Holy cow, I wrote a book!
Some time ago, I engaged in some sports-rule lawyering to try to come
up with a way
the losing team could manage to
salvage a win without any remaining at-bats.
It involved invoking a lot of obscure rules,
but astonishingly one of the rules that I called upon
was actually put into effect a few days ago.
The Crawfish Boxes
an entertaining rundown of the sequence of events.
Here is the boring version:
During his plate appearance, Vinnie Catricala was not pleased with the
strike call on the first pitch he received.
He exchanged words with the umpire, then stepped out of the batter's
box to adjust his equipment.
He did this without requesting or receiving a time-out.
The umpire repeatedly
instructed Catricala to take his position in the batter's box,
which he refused to do.
The umpire then
called a strike on Catricala, pursuant to rule 6.02(c).
Catricala, failing to comprehend the seriousness of the situation,
still did not take his position in the batter's box,
upon which the umpire called a third strike,
thereby rendering him out.
watch it for yourself.
(Any discussion of this incident cannot be carried out without somebody
this Bugs Bunny cartoon, so there, I've done it so you don't have to.)
I noted back in 2011 that the conventional way of implementing the
automatic strike is for the umpire to direct the pitcher to throw
a pitch, and to call it a strike no matter where it lands.
This rule was
revised in 2008
so that the umpire simply
declares a strike without a pitch.
This removes the deadlock situation I referred to in my earlier
article, where the umpire instructs the pitcher to deliver a pitch,
and the pitcher refuses.
(The rule change also removes a bunch of wacky edge cases, like,
"What if the pitcher throws the pitch as instructed by the umpire,
and the batter jumps into the batter's box and hits a home run?")
The revised rule 6.02(d)(1) specifically enumerates
the eight conditions
under which a batter is permitted to step out of the batter's box,
none of which applied here.
(Note that the rules of baseball stipulate that
unless the umpire has granted Time,
batters step out of the batter's box at their own risk.
The ball is still live, and a pitch may be delivered.)
Major League Baseball revised the rule in order to speed up the game,
accompanying the rule change with instructions to umpires to
enforce rules more vigilantly.
Time between pitches is by far the largest chunk of wasted time
in a baseball game, totalling
well over an hour in a typical game.
If you add the time between batters, you end up with over half of the
elapsed time spent just waiting for something to start.