 1) Is it acceptable for pitchers to throw a baseball at or near a hitter to deliver a message? And 2) Should a history of bad blood between teams and players matter? I say yes to both, just in case you haven’t been paying attention. Where Buster misses the mark, IMHO, is his dissatisfaction with how differently each of these events, although very similar, were handled by the umpires, and his call for “MLB to determine what will be tolerated and what won’t be, and to send a message of its own, loudly and clearly, perhaps by reaffirming the rules that should apply in these moments.”

Then there’s that pesky little Rule 8.02: Throwing at the Batter. It reads as follows:

The pitcher shall not intentionally pitch at the batter.

If, in the umpire’s judgment, such a violation occurs, the umpire may elect either to:

Expel the pitcher, or the manager and the pitcher, from the game, or may warn the pitcher and the manager of both teams that another such pitch will result in the immediate expulsion of that pitcher (or a replacement) and the manager. If, in the umpire’s judgment, circumstances warrant, both teams may be officially “warned” prior to the game or at any time during the game.

(League Presidents may take additional action under authority provided in Rule 9.05)

Rule 8.02(d) Comment: Team personnel may not come onto the playing surface to argue or dispute a warning issued under Rule 8.02(d). If a manager, coach or player leaves the dugout or his position to dispute a warning, he should be warned to stop. If he continues, he is subject to ejection. To pitch at a batter’s head is unsportsmanlike and highly dangerous. It should be – and is – condemned by everybody. Umpires should act without hesitation in enforcement of this rule.

Go ahead and reaffirm that rule. Not a damn thing will change.

Yeah, these incidents were kinda handled like they were from different planets. You read the rule … what can you expect? It’s full of words like “judgement” and “may” and “circumstances” and “should.” It’s dealing with something that’s not an absolute, which is why the rule was written that way in the first place. If the nature and severity of code retaliations were always the same, you could have one, all-powerful way of handling them. But they’re not. Too many variables. How hard was the pitch thrown? How close, exactly, was it? Was it really intended to hit a guy or was it just a “hey, I could hit you if I wanted to” thing? Where was it located? Is the pitcher a control guy, or not so much? What was the cause of the retaliation? How severe was it? How long ago was it? Yadda yadda yadda. This is an issue that’s never gonna be etched in stone, and if you try to treat it like it is you’re gonna have a lot more of the Syndergaard/Utley thing than you want. It’s a Pandora’s box, my friend. I say, lock the damn thing and throw away the key.

Look, there are two issues, as I see it: 1) The rule, as written, allows for a lot of interpretation on the part of umpires and 2) Major League Baseball has umpires. Like the code, umpires are part of the game. Do they get stuff wrong. Yeah. Does it drive me to the friggin’ moon and back when they do? Without exception. Do I wanna see Rob Womanfred and his band of merry minions continue to turn baseball into something I hardly recognize by turnin’ umps into zombies, or replacing them altogether with some sort of cyclops-techno-wiz-bang robot that you can’t kick dirt on? HELL no! This is baseball, not u-friggin-topia. The more perfect we try to make the game, the less perfect it’s becoming.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.



· Baseball Rules, Joe Sez, News · ,


Take a knee, Cubs-lovers.

So I’m watching Jake spellbind the Giros last night, wondering if he was facing a real Major League team or the consolation bracket in Williamsport, when, during a commercial break, I flip channels long enough to hear two jock-sniffing windbags calling a meaningless game in Boston or New York or You-Take-Your-Pick mention that the Commish is now considering — get this — a proposal from the owners’ competition committee that will do away with the intentional base-on-balls as soon as next year. No, hey, if you’re rubbing the eye boogers from your peepers right now wondering if you just read that right, believe me, I get it. I nose-farted Old Style all over the barcalounger! Oh, and that’s not all, sports fans. They also want to raise the strike zone to the top of the knee, probably because there ain’t a warm body on the planet that can hit Jake this year. Since Alex Cartright spit out is last chew, the only problem with the strike zone is that the boys in blue can’t seem to read it any better than a book of French poetry. Leave it alone, I say.

