[Update] Joe Maddon was asked about the possibility of changing the ground rules before the playoffs (via The Heater)…

“I honestly believe that if we were to get to the playoffs you might see some real strong consideration or more thought given to changing something now,” Maddon said. “I think that’s possible. I do. Truly, just think about a game being won or lost – just say it were the seventh game – and say that game was impacted by that, both sides would be yelling bloody murder.”

[9:30pm] The Trop is quirky. The most famous (notorious?) of these quirks are the catwalks. And a few times a year a batted ball strikes one of the catwalks. We laugh when it benefits the Rays and we usually shrug our shoulders when they don’t. But rarely do the catwalks have such a pronounced effect on the outcome of a game as yesterday in which a pop-up with 2 outs in the 9th inning of a tie game hit a catwalk, fell fair and scored the go-ahead run for the Twins. And never before have the catwalks impacted a pennant race.

Yes, this is a knee-jerk reaction, but maybe it is time to revisit the ground rules with respect to batted balls striking the catwalks.

Before we continue, let’s review the catwalk ground rules:

  • There are four rings, dubbed A-D moving out from the center with the A-ring closest to the center of the roof and the D-ring closest to the outer walls.
  • Any ball that strikes a catwalk in foul territory is a foul ball.
  • If a batted ball strikes the C- or D-ring in fair territory, it is ruled a home run.
  • If a batted ball strikes the A- or B-ring and lands in fair territory, it is a live ball.

The ground rules on the C- and D-ring seem fair as they are beyond the field of play.

But what about the A- and B-rings? Is it fair that a batted ball can strike and be deflected by a catwalk and still be a live ball? Especially considering that in most cases, these are routine flyballs.

We feel there are two options that make more sense for the A- and B-rings

  1. Treat every batted ball that strikes the A- or B-rings like fan interference. In other words, if the umpire deems that the ball would have been caught, then the batter will be ruled out. Or…
  2. Rule all batted balls that strike the A- or B-ring an automatic do-over. We can call this the “Cowboys Stadium Rule,” where any punt that strikes the scoreboard are replayed.

Either of these options are better than the current “Pinball Rule.” And yes, this is just the second time a ball has struck the A-ring. But certainly it is better to revisit the rules now, than after a game-changing play during the playoffs.

Losing yesterday’s game was embarrassing enough.

 
 

15 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    The rules are fine as they are. Sometimes the ball will hit the rings, but it is very rare, and even rarer that a ring would change the outcome of a game. The truth is, we lost yesterday because Wade pitched poorly. Get over it and move on to the next game.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I know it is rare and that is what I have always said in defense of the catwalks. But can you imagine if yesterday was a playoff or World Series game? Think about the uproar of the missed call that cost Galarraga a perfect game and multiply that by a billion.

  2. Joe D. says:

    Seems hypocritical that we call the yanks and dead sox whiners when they complain about the trop, now it costs the rays a game and we whine.

    How about this Benoit doesn’t give up a lead off double that run probably doesn’t score. He strikes him out that run doesn’t score. He doesn’t leave the mound knowing what his home stadium can do with a towering infield fly, he has a chance to field it.

    Just hypocritical, and retrospective…

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Like I mentioned above, none of the previous incidents with the catwalks impacted a pennant race. If the Rays won a playoff game with the help of a catwalk, I would certainly take it, but it would be embarrassing as hell. And if the Rays went on to win a championship everybody else will put an asterisk next to it. NOBODY wants that.

  3. Preston says:

    I agree with this. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Those A-B ring rules don’t make a lot of sense to me.

  4. Pinto says:

    I’m guessing the probability of a ball hitting the A-ring again is about the same probability of Jason Bartlett hitting a pinch hit grand slam again…

    There was no guarantee, even if Bartlett catches that ball and it goes into the bottom of the 9th tied, that the Rays win that game. They tied the game in the bottom of the 9th the night before and still lost. That ball hitting the A-ring did not cause the Rays to lose, the Rays did.

    My point being, I’m more upset about the things the Rays CAN control, like their lack of hitting until the 8th inning, or lackluster pitching at the start of the game.

    The rules as they are now are fine. There should be no changes? Do overs? The possibilities there are much worse. Opposing team pops up and hits the ring…do over…next pitch he hits a HR. You’d have to take the good with the bad…

  5. Gus says:

    There is no doubt that the Rays would be a tad hypocritical to change it now, but they absolutely have to do it. The rule has always been insane; it was instituted in a panic in 1998 and nobody has focused on it. The world has changed a lot since then. It needs to be fixed for the fairness of future games.

    Umpires make these rulings all the time on interference and infield fly; one more rare call to make the park play better.

  6. Justin says:

    This is insane. You don’t build a new stadium because there are catwalks. Does anyone do cost/benefit analyses anymore? We have a functioning stadium with annoying catwalks. OK, so do something about the catwalks, don’t blow up the whole thing. Do you think this is monopoly money?

    This is a ownership group that can’t serve food in a sanitary manner, and a group that wants us to build a new stadium so that they can make a profit. Now, it is being argued that we need a new stadium because one minor aspect is annoying. Again, do something about the specific problem we’re talking about, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Using the catwalks to justify a new stadium is a logically flawed argument. Are there logically valid arguments for a new stadium? Yes, but this isn’t one of them. Cover the catwalks, shield them, but build a new stadium? No.

    • Justin says:

      So this is what Henderson says, “But there are people who periodically argue that the Trop is just fine. They just lost the argument. The Trop is not fine. The Trop needs to be bulldozed, replaced by a stadium where the players – not flawed engineers – determine who wins and loses.”

      Unfortunately for him he offers no actual argument for why we should bulldoze the place. Not only that but he undermines his argument by mentioning the Green Monster in Fenway. Additionally, every time this has benefited the Rays in the past, they, as Maddon says, found it “cute” instead of a reason to dump the Trop.

      BS. Hypocritical BS.

      This country is seriously lacking in formal logic education.

  7. To me, the whining from the Rays, Maddon, etc… does sound a lot like the Yankees and Red Sox complaining. There is certainly no guarantee that the Rays would’ve won the game anyways. What part of 6-0 do the Rays blame the catwalk on? What part of short bullpen do Rays blame the catwalk on? To me, that’s the true problem, not one pinball catwalk. Honestly, Maddon sounded like a sore loser yesterday.

  8. Gus says:

    I don’t blame Maddon for being totally bummed; but as Gardenhire duly noted, it was cosmic justice for the 2007 game where it went against the Twins. Maddon should steer clear of the stadium controversy, but couldn’t help himself. He comes off not so good to the press, but he probably had to say something to have his team’s back.

    As I’ve noted before, your position on the stadium location can be predicted 90% of the time by your address. Henderson and Maddon live in Tampa. Of course they want a Tampa stadium.

    But sometimes an injustice can spur action. The loss is on management, not the players or even the building. The Rays can set the ground rules in their park, subject to MLB sign off. I have to believe they are having those conversations right now, so that the games can be played more fairly in the future, despite how rarely it happens.

  9. Gus says:

    Good work Cork getting Joe to get folks working on this. It has to be done, preferably ASAP.

    If the Rays are looking for precedent, they changed the ground rules (on more than one occasion) in 1998 DURING the season (and may have changed again in 1999). Ground rules can be set on a game by game basis (usually because of unique conditions to the grounds) and don’t necessarily have to wait until the end of the season. I’m not 100% sure, but I seem to remember there being different ground rules when football season started in some of the muliti-purpose parks of the 1970′s like Pittsburgh and Philly.

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