For me, Baseball Reference is one of the top baseball resources I use for stats, rule verification, historical facts, and everything else in between the foul lines of a baseball field. I was thinking about all the “amazing” changes that professional baseball is working on to “improve” the game and one rule came to mind. The ground rule double or automatic double, according to Baseball Reference (www.baseball-reference.com) reads like this:
“A ground rule double is a double awarded by the umpire because a fair ball became unplayable according the the ground rules of the ballpark. The ground rules technically only cover ways in which the ball can become unplayable, such as becoming lodged in the ivy at Wrigley Field; the rulebook specifies that the award is always two bases. The only exception to the two base rule is in the now very uncommon case of overflow crowds placed in cordoned off sections of the playing field, in which case the managers may agree on other base awards.
A ground rule double in either the actual or colloquial sense allows all runners to advance exactly two bases from when the play began. A runner from first base is thus required to stop at third, even if he obviously could have scored had the ball not gone out of play. This rigid awarding of bases distinguishes automatic doubles from fan interference, in which the umpire is free to award as many bases to each player as he deems the player would have attained without the interference.“
Also stated on the Baseball Reference site is that up until 1931, these doubles hit that bounced over the fence were counted as home runs. If you can imagine a ball hit hard enough and far enough and with enough top spin to hit the outfield area, then bounce over a wall or fence, that is truly worthy of automatic bases. So, why not change the rule to make this stinging and incredible line drive hit an automatic TRIPLE!!!
A triple is a fair compromise between a home run (4 bases, old rule pre-1931) and a double (2 bases, new rule 1931-present). Clearly, if the baseball was hit hard enough and far enough to hop over the left center field fence, the batter deserves a real reward, a TRIPLE. And, if there are any runners on base, with a ball hit that hard, clearly they would all score on a hit such as this. So, clear the bases and give the hitter a TRIPLE.
If a ball lands under the fence and the outfielder cannot retrieve it, they are supposed to raise their hands alerting the umpire that the ball is obstructed and the play should be called “dead.” In this case, the runner is awarded an automatic double and the runners on base are moved up per an umpire’s discretion. This obstruction rule can stay in place, as it promotes fairness in the field of play.
However, a line shot to right center field, which lands 370 feet from home plate, then bounces like a jackrabbit into the stands for a young fan to catch, should (in my opinion) warrant a 3 base award, a TRIPLE. Every runner that is on base can/should trot home and high-five the bat boy/girl on their way to the dugout. The batter, after hitting a crushing ball that would still be rolling had there not have been a fence or bleachers, jogs with a big smile over to 3rd base with a Ground Rule Triple!!!
What are your thoughts? Message me on social media or via email and I will gladly debate the ground rule triple, one way I feel could really add to this “re-invention of baseball.”
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