So, we were talking a little bit about baseball. Explaining little things about it. For my three sisters, you understand. Even though they really don't care.
We talked about Alexander Cartwright being more of the "inventor" of baseball, instead of Abner Doubleday.
We talked about the pitcher's mound ... a little.
And we talked about the batter's box ... a little.
And what constitutes a strike.
But we left off balls. We'll fix that now.
What do you do with an elephant with three balls?
When the pitcher takes his position, he tries to throw (or "pitch") the ball in such a way that he gets the batter out.
Now, one key thing is that the pitcher must stand with one foot on the pitcher's plate when he delivers the pitch. And there are a bunch of rules talking about what a pitcher can and can't do.
All those rules are complicated and hard to follow.
Here's what they're trying to do. The rules are set up so that pitchers can't trick the batter ... or the base runner.
Baseball is a gentleman's game, you see. Despite having low-lifes like Barry Bonds playing the game. It's supposed to be a gentleman's game. It goes back over 100 years ... probably over 200 years ... or even 300 years. And it's a game that gentlemen could play.
So, a pitcher is supposed to not "quick pitch" to the batter. The batter has to be ready.
Rule 8.01(b) Comment: With no runners on base, the pitcher is not required to come to a complete stop when using the Set Position. If, however, in the umpire's judgment, a pitcher delivers the ball in a deliberate effort to catch the batter off guard, this delivery shall be deemed a quick pitch, for which the penalty is a ball.
Neither is he supposed to fake a pitch in order to fool the base runner.
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when --
(a) The pitcher, while touching his plate, makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch and fails to make such delivery;
Rule 8.05(a) Comment: If a lefthanded or righthanded pitcher swings his free foot past the back edge of the pitcher's rubber, he is required to pitch to the batter except to throw to second base on a pick-off-play. (b) The pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to first base and fails to complete the throw;
(c) The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base;
An illegal pitch is a "balk," and the penalty is that base runners advance one base each for free. Even if the runner is on third (yes, he scores).
If there are no runners on, an illegal pitch is ruled a "ball."
And a ball is a pitch that isn't a strike. Or fouled off. Remember, a foul is a strike, but never strike three. But a foul ball is never a "ball."
With three strikes, the batter is out. With four balls, the batter walks. That is, he gets a free pass to first base. And if someone is on first, the runner gets to second base.
It is not true that all base runners advance. But if someone is "forced" by way of a walk to take their base, they move to the next base. And, if the bases are loaded ... that is, there are runners on every base ... then a walk to the batter forces a run in. The batter takes first, the man on first takes second, the man on second takes third, and the man on third takes home and scores.
If any base is empty, a walk doesn't score a run. For example, if men are on first and third ... but no one on second ... a walk simply loads the bases. The batter takes first, the man on first takes second, and the man on third stays put, since no one was on second to force him off third.
So, three strikes and the batter is out. Four balls and the batter takes first base.
Oh, sometimes, the pitcher wants to throw a ball, not a strike. For example, supposed the batter is one that he's really worried about. One that always gets a hit off of him. And the next batter is a safer batter to face. What then?
Well, sometimes, he'll "intentionally walk" the batter. Just a part of baseball strategy. And we'll talk more about that later.
Oh, the answer to the question: "What do you do with an elephant with three balls?" Walk him and pitch to the rhino.
Yeah, lame joke.
And one other thing.
Suppose the pitcher hits the batter? The batter gets a free pass to first base. And, if in the umpire's opinion, the pitcher hits the batter on purpose, instead of by accident, the umpire will remove the pitcher from the game.
Because you're not supposes to throw the ball at someone. It's a gentleman's game, remember?
Box to mound
And remember when we said that pitchers used to stand in a box and now stand on a mound?
Well, the box used to be 45 feet from home base. And the pitcher had to pitch underhanded. And with his elbow locked.
The rules were eventually changed so that pitchers could throw the ball overhand, underhand, side-armed, or just about any way he wanted.
And the box was moved back, a little at a time, over time.
Eventually, the box went away and the pitcher had to stand on the pitcher's plate. And the plate was put on a mound.
Today, on a 10-inch mound, the plate is 60 feet, 6 inches away from home.
The funny thing about third strikes
Remember that the batter is out after three strikes, right? Well, not always.
The catcher must catch strike three. Okay, that's not exactly true. A bunted third strike isn't caught, but it's a strikeout, and the batter is out.
But, if the batter swings and misses, or the batter doesn't swing but the ball is in the strike zone, then the catcher must catch strike three for the batter to be out
What if he doesn't catch strike three? If first base is open, or if there are two outs, the batter can run, just like if he hit the ball fairly.
And if he makes it to first base, he's safe.
Even though he struck out.
And, yes, that means that a pitcher can record more than three strikeouts in one inning.
In fact, the record is five. That has happened four times, all in the minor leagues. The first time in 1964 by Tom Dukes of the Columbus Confederate Yankees of the Southern League.
We'll talk about more baseball stuff later. I can tell you can hardly wait.