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Home » August 2006 Game CommentsAugust 2006 » Faithful


Game 132: August 29, 2006
Red Sox (71-61), 1
Athletics (76-56), 2
L: Josh Beckett (14-9)
W: Kirk Saarloos (7-6)
H: Kiko Calero (20)
H: Joe Kennedy (8)
S: Justin Duchscherer (6)

So, yesterday I said, “Even if Oakland had only a two-run lead, the game would still seem unwinnable.” I didn’t really mean it. Until Doug Mirabelli hacked at the backup closer’s last pitch I truly believed the Red Sox would prevail.

Such is the nature of faith. It knows knows no bounds, like how foul lines used to extend to infinity. Ah, the good old days, when there was a complementary 90 degrees of foul territory behind home plate.

That was never actually the case, mind you. I was researching the definition of foul territory and uncovered this bit of history from Interesting Baseball Issues and Facts:

With the exception of a couple of months at the start of the 1920 season, from 1906 to 1930 the foul lines were “infinitely long”: A fly ball over the fence had to land in fair territory (as determined by the infinitely long foul lines), or be fair when last seen by the umpire, in order to be a home run.

The rule is now found in Section 6.09d and was changed to its current state in 1930:

A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more. Such hit entitles the batter to a home run when he shall have touched all bases legally. A fair fly ball that passes out of the playing field at a point less than 250 feet from home base shall entitle the batter to advance to second base only.

Am I reading that wrong? It seems to me that seems to say that there can be ground-rule homers as long as the ball was hit 250 feet or more. I read the rest of 6.09, and nothing else seemed to contradict my interpretation.

The Red Sox could have used some ground-rule home runs last night. For the ninth game in a row of the team had ten or fewer hits, but at least they were able to score a run. In the sixth, Kevin Youkilis propelled a two-out double into mid-right field near the foul line. Eric Hinske muscled a grounder past Kirk Saarloos into shallow center and Youkilis hustled to halve the run deficit.

Carlos Peña laced his first hit as a Red Sox player into center with one down in the seventh and advanced on a single by Mirabelli that just cleared the hole between Eric Chavez and Marco Scutaro.

Ken Macha brought out Kiko Calero to face Dustin Pedroia, who grounded out but advanced the runners. The struggling Coco Crisp (.311 OBP for the month of August, which is actually up from his July percentage) struck out to kill the nascent rally.

Most pitchers’ duels have a few defensive dazzlers to their credit, and this match-up was no exception.

In the bottom of the fourth, after Oakland had scored the first run of the game on a two-out double by their shortstop, Crisp made a stupendous catch of a fast-falling Jay Payton fly. Crisp covered an incredible amount of ground on his route and timed his last-second leap perfectly. Following the nab, the center fielder slid another five feet or so, such was his momentum. Josh Beckett actually yelled, “Wow!”

Manny Delcarmen relieved Beckett in the eighth and waged a monumental 13-pitch standoff against Frank Thomas. Thomas eventually prevailed on a line drive single to Youkilis, who promptly relayed to Alex Cora. Cora flawlessly positioned himself for receipt of the ball, turned, and fired to home plate on one bounce to an expectant Mirabelli. Mark Kotsay had an unpleasant encounter with catcher’s shinguards and ball embraced by glove waiting for him at home plate.

Beckett deserved a “wow” of his own. He lasted for seven solid innings, compiling a line of five hits, two earned runs, three walks, and four strikeouts. Despite the cut to his middle finger, Beckett was able to snap off his curveball. The fireballer seemed more confident with Mirabelli as his backstop, a fact that Terry Francona should note. I hope Beckett will be able to use that digit upon his return to Boston to flip off the motorist who got into an accident with Jon Lester on Storrow Drive, causing the rookie’s back injury.

Sad as it may seem to focus on these minor triumphs, at least the events of this game shows they have the talent to accomplish plays that will eventually win games for them.

Faith, unlike foul lines, will always extend endlessly, no matter what the rules say.


The reason for the rule specification is because ballpark dimensions use to be much more extreme. The rule is actually referring to balls which cross over the fence on the fly, not ones which bounce out of play. So if a ball leaves the park in fair territory over a wall which is less than 250 ft from home plate (like along the lines at Chicago's Lakefront Park for example), that ball would be ruled a double and not a home run.

And you thought Colorado was a good hitter's park...

I read that rule incorrectly, but it should be more concisely restated to: "A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more on the fly."

But I suppose there is some nuance in the definition of "fair ball" that might cover that phrase?

What I take that rule to mean is: You're not allowed to have any part of the wall--in fair territory--be less than 250 ft from home plate, or else you're only gonna get a double if it goes over at that point.

It seems I am in the minority with my interpretation of the rule. But you can see how it can be read differently, right? To me, "passes over" or "passes out" doesn't equate to "on the fly."

The league did institute a minimum wall distance prior to this one, however it only stated walls by at least 215 ft from home plate.

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