There’s been a lot of talk about how much baseball is changing the last few years.
Defensive shifts. Players swinging for the fences on every swing. A game of strikeouts or home runs. Starters only allowed to go six innings. The front offices calling the shots. Managers being just puppets.
But I ran across an article which talked about the original rules of baseball that I figured might be more fun than talking about how the Rangers are ten games under .500 again, how they have a fundamentally flawed roster, how their pitching is horrible and there is nobody within a million miles in their system ready to step in, how this team has gone from perennial contender to being one of the worst teams in baseball in three of the last five years.
Better to talk about something fun.
In the original rules of baseball, there was no innings limit. The first team to score 21 runs won. This went away because one of the early teams in the league, led by maverick young general manager Jon Daniels in the 1880s, created a pitching staff that was so woeful, his teams routinely gave up 21 runs before the home team got to bat, forcing the host team to refund all monies to angry fans.
Six balls to a walk. Or, what was commonly known as the Martin Perez rule.
Any pitch hitting a batter was simply a ball. Every pitcher was instructed to throw the first five pitches at a batter’s head. By that time, he was so scared to stand in the box, the next three pitches were strikes no matter what.
If a ball was caught after one bounce, fair or foul, it was an out. This wouldn’t affect the modern day Rangers since they are unable to put a ball into play.
Foul balls were not counted as strikes. Elias Sports Bureau, the official statisticians of Major League Baseball ran a model. If this rule was still in effect in 2018, the Rangers would still strike out more than 11 times per game.
There were no sacrifice flies. That would cripple the Rangers because that is how they score more than 80 percent of their runs. Getting a hit with a runner at third is not in the rules, apparently.
And, batters could call for a pitch to be thrown high or low. Unless Matt Moore was on the mound, then it didn’t matter. You can call your pitches all day, he has absolutely no idea where they are going once they leave his hand.
By the early 1900s, the rules were tweaked and they evolved to the game we see today. The home run derby.
Maybe progress isn’t always such a good thing.
Mike Minor (3-2, 4.73) vs. Mike Leake (4-3, 5.72)
Game time: 9:10