Let me ask you this, cheese doodles: is there a novocaine drip that leads directly to Robbie Womanfred’s ball bag? He’s pissed cuz the game is taking seven minutes longer this year. Seven minutes? Um, what’s the problem? The fans in Atlanta may not want to endure the pain any longer than they did last year, but at Wrigley we’re real fans who say, the longer the better. Hell, I can savor two more Old Styles and another Smokie in seven minutes! Let’s face it, hammer heads: either you’re a baseball fan, or you’re not. Don’t like being at the yard? Don’t friggin’ go! Besides, it’s not the stuff on the field that chaps my ass. It’s all the commercials and promotions and electronics and other “fan experience” crap required by the average Dodgers fan that brings the game to a screeching halt and sends me into sensory overload. Not to mention instant replay, which I hate as much as Steve Bartman must.

Now that MLB has adopted the NCAA’s sissy, college-boy slide rule, its next act could be simply signaling the intentional walk from the dugout without requiring the pitcher to make four pitches outside the zone. Is it me, or did somebody just fart? Look, pal, if you’re the Atlanta Braves and somehow find yourself in a close game with guys on second and third, one out, and — God, this is hard cuz that bunch of slapdicks doesn’t have a single good hitter — oh, I don’t know … let’s pretend that Chipper Jones is still playing, and Chipper is due up, and you know they’re gonna walk him, and (since we’re pretending) Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams is on the mound. Wouldn’t you want him to throw those four pitches and pray that one gets past the catcher so you could actually win a game? That’s real baseball, Cubcakes, not the cotton candy-suckin’ ballerina puss-chip thing Womanfred wants.

Let’s see, we already have a girly slide rule and a time limit on mound visits, thanks to the Commish. On the horizon is a new strike zone that will be even harder for the Cincinnati Reds to hit. And now we’re going to use the high school rule for intentional walks. That ought to speed the game up.

What’s next, Robbie, seven-inning games?



· Baseball Rules, Joe Sez · ,


Okay, cotton balls, take a knee.

Is it just me, or has the tendon that connects Rob Manfred’s cranium to his sphincter suddenly grown long enough to wrap around his man grapes?

As if the bonehead 30-second clock wasn’t enough to boil the cholesterol in my blood, the Commish’s office just approved a slide rule at second base. A slide rule at second base? Are you dry humping me? I thought we already had two slide rules at second base: 1) you better slide on a double play, so the shortstop’s throw doesn’t knock your teeth out; and 2) unless you knock the shortstop on his ass trying to break up the double play, don’t bother coming back to the dugout — just leave five hundred big ones on the skipper’s desk and beg his forgiveness at the hotel bar. Maybe he’ll let you play again in … oh, I don’t know … A FRIGGIN’ MONTH!

What are we a bunch of milksop, namby-pamby, pantywaist powder puffs since Reuben Tejada made the mistake of turning his back on Chase Utley in the seventh inning of Game Two of last year’s NLDS? Utley plays hard — frankly, I wish he was Cub — and, yes, he turned Tejada into a rag doll and ended his season. But you know what else Utley did? He sparked a friggin’ four-run rally that lifted the Dodgers over the Mets in Game Two of last year’s NLDS. (God, I hate the Mets, but that’s another story.)

What in theee HELL has baseball become under the new Commish? Well, I’ll tell you, pal. We got the Buster Posey Rule at home; the Chase Utley Rule at second; and coaches reporting to spring training two weeks before pitchers and catchers so they can practice running sprints from the dugout to the mound without having a friggin’ coronary.

Hey, Robbie, you know who plays with a slide rule and a clock? College kids, that’s who. Hey, if I wanted to watch kids play I’d drive the Pinto up to Northwestern. No, thank you, Mr. Womanfred. I want to watch MEN play — hard-nosed, hairy-backed, tobacco-eatin’ men like Ty Cobb who’d wipe out a second basemen just for standing NEAR the bag. Slide rule? Please. What’s next Robbie, friggin’ Cross Out?