Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Athletic: The inside dirt on infield dirt: MLB addressing its ‘dirty little secret’ in wake of new shift rule [$]

It turns out that all big-league infields are not created equally. In fact, they’ve never been created equally. This sounds crazy, right? But multiple sources have confirmed it’s true.

There is an obscure rule in baseball’s official rulebook that mentions what those infields are supposed to look like and where you’re supposed to find — and not find — the infield dirt. But guess what?

According to sources familiar with all of this, that rule has never been thought about much, let alone enforced. So in some major-league parks, the infield dirt extends deeper than in other parks. We promise we’re not making this up.

And there is no rule in the books dictating where the inner edge of the infield dirt should be located. So in virtually all parks, that inner edge of the dirt takes on a slightly different shape and location, based more on aesthetics than math. Seriously.

Oh, and one more thing. You know the dirt/grass line around the bases? That can be placed pretty much anywhere and sculpted however the grounds crew enjoys sculpting it. This really happens. And you would be amazed how many people who work in baseball are completely unaware of it.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2022 at 12:05 PM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: infield dirt

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2022 at 12:13 PM (#6096248)
Didn't really mean to post all The Athletic pieces, but they had a lot of good stuff today!
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2022 at 12:41 PM (#6096254)
The author is far more easily surprised by this than I was. We have different-sized parks, different-sized foul territories, different wall surfaces, different playing surfaces and Tiger Field and Sonoran Grounds already have that little soul patch of dirt between the mound and the plate, all of which affect play. Why would I think something as previously insignificant as the dimensions of the infield dirt be uniform?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2022 at 12:59 PM (#6096258)
Yeah, like SoSH I had no illusions these things were uniform.
   4. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: September 15, 2022 at 01:04 PM (#6096261)
TL; DR: MLB will start enforcing a rule about the size of the infield dirt that, up until now, has not been enforced. Next?
   5. Ron J Posted: September 15, 2022 at 01:16 PM (#6096264)
I've heard of stories of what amount to infield manipulation going back to the 60s (and I'm sure they go back further). Things like ground crews turning the area near second base into a swamp when they were playing the Dodgers (specifically to deal with Maury Wills. The Giants were specifically mentioned in these stories)
   6. SandyRiver Posted: September 15, 2022 at 01:29 PM (#6096267)
Long ago (early '60s) I read an article by Jimmy Piersall, "How the Home Team Cheats", which delved into these practices. It began with Jimmy claiming to have tripped and fallen after entering the playing field between 3rd and home in MN. He stood up and said, "Killebrew will be able to play third for 10 years!" thanks to the long grass. Not in that article, but there were tongue-in-cheek calls to award the 1960 WS MVP to the head groundskeeper in Pittsburgh after a bad hop led to a 5-run inning in G7, and all players knew that the Pirates' infield was baked and dried to promote high-bounce hits.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2022 at 01:34 PM (#6096271)
This is more about the shape and size of the infield (which will be an issue due to the new defense rules) than the composition of the infield dirt.
   8. Perry Posted: September 15, 2022 at 02:35 PM (#6096284)
Question for the group: I'm an infrequent commenter and even more infrequent poster of articles to the newsstand -- just a few per year. Several months ago I submitted an article and it never appeared. This had never happened before, but I didn't think too much about it, and just let it go. Then a couple of weeks ago I submitted another article, and again it never appeared on the Newsstand. Both times I got the normal "Thanks for your submission" message, no indication anything was wrong. On August 31 I emailed Jim and Dan asking what was up, but I haven't received a response from them yet (and I'm beginning to think I never will).

So: anyone have any idea what's up? Or how I can at least try to find out? Is the site completely on auto-pilot now, with nobody actually monitoring it? I can't imagine that I got banned for anything, I've never had any arguments or beefs with anyone here.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 15, 2022 at 02:47 PM (#6096290)
I think Jim is in charge of that and he is on here infrequently. He gave me some keys to submit stuff, but I can't authorize anyone else.
   10. Perry Posted: September 15, 2022 at 02:56 PM (#6096292)
#9 -- Thanks, I didn't realized "keys" were necessary, they never had been before, I've submitted quite a few over the years. That probably explains it, if only certain people are allowed to submit now rather than just anyone. Missed that memo.
   11. Cris E Posted: September 15, 2022 at 04:56 PM (#6096313)
I was honestly surprised to hear there was a standard. I fully expected infield dirt to be like fence heights and paths from the mound to the plate. But it's not surprising to hear that the rules aren't being enforced. If mound heights can vary there's no reason something that affects play so much less is going to get any attention.
   12. JRVJ Posted: September 15, 2022 at 05:27 PM (#6096320)
The distance from the home plate to the end of the infield dirt seems to have been one of those rules that were there because they were there, but didn't really have much meaning to them (I'm thinking here of the infamous "Pine Tar" rule that set off George Brett off in 1983 - it was a rule that was in the books for completely different reasons, and that nobody really cared much about, so it just stayed there).

I'm tempted to see if the Jays or Rays will try to go back to the no-dirt infields that they had at one time (to avoid the pedants: Rogers Centre and Tropicana only had dirt around the bases and home plate, and at some point they switched to regular infield dirt).
   13. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 15, 2022 at 05:30 PM (#6096321)
from TFI:
• Let’s start with the rule itself. It says the outer edge of the infield dirt is supposed to extend no more than 95 feet from the center of the pitcher’s mound. OK, good to know.

• So MLB now does plan to enforce that rule, beginning next season. That makes sense.

