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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flip Flop Fly Ball: Diamonds Aren’t Forever – Five Base Baseball?

From the comments: How is this post not named, “Who’s on fourth?”—“No, Who’s on first. How’s on fourth!”

OK, this is a totally dumb idea.  But how would our favorite game [...] be different if there were five bases, with each of them still being 90 feet apart[?]  The infield would look something like this:

bobm Posted: May 25, 2013 at 11:43 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: what if

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 25, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4452034)
Don't mess with the genius of Abner Doubleday, but perhaps some folks should try a game of pentagonball just to confirm what a bad idea it is.
   2. bjhanke Posted: May 25, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4452064)
Well, let's see. It would collapse long-sequence offense, reducing run scoring to a contest of home runs worse than the 1950s.

It would take one of the essential tensions out of the game - the Race for the Run. What I mean by RftR is this: if you get your leadoff man on first base, and you just sacrifice him along, one base for one out, you will not score as long as the third out is a strikeout, a force out (including throwing the batter out at first), a caught fly ball or something really rare. You have to do something to gain an extra base without making an out (it counts if the leadoff man gets an extra base hit). That, to me, is the essential tension in baseball. With five bases, it's gone, unless you go to four outs per inning.

That ought to be enough to squelch the idea. But here's one I've played with for a while. What people complain about now is games too long, starting pitchers never finish, too many relief pitchers on the roster, too many pitching changes in the game. You can solve ALL of those with one rule change. It's simple to understand and simple to implement. No changes in equipment or ballparks or anything like that. Just reduce the number of innings in a game from nine to eight. Not going to happen, but still beats hell out of five bases. - Brock Hanke
   3. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 25, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4452075)
Reminiscent of the idea a while back to have both teams on the field simultaneously.
   4. Steve Treder Posted: May 25, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4452106)
I love Flip Flop Fly Ball. Always fun and interesting.
   5. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: May 25, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4452128)
Why not? They've already tried cutting back to three bases.
   6. John DiFool2 Posted: May 25, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4452275)
They'd have to have deep fences in this alternate universe of course, so that there's plenty of action on the bases.

I do wonder about contingency in how a sport forms; you could liken the process to punctuated equilibrium, a rapid series of changes early on in a sport's formative years, followed by decades of relative statis. I mean, how did it come about that stolen bases have generally had their caught stealing percentages right near (reasonably near) the break-even point most every season? 85 foot bases and the percentage is 90%; 95 foot bases and it is 50%, and thus steal attempts are very rare. Was it just a fluke that it is usually 65-70% (higher now of course)? Did various rule changes cause that (esp. the balk rules)?
   7. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: May 25, 2013 at 10:16 PM (#4452281)
It's the first step down the slippery slope to Calvinball.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: May 25, 2013 at 10:23 PM (#4452285)
I mean, how did it come about that stolen bases have generally had their caught stealing percentages right near (reasonably near) the break-even point most every season? 85 foot bases and the percentage is 90%; 95 foot bases and it is 50%, and thus steal attempts are very rare. Was it just a fluke that it is usually 65-70% (higher now of course)?


It's possible it's somewhat natural, that the distance between the bases (and the ease of the stolen base) will track with the overall breakeven point. In other words, if bases were only 85 feet apart, scoring would be easier, and thus you had to be sure to almost certain of success to make an attempt worthwhile. At 95 feet, scoring would be more difficult, and thus the break-even would be lower.

On the other hand, it's also possible that Red Smith was simply correct.
   9. The District Attorney Posted: May 25, 2013 at 11:21 PM (#4452303)
But if the bases weren't exactly 90 feet apart, there wouldn't be nearly as many exciting close plays, so it was a brilliant decision to make it 90 feet.

Announcers have been telling me that for decades!

It would take one of the essential tensions out of the game - the Race for the Run. What I mean by RftR is this...
Don't let Bill James see you write like that.

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