My Favorite Baseball Rule: 7.08(i)

I want to talk about my favorite baseball rule. But first, you might be wondering why my mind is on baseball rules right now. A comment by the Angels announcers during last night’s game prompted me to do some researching.

There was a seemingly-routine ground ball hit up the middle, past the pitcher, and into centerfield for a hit. The Angels’ announcer made a remark that (to paraphrase): “if the ball had hit the pitching rubber, then gone directly into the air, it could have been caught for a fly ball out. It was close.”  That sounds like complete nonsense to me, so I scoured the official rules, and also did a keyword search for “rubber.” I found nothing. So, I call B.S.  Can anyone prove me wrong? I’d love to know if I’m mistaken.

But back to the title story:

My favorite baseball rule is 7.08 (i). A batter shall be called out, if:Capture

I can only imagine what prompted this addition to the rules, or if the original rules committee had a reason to think this might happen. I found a online baseball message board where one user posted that Herman “Germany” Schaefer (DET) was a notorious showman, who pulled any number of stunts on the field. Among those is the feat of stealing second base from first, followed by stealing first base from second, which he is known to have done once — in 1908 — and alleged to have done another time in 1911, both times followed by attempts to steal second base again.

Believe it or not, this rule was utilized in a game earlier this season. However, the runner was not out, because he was “decoyed.” [Rule 7.08(i) comment]. You can see this comment in the image above, and can see the play in question here:

Cubs vs. Brewers – 4/19/13

Ultimately, I guess we can all thank Germany for this unusual baseball rule!

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