Game 3 of the 2013 World Series ended with an obstruction call. It was the correct call. But it was still odd.
Game 4 of the 2013 World Series ended with a pickoff play at first base. It wasn't a questionable call at all. But it was still most certainly odd.
In the latter example, a rookie tried to get a substantial secondary lead, even though his run wasn't the tying run, but got picked off, taking the bat out of the hands of one of history's greatest postseason hitters. It was like the baseball equivalent of driving a tractor off a skyscraper just to see what happens in a game of Grand Theft Auto. In an alternate reality, Wong's game went back to the checkpoint without anyone noticing, and Carlos Beltran hit a home run we'll talk about for decades.
In this reality, we all get to point and yell at the rookie. Because, man. That isn't the kind of play that can happen unless you just want to see what it feels like.
In the wake of Games 4 and 5, I started jotting down notes on possible endings to Game 5. An incomplete sample:
- catcher's interference
- a baseball hitting Matt Holliday right in the ol' ambassador
- Komodo dragons
- Imagine Dragons
Wasn't sure where I was going with some of those -- there were hundreds -- but they all would have made sense in this wacky World Series context. Alas, there's already a pulsing consciousness of baseball nerdery devoted to such an enterprise. And it's a pretty danged good collection of nonsense.
Instead, let's look at all the different ways players can make outs and see how close we are to the pinnacle of ridiculousness. There are infinite ways for hitters to reach base -- fielders stepping on pigeons and dropping the ball, and so forth -- so that list would be too long. But there aren't as many ways a hitter can be called out. Let's see if there are any more ridiculous ways to be called out left. Heck, because this is the Internet, let's rank them. Most are more ridiculous than obstruction.
10. Appeal play to third base on a sacrifice fly
It's rarely called. And it should only ever be called is if the umpire would be confident enough to offer his pet beagle to the baseball gods as a penalty for blowing the call. If you don't see it, you don't even think about calling it. Yet I've seen umpires blow the call horribly.
I've also seen 493,298 different appeals to third base in this situation, where the umpire makes an annoyed safe sign, and the replay confirms the runner didn't leave early. So imagine a game that ends on a successful appeal to third. Then imagine it's an incorrect call. Oh, you wacky human element. Let's see what you got.
Also, beagles are like popcorn shrimp to the baseball gods.
9. Appeal to a base after a runner fails to touch it
This is the first cousin of the last one. Like the appeal after a sac fly, the umpire had better be sure the runner missed the base. There's a strong chance for chicanery on a call like this. This is probably the nexus of "not totally crazy" and "still crazy," just ahead of obstruction.
8. The runner passes a preceding runner who is not out
It happened this year:
It's probably close to triple-play rare, that. If it happened to end a World Series game, we would all ascend in the Rapture, and wouldn't care if we ever got back.
7. Batting out of order
Again, this happened in a game this year.
But that was at the beginning of the game. There's a chance that Don Mattingly wouldn't have given a rip if Buster Posey made an out. Once Posey got the RBI, though, Mattingly came out to plead his case. It was like a quarterback throwing 40 yards downfield because he knows the other team jumped offsides. He held on to the card just in case he needed it.
At the end of a game, though, it would have to take special buffoonery to bat out of order. Not only would two players have to get it wrong, but everyone on the bench would need to be so oblivious, they let it happen.
I would very much like this to happen, by the way.
6. The batter hits while one foot is entirely outside of the batter's box
Seems implausible. But it almost happened:
Guillen's squeeze bunt scored Rickey Henderson with the winning run in Game 3 of the American League division series Friday at Safeco Field, knocking out the White Sox and sending the Mariners into Tuesday's American League Championship Series opener against the defending champion New York Yankees. ￼
￼ Replays showed Guillen's right foot was on home plate at the time, meaning he should have been called out for being out of the batter's box. Plate umpire Tim McClelland missed it, as did most of the 48,010 fans who were watching the bunt land beyond a diving Frank Thomas. Even Guillen didn't realize he was illegal.
Seems impossible, right? The Mariners in the playoffs? So weird. Also, the part about Guillen stepping on home during a crucial squeeze. It would be much, much more entertaining than an obstruction call or a pickoff at first base, and those were plenty entertaining.
5. Hitter using an altered bat
Sammy Sosa, for example. Oh, Sammy Sosa.
You might remember Sammy Sosa as one of the two superheroes who saved baseball from the depths of a volcano. You might remember him as someone with a hilarious Pinterest page or his unquenchable bloodthirst. But for a few people, he'll be the guy who corked his bat. People used to get really fired up about that. Bat corking was like proto-steroids.
Now imagine it ending a World Series game. Imagine umpires collecting pieces of Luis Gonzalez's bat in 2001 and ordering everyone back on the field. Not that Gonzalez did anything in real life. Hypothetically, though. Oh, man, it would be the best.
4. The Vinnie Catricala Rule
If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter’s box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball and strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out.
Rule 6.02(c) Comment: The umpire shall give the batter a reasonable opportunity to take his proper position in the batter’s box after the umpire has called a strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c) and before the umpire calls a successive strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c).
Them's the rules. And that video is amazing. Now we have to guess which player is most likely to stand out of the batter's box, icily staring at the umpire while racking up strikes, and …
Puig? Puig. It would probably be Yasiel Puig. Dammit, Puig ...
3. The Germany Schaefer Rule
These days, we call it The Jean Segura Rule.
And the actual rule:
Any runner is out when … after he has acquired legal possession of a base, he runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game.
A travesty of the game. That's a phrase in the rulebook. And it's never once been invoked to describe a bat flip. Seems like the time is nigh ..
… Rosenthal is ready. He sets. And Victorino moves into the other batter's box before the pitch and SLASHES A BALL DOWN THE LEFT-FIELD LINE. ONE RUN WILL SCORE. TWO RUNS WILL SCORE. AND THE RED SOX WILL WIN THE 2013 WOR … NO, WAIT, THE UMPIRES ARE CALLING HIM OUT. THE UMPIRES ARE … AND NOW A MANTICORE MADE OF ASH AND OBSIDIAN IS ON THE FIELD, SAVAGELY BITING THE HEADS OFF OF EVERYONE WHO HASN'T SCRAMBLED FOR COVER. OH, NO. OH, NO NO NO. AND NOW VICTORINO IS ATOP THE MANTICORE, WIELDING A FLAMING SCEPTER AND SMITING THE RIGHTEOUS AS THEY BEG FOR MERCY
1. If runner is touched by an Infield Fly when he is not touching his base, both runner and batter are out
Maybe the switching-boxes one is more unlikely, but this is the one with poetry. It's an actual rule. Think about an infield fly. The ball has to be in the air long enough for an umpire to worry about a fielder scheming to get two outs for the price of one. It's not the infield line-drive rule. It has to be in the air for a long, long time.
Now think of the runner who gets hit by that ball. Is he frozen, paralyzed with fear? Is he running back and forth, caught in the game's greatest display of indecision? Did he trip, possibly breaking his ankle, as the ball callously lands on his face while he's writhing in pain? Are there slow-motion replays of the ball maybe/maybe not touching the runner, and we have to do back-and-to-the-left-back-and-to-the-left recreations of what happened?
Think of a reason, any reason at all, why this rule exists.
Which means it's not going to happen at the end of Game 5. Don't be silly.
It's going to happen at the end of Game 7. It's like a mathematical progression. Starts with the obstruction, continues with the pickoffs, ends with the infield-fly double play. Let's come back here to chat about it, okay?
Especially if there's something even wackier.
oh please oh please oh please oh please