Friday, May 23, 2008

How to achieve uniform playing areas.

I wrote about this in my original post. Here are some suggestions about implementing it given the absurd configuration of MLB ball parks.

1. Decide on a distance that a fly ball should travel to be a home run, let' say 380 feet. Measure that distance from home plate in each park, into the stands where necessary. Mark the 380 foot line in the stands. Any ball that lands in the stands but not over the 380 foot line is a ground rule double. Move the fences in at any point where they are more than 380 feet from home plate.

2. A fly ball must be caught in fair territory to be an out. This addresses the disparity of the area of foul territory.

3. Determine the minimum foul territory and mark a boundary in all others to match that area. Any ball that goes over the boundary is considered to be in the stands.

4. Make the height off the fences the same in all directions in all parks to the extent possible. Ten feet seems about right, preventing players from jumping into the stands.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why are foul balls strikes?

By 1903 both the American and National Leagues had settled on a foul ball counting as a strike, at least until there were two strikes. In some slow pitch softball leagues, a foul ball after two strikes is a strike out. Maybe MLB went to this rule to speed up the game. It didn't work. Consider two at bats. Babe Ruth swings and misses two pitches then fouls off the third. Ruth is still at bat. Ty Cobb fouls off two pitches, then misses the third. Cobb is out. How is that fair? It isn't. Get rid of this rule. A foul ball any time should not affect the count. It should not be a strike.

When is the count even?

Most people think the count is even at 0-0, 1-1, 2-2. Wrong. Since it's four balls for a walk and three strikes for a strike out, the pitcher starts the plate appearance ahead in the count. The count is even at 1-0, 2-1, 3-2. That's when both the pitcher and batter are an equal number of pitches from their limit. Maybe we should give a walk at three balls, that would make it simpler and more obvious. It's amazing that even something this simple and fundamental is viewed incorrectly. It shows the extent to which baseball fans are stuck in conventional wisdom.