• But it does not plan to enforce the rule literally, according to sources. It will allow up to a foot of leeway in either direction, to account for what one source described as groundskeeping “error.” So it’s still possible the back edge of the dirt in various parks could extend anywhere from 94 to 96 feet from the center of the mound.

“Interesting,” one AL executive observed, when we updated him on that leeway. “If they’re allowing for error, why do I think that everyone is going to err on the larger side?”



ummm--"no more than 95 feet"??? well, technically, that means it could be 90 feet--what a strange way to write a rule

and, to disagree with several statements above, I had always assumed that infield dimensions WERE uniform across MLB
   14. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2022 at 03:19 AM (#6096391)
I'd never considered whether they were precisely the same. I recall thinking the old artificial turf ones were smaller than Wrigley. But yeah, you heard about long grass and flooded/dry basepaths.

A question on the new rule. One broadcast I saw added "not allowed to switch sides" (or similar) which I haven't seen on any other things that explain the new rule. I assume that means you can't flop your SS back and forth because he's your best infielder. I assume that's no switching during an inning (barring a player replacement) rather than for the entire game. Anyway, I can see why they'd do that but having only seen that in one place, I'm wondering if anybody knows if that's in the rule and what is allowed. I personally wouldn't mind the SS switching sides with every batter as long as they did it quickly.
   15. Bettymel Posted: September 16, 2022 at 03:33 AM (#6096392)
Hello, everyone! We know you like to be efficient and updated when it comes to your sense of style. At BIRKENSTOCK, we'd never let you be anything less than the most stylish person in the room. We've rounded up some of the best picks of the season, just for you!best Birkenstocks UK
   16. Greg Pope Posted: September 16, 2022 at 08:13 AM (#6096394)
#9 -- Thanks, I didn't realized "keys" were necessary, they never had been before, I've submitted quite a few over the years. That probably explains it, if only certain people are allowed to submit now rather than just anyone. Missed that memo.

The "keys" are not for submitting, they're for approving. Anyone can submit an article, but the article has to be approved and there are a limited number of people who can approve them.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: September 16, 2022 at 09:46 AM (#6096400)
Anyone can submit an article, but the article has to be approved and there are a limited number of people who can approve them.


And an even smaller number paying any attention to the site.
   18. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 16, 2022 at 09:57 AM (#6096403)
And an even smaller number paying any attention to the site.

That's not entirely fair. We have a whole crop of new overseas spambots who have been allowed to pay far too much attention to this site for far too long, totally oblivious to the fact that they're never going to make a single sale, much less even a clickthrough, from the user base here.
   19. Greg Pope Posted: September 16, 2022 at 02:03 PM (#6096458)
And an even smaller number paying any attention to the site.

Yeah, I have no idea who has the keys. I assume, for example, that Repoz does but hasn't been on here in half a dozen years.
   20. Ron J Posted: September 16, 2022 at 02:51 PM (#6096466)
I think I still do, but if so I don't remember how to use them. And since I haven't used them in around a decade, they could have been removed.
   21. BDC Posted: September 16, 2022 at 03:00 PM (#6096467)
that they're never going to make a single sale, much less even a clickthrough, from the user base here

I dunno, my new Birkenstocks are mighty comfy.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2022 at 03:50 PM (#6096481)
But are they stylish?
   23. Smitty* Posted: September 16, 2022 at 05:40 PM (#6096518)
I think we all know I am always the most stylish person in the room

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogShohei Ohtani to make $30 million in 2023, record amount for arbitration-eligible player
(2 - 4:05am, Oct 03)
Last: John Reynard

NewsblogThere's a new longest last name in MLB history
(8 - 3:23am, Oct 03)
Last: vortex of dissipation

Newsblog2022-23 Preseason NBA thread
(343 - 11:03pm, Oct 02)
Last: rr would lock Shaq's a$$ up

NewsblogOT: Wrestling Thread November 2014
(2538 - 10:47pm, Oct 02)
Last: 57i66135 is a hard word for me.

NewsblogOMNICHATTER for the week of September 26 - October 5, 2022
(198 - 10:21pm, Oct 02)
Last: cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE

NewsblogRoger Maris Jr. blasts MLB, says Aaron Judge’s potential 62nd home run should be single-season record
(96 - 7:34pm, Oct 02)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogTony La Russa expected to announce retirement Monday as White Sox manager
(1 - 3:55pm, Oct 02)
Last: The Duke

NewsblogOT Soccer Thread - European Leages Return
(288 - 3:29pm, Oct 02)
Last: Infinite Yost (Voxter)

NewsblogTo dream the impossible dream - and then decide it's time to let it go
(41 - 3:14pm, Oct 02)
Last: sunday silence (again)

NewsblogOT - October 2022 College Football thread
(48 - 1:49pm, Oct 02)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogThree impacts of baseball's new 12-team postseason format
(6 - 1:11pm, Oct 02)
Last: bookbook

Sox TherapyPredictions of Ridiculousness
(143 - 12:59pm, Oct 02)
Last: Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful

NewsblogWhy Major League Baseball needs to do a better job of appreciating regular season greatness
(63 - 11:13am, Oct 02)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogMets to call up No. 1 prospect in baseball
(21 - 10:14am, Oct 02)
Last: KronicFatigue

NewsblogOrioles intend to sign new lease committing team to remaining in Baltimore, document says
(6 - 7:58am, Oct 02)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

Page rendered in 0.2993 seconds
48 querie(s) executed