Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Know the Rules

Baseball is a game with rules...a lot of rules. The Official MLB Rule Book is 116 pages while the NCAA 2011-12 Rule Book is 146 pages. Most of the rules, players and fans alike know without knowing they know, or even knowing there's an official rule for what they know. For that, I present to you Rule 8, Section 1a of the 2011-12 NCAA Rule Book (page 90):
Base Running
Legal Order of Bases
SECTION 1. a. The runner must touch each base in legal order (first, second, third and home) and, when obliged to return while the ball is in play, must retouch the base or bases in reverse order.
A.R.—All base runners must touch their advance base.PENALTY—For failure to touch a base advancing or returning: The runner is out if touched by the ball in the hands of a fielder before returning to each untouched base. If the base missed was one to which the runner was forced, the runner is out when tagged or if the ball is held by a fielder on any base the runner failed to touch (including home plate) (see 8-6-a-[4]).
But there are many rules in which most fans, and some players are unaware. For this, we look at another base running rule, the "Force-Play-Slide-Rule (Rule 8, Section 4, page 97)." While I think it is common knowledge by now that the runner must slide directly into the base, they may slide away from the fielder as to avoid contact and not receive an obstruction call.
Force-Play-Slide Rule
SECTION 4. The intent of the force-play-slide rule is to ensure the safety of all players. This is a safety and an interference rule. Whether the defense could have completed the double play has no bearing on the applicability of this rule. This rule pertains to a force-play situation at any base, regardless of the number of outs.
a. On any force play, the runner must slide on the ground before the base and in a direct line between the two bases. It is permissible for the slider’s momentum to carry him through the base in the baseline extended (see diagram).
Exception—A runner need not slide directly into a base as long as the runner slides or runs in a direction away from the fielder to avoid making contact or altering the play of the fielder. Interference shall not be called.
With all the rules that can be referenced by these, and other governing bodies in the game of baseball, there is one set of rules that can make even the most astute player, fan or coach want to change their major...the unwritten rules. It seems like every year there are more and more pages added to the unofficial rule book, and no two people can ever seem to agree totally on which school of thought is correct. Part of that is the fun of baseball, sparking countless hours of debate. The college game, however, is not nearly affected by these "rules" to the extent of professional baseball, for the most part, coaches do a great job of teaching the game to their players, but every once in awhile, players will act out and opposing teams will feel the need to show their displeasure. But when something happens in MLB that stirs some major and sometimes minor controversy, it is important to gain some perspective. For that, there is The Baseball Codes. The book is a good read, but the website touches on current stories in the world of baseball. I have nothing to gain out of this plug except the enhancement of baseball knowledge. So take out your notebook, take some notes, and enjoy.

[Disclaimer: The Coach's Cave does not condone any vigilante justice by any player in the amateur ranks, this is merely for entertainment.]

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