Excerpt: 'Mike and Mike's Rules for Sports and Life'

GOLIC: Look, I'm as much a proponent of instant replay as you are. Do I want them to dive in with both feet and replay everything? Absolutely not. But what I think baseball could do is try replay out in the spring training games for more than just home run calls. Doesn't mean you have to put it in place once the regular season starts, but I think that's where you need to start trying. Try it. It can't hurt.

GREENY: Those are two good, new rules. But our work is not done, because there are other rules in baseball that I wouldn't necessarily want changed, I simply want them clarified. I want them to make sense. Take the rule on tags, for example.

GOLIC: What's your problem? Everyone knows what a tag is.

GREENY: Let's look at what the official rulebook of Major League Baseball has to say about it.

A tag is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove; or touching the runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove.
Official Baseball Rules, Rule 2.00 Definition of terms

GOLIC: Man, that's a lot of words.

GREENY: For you it is, so I'll translate: If you hold the ball securely and touch the runner with it or touch the base, he's out.

GOLIC: See, that isn't always true. Take a collision at the plate, like Pete Rose blowing up Ray Fosse in the All-Star Game. If that is indeed the rule, then Pete Rose and every other runner should be out if the catcher has the ball—"firmly and securely," like the rulebook says—even if he gets blown up as he makes the tag and loses the ball. If the umpire calls the runner safe, then according to the exact words in the rulebook, it's the wrong call.

GREENY: I think in that case, an argument can be made that the runner jarred the ball loose.

GOLIC: It doesn't say that in the rules.

GREENY: I understand that, but if the runner jars the ball loose, did the catcher really have the ball securely when the tag was being made? If I am tagging you, and I've got the ball securely and I touch you with the ball, and in my touching you, you knock it right out of my mitt, then I didn't really have it when I touched you, did I?

GOLIC: If you're the catcher and I'm coming around to score, you really think you're holding on to the ball? Or are you curling up in a fetal position before I round third?

GREENY: That's not the point.

GOLIC: Okay, but let's say—just for the sake of argument—that there's a play at the plate, you have the ball in your mitt, you get completely run over but you somehow manage to hold on to the ball "firmly and securely." You hit the ground, and then the ball comes loose and pops out. What's the call? The runner is safe. Always.

Don't get me wrong—that's the correct call. But it seems that if you go by the exact words of the official rulebook, you're not so sure.

GREENY: Rules should be easy to understand and simple to follow, and one obvious advantage of the Mike and Mike Rule is its clarity. Nine simple words. What's more, rules should be written down. No doubt baseball has more unwritten rules than any other sport, but they only serve to complicate things, which is the exact opposite of what good rules are meant to do. Which unwritten rules am I supposed to follow? Which ones is the other guy following? Is he getting pissed off at me because I broke an unwritten rule that he's keeping and I'm not? Which rule? It's maddening.

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