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Baseball Has a Glaring Flaw in Its Rules

I have found a gaping hole in the rules and laws of baseball. When you know the flaw, you won’t be able to ignore it, and you will wonder why teams haven’t tried to exploit this, just once. It all has to do with equipment regulations, or more specifically, baserunning equipment regulations. It’s brilliant (if I say so myself) and something I had to keep a secret, otherwise there would be madness on the basepaths.

In boxing, the competitors wear shorts with rather large waistbands. This is because any shot below the waistline is classified as “below the belt” and therefore an illegal hit. I don’t pretend to know boxing or the rules (I despise fighting sports), but this is one I’m pretty sure about. It probably leads to points deductions or a fine or a yellow card or a sinbin (imagine a two-minute penalty box in boxing, with one opponent dancing around the ring on his own… anyway…). Essentially, hitting below the belt is bad, so boxers try and maximize the size of their waistband and try to pull their shorts as high as possible.

In baseball, there are regulations on the size of a bat, the size of a glove, the way players and coaches dress themselves, their conduct during play, and the distance between the pitchers mound and home plate (thankfully the field dimensions are a recommendation and not specified like NFL/NBA etc, which allows for great and different ballparks to be made), and they are all laid out for everyone to see.

There is a piece of equipment that doesn’t have a set of dimensions or regulations. This small and insignificant bit of swag is the baserunning mitt, the single oven glove, the nubbin, the sock puppet, whatever you call it. It’s the thing you see those folks who like their fingers not to be treated to a studding from the baseman’s cleats wear while running the bases. It fits over one of their hands, and they use that hand to lead when sliding head-first into the bases.

While watching a game in the postseason, I noticed a hitter reach first base and be handed one of these mitts by one of the equipment guys. As he placed the device onto his hand, I couldn’t help but notice the size of it. It looked considerably bigger than the others I had laid eyes on previously. It then made me wonder, what length of mitt could you get away with before umpires start noticing? Clearly the ideal solution would be to have a 90-foot mitt on the end of your hand and simply tap the next base while being stood at your current location. Clearly this would attract a lot of attention, as the equipment guy comes out of the dugout, holding it horizontally over his two arms, bumping into umpires and players on the way out to second base. Read the rest of this entry »