Commentary

Page 2 looks at baseball's obscure rules

Originally Published: July 11, 2010
By Matt Lindner | Special to Page 2

Batting coach Don Mattingly had just wrapped up a visit to the mound and was heading back to the dugout when first baseman James Loney called him back to ask him a question, and San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy pounced.

Even though the umpires hadn't seen it initially, Bochy claimed Mattingly's journey was in violation of baseball's rule book. And instant replay showed Bochy was right.

Rule 8.06: "A manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber."

As soon as Mattingly's foot hit the dirt surrounding pitcher Jonathan Broxton, he was obligated to take his All-Star closer out with his team up by one and the bases loaded.

His replacement, the recently-waived George Sherrill did exactly what you'd expect a player who was just deemed expendable would do -- he gave up the lead, giving up a two-run double that would eventually propel the Giants to a remarkable come-from-behind win.

Baseball's rulebook is filled with obscure and unusual rules. Here's a look at some others:

Rule 8.04(b): The 12-Second Rule

This rarely enforced rule states that when the pitcher receives the ball back from the catcher and the bases are empty, a pitcher has 12 seconds to get rid of it. If he's not quick, it can prove costly -- if a pitcher violates the rule, a ball is added to the pitch count.

Rule 3.09: Whatever you do, do not talk to anyone

Not only is it frowned upon, it is apparently considered illegal as well. According this rule, players are forbidden from talking to anyone except their own teammates. They're also not allowed to sit in the stands either.

Rule 4.03(a): The catcher must stay behind the plate

A catcher's place is, of course, behind the plate, and he's not free to roam prior to the pitch. This rule states that both of the catcher's feet must be inside the catcher's box behind home plate before the pitch is thrown. If they're not, the umpire can call a balk.

Rule 4.09(b): Hurry up and get home

This one appears to be designed to prevent excessive celebrations on walk-off victories. Basically the ominously named "PENALTY" section of the rule states that "If the runner on third refuses to advance to and touch home base in a reasonable time, the umpire shall disallow the run, call out the offending player and order the game resumed." In other words, save the excessive celebrations for the clubhouse, and get to home plate ASAP.

Rules 5.09 (g) and (h): Watch yourself behind the plate

It doesn't happen often, but it could and the result could mean big things for the offense. This rule states that if a pitch gets stuck in the umpire's or catcher's mask with runners on base and remains that way, everyone gets to move up one. Runners also get to advance if a pitch hits a runner trying to steal home. However as former Phillies and Giants' lefthander Terry Mulholland will tell you, if a batted ball gets stuck in your glove, you can still toss your glove to first to get the putout, as he did on Sept. 3, 1986. He got the out.

Matt Lindner is a freelance writer for Sports Media Exchange, a national freelance writing network.