Doink, Ballgame, Twice

Ran across this tweet from Jayson Stark this morning:

Side note: Jayson’s article on the baseball rule book was one of the key inspirations for our book which this blog supports. He is a heck of a nice guy and ever was gracious enough to give some early feedback on the project.

Back to his tweet. Runners rarely get hit by ground balls. It rarely happens twice in a day. It super rarely ends a game. It beyond belief rarely happens to end a game twice in a day.

First the rule, which is pretty straight forward. Rule 7.08(f)

7.08 Any runner is out when—

(f) He is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance. EXCEPTION: If a runner is touching his base when touched by an Infield Fly, he is not out, although the batter is out;

The only real tough part is when a runner is touching a base. Unless an infield fly, that runner is out. Most people think the base is a safe haven – it is not.

MLB media put both plays in one clip.

The second video in the clip ended the D’Backs and Dodgers game. The runner on first base was moving with the pitch. He appears to have a ball magnet in his pants. The ball finds him and the game ends. Great thing about this is that you get to hear the awesome Vin Scully make the call. He was on top of it from the get go.

One fun thing about this rule is the scoring. It is actually a base hit for the batter. Check out the play by play and see the game ends on a single.

The Giants/Angles end was a bit more dramatic. Runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs in a one run game. The Angels hit a ball that might make it to right field (granted the Giants had a shift on). We will never know as the ball hit the runner. Game over.

In the dugout starter Tim Hudson gave a sly smile acknowledging the oddness of the play. It was the 215th career win for Tim Hudson. This is not a stat blog or a general baseball blog. But, Tim Hudson is going to fall into a group of pitchers that will make for very interesting Hall of Fame discussions. The magic win number for pitchers is traditionally 300. But, the 300 win pitcher is quickly going away.

Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index (subscribe to it and you will be happy), I see that Hudson is one of 22 pitchers to amass over 200 wins from 1980 to present. Only 4 of those guys have 300 and all of their careers started in the ’80s. Only 4 of the 22 started their career after 1998 – and none of them will get to 300 wins. The writers will have to re-calibrate what it means to be an HOF pitcher from this era.

Another side note for this post. Tim Hudson’s wife and I actually attended the same high school. The high school averages about 120 graduates per year so there are not a ton of us in the wild.

We did not run in the same circles (I am a statistician who spends his free time umpiring, so one can imagine my high school circle was pretty small), but there is a better than average chance she would recognize me in public. She does a lot of great charity work making the corn fields of north central Indiana proud.

Kim – if you read this – drop me a line and I will send you a free copy of my book. Page 54 covers the play that ended the game last night. For the rest of you, head to our website to see samples, submit questions, and see ordering information.

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