Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stupid rule? Not when you had been warned

If I hear one more person say the rule is stupid I'm going to scream.

I am referring to Rule 7.05 (g) of the Baseball Rule Book that says a ball lodged in equipment in the bullpen is ruled a dead ball and runners are awarded two bases from where they were when the pitch was thrown.

So, the wild throw from Boston pitcher Danial Bard that sailed past Red Sox first baseman Victor Martinez in the eighth inning Tuesday night and made its way into an equipment bag in the Rays bullpen was ruled the same as a ground rule double and cost the Rays a run in a game they would eventually win 4-2 in 13 innings.

To say it all started with the sacrifice bunt by Willy Aybar would be misleading.

It actually started a while ago when the Rays were told by umpires to keep the bullpen area clear of bags and jackets and whatever else relief pitchers carry down there.

They didn't.

So there we were Tuesday in the bottom of the eighth, the score tied at 2-2 and Ben Zobrist on first.

Aybar dropped a bunt in front of the plate. Bard picked up the ball and threw it past Martinez and down the right field line where it bounced into the Rays bullpen.

The bullpen at the Trop is in play. The ball can rattle around out there like a pinball, bouncing off the bench, chair legs and the wall. As the long as the ball isn't lodged in the padding of the four-foot wall, it's in play.

Unless it rolls into an equipment bag, which, this ball did.

Rays manager Joe Maddon couldn't argue, because he knew the rule and he knew he had been warned in the past.

Yeah, Zobrist had scored before the ball became lodged, but, what are you going to do? A stupid rule?


But had the Rays relievers kept the area free of bags and whatnot, we would never have learned of the rule's existence.

And maybe we would have been home at a decent hour.

But then we would have missed Evan Longoria's 13th inning home run, and that was worth the wait.

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