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July 13, 2006

The best rule change EVER!

I don't know if any of you saw this, but ESPN recently published a quiz entitled Test your baseball knowledge which actually is a pretty tough little quiz. And, if you are anything like me you probably went through about 10 of the questions before saying, "Ah screw it" and just hitting the submit button to see all the answers.

If you did that, you would actually get a pretty entertaining read of interesting trivia about baseball. One question in particular caught my eye:

Who developed the Knickerbocker Rules -- the first published rules of modern baseball -- in 1845?

The answer, for all you morons out there (Duh! The answer is so obvious!) , is:

"Alexander Cartwright -- Contrary to popular legend, baseball was not invented by Doubleday. Its true innovator was Cartwright -- an American engineer and founding member of the New York Knickerbockers, the first organized ballclub. Three of his chief rules changes are still in effect today: the concept of foul territory, the distance between bases, and the elimination of retiring baserunners by throwing balls at them."

Did you catch that last rule change? One of the three chief rule changes in the development of the game of baseball was to eliminate the rule that allowed for the retiring of baserunners by throwing the ball at them.

I would like to submit that this is quite possibly the greatest rule change in the history of sports. I can imagine that before this rule change baseball was probably not a very popular sport. People probably didn't like to play it much given the possibility of being killed on the basepaths. Now I don't know for sure, but unless the ball they played with back then was of the Nerf® variety it was probably pretty painful to have someone trying to get you out by winging a baseball at you, especially if it hit you in the head.

So there you have it. My nomination for the greatest rule change in the history of sport. Of course, I don't know all the rule changes ever, but it would be interesting if someone could think of a rule change to top it. Anyone?

Posted by snackeru at July 13, 2006 4:10 PM


I've got to agree with you Shane. It would probably get tiring for fans too as they watch the players scream in panic, arms over their heads, running between bases.

Posted by: Tim R. at July 14, 2006 9:03 AM

I nominate the shot clock in basketball. Before it was instituted (1954), teams could hold the ball indefinitely, and teams would score twenty-odd points a game. The modern game's speed and athleticism is largely due to this rule change.

Posted by: chapman at July 14, 2006 9:58 AM

Good one, chapman! I suppose the "forward pass" rule in football could also be nominated. That certainly changed the game of football for the better.

Posted by: Shane at July 14, 2006 10:04 AM

27 out of 50 correct. Sadly I got the first 7 right, then only 20 out of 43.

Posted by: freealonzo at July 14, 2006 12:02 PM

42 out of 50! Woo-hoo!

Although more than a few of my answers were not-so-educated guesses. If it wasn't multiple choice, I'd be screwed.

Posted by: spycake at July 14, 2006 3:57 PM

The concept of foul territory was pretty big, too.

Another big rule change was eliminating the jump ball after every made basket in basketball.

Posted by: SBG at July 15, 2006 10:44 AM

What's really amazing about baseball is the number of rules that have been in place for over a hundred years that are so perfect.

Have you ever thought about how different baseball would be if there were four outs in an inning, or two, rather than three. If there were only two outs, you'd very rarely see a bunt, because you wouldn't be able to afford to give up the out. If there were four outs, I suspect you also wouldn't see much smallball, because of the greater chance to get a big inning.

How about ninety feet between the bases? Far enough apart that a player usually can't beat out a ground ball, but a fast player sometimes can. Far enough apart that a fast player can steal a base, but a slow player usually can't. How different would baseball be if it was eighty feet, or a hundred?

Sixty feet, six inches from the mound to home plate. Far enough away that a pitcher with an ordinary fast ball can't throw it by a hitter, but a pitcher with an extraordinary fast ball can. Close enough that you can fool an ordinary hitter with a breaking ball, but far enough away that an exceptional hitter will adjust.

I could go on and on, but it is just amazing to me that so many decisions about the rules of baseball that were made so many years ago turned out to be so perfect.

Posted by: Jeff A at July 18, 2006 5:12 PM

Excellent comment Jeff. It is truly amazing how well the rules work. You are dead on ...

Posted by: Shane at July 19, 2006 12:18 PM

Awesome, spycake. I got 31. Some of them were nearly impossible. Where did Vin Scully go to college? Um...

Posted by: alskntwnsfn at July 27, 2006 7:20 PM

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