Lesser known rules of baseball

July 15, 2015

And hello to summer. Maybe you’re spending the occasional summer evening or afternoon at a baseball game. And maybe you’re coming off like a big dumb dummy for not knowing all the intricate rules involved in the game. Sure, you know about three strikes and you’re out, infield fly rule, and how you’re supposed to run COUNTER-clockwise, but if you really want to be a smart smarty at the park, learn these lesser known rules to impress your friends.

TIE GOES TO THE SWEDE – In the event the runner and the ball arrive at the base at the same time, whichever one has a greater and more provable Swedish lineage gets the benefit. This is why the White Sox signed Bjorn Borg recently, despite the fact that he’s 59 and doesn’t know what baseball is.

INFIELD WEIRD RULE – If an infielder gets, I don’t know, this weird feeling, hard to describe, kind of like dread and guilt mixed together, he can lie down on the grass until it passes. Since infielders are generally sanguine, this comes up only a few times per season.

DECLARING OUT – Any player in the field has the right to declare any hitter “out” at any time. Only a code of honor prevents them from doing so constantly. The undefeated 1924 Detroit Tigers were the last to employ this rule with regularity.

ANYONE CAN UMPIRE – If a player is tired of being a pitcher or a fielder, he has the right to switch places with an umpire for an inning. Through this, both player and umpire gain an appreciation of how hard the other’s job is.

SECOND STRIKE ZONE – We all know the area in which a pitched ball is called a strike and how anything outside that is a ball. What many don’t know is that there’s a second area where a strike can also occur. It’s atop the scoreboard and it’s a small cardboard box. Most pitchers use the first strike zone.

BELLY ITCHER – In order to slow the game down, just to get some perspective on life, a team can replace a pitcher with a belly itcher. If the team at bat chants, “We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher” one hundred times, the belly itcher must leave. By then, everyone feels better.

A DOG CANNOT PLAY BASEBALL – Don’t let feel-good family movies fool you. There IS something in the rule book about a dog playing baseball. It’s illegal. Come on, man, what’s wrong with you?

SWITCH RULE – If every single attendee at a baseball game (minimum 30,100) shouts “SWITCH” at the same time, the teams must switch to a new sport. It could be football, basketball, rugby. It’s hard enough to get people to do the wave so this has never happened. But it could.

Okay! See you at the ballpark!


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Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) will be portraying The Big Lebowski’s Walter Sobchak at a live reading of the movie for Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival. Michael Fassbender (!) will be handling the role of The Dude, if you’re into the whole brevity thing.

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