As you know, I’m a baseball fan. A pretty big one, really. Part of following a sport for me involves understanding what I’m seeing on the field of play. I’m not one of those guys who is going to pontificate about strategy to people sitting near me, but I also don’t mind talking about it with the folks I attend the game with, assuming they initiate the conversation; the reasoning, of course, is that I could go on all day if I wanted to, but no one else wants that.
Part and parcel with having ideas on strategy is knowing the rules of the game. When I saw my first lacrosse games in college, it was a strange experience for me since I had always been one to try to learn the rules of every sport I watched or played. I even enlisted the help of a friend who had played in high school to explain the game to me as we watched. Bless her heart for trying, but I was completely lost.
Anyway, baseball’s got a ton of rules. Jayson Stark of ESPN gave a number of players, coaches, and media members a 10-question rules quiz. Admittedly, the situations involve a number of rules that rarely appear in a game, but they are still on the books.
As per Stark’s column, here were the average scores:
Players: 5.5 (20 players took the quiz)
Coaches: 6.6 (four coaches and one manager)
Media: 4.4 (seven writers/commentators)
I took the quiz and scored nine out of 10. That means I did better than all but three of the respondents (only Brad Ziegler of the Diamondbacks had a perfect score).
You’d think this would be surprising, but it really isn’t. I’m a baseball dork, which means when I was a kid I read all those “You Make the Call!”-type books. I also have incredible recall for fairly unimportant things, so of course I remember these rules but forget when I’m supposed to be in a meeting. So it makes sense that I would do well. It would also make sense, at least to me, that coaches would do better than players; players just go out and make plays and let the umpires sort out what happened.
But the media members doing the worst strikes me as incredibly odd. I mean, chances are, if you’re a part of the baseball media, you were probably like me: a rabid, everything-baseball-devouring kid. And as you work your way up through the ranks covering the game, you’d think you might see some of these situations happen, or at the very least do enough reading on the game that you’d know some of the rules.
Alas, the respondents to the quiz gave the bloggers and internet commenters some ammunition for that age-old, “aw, you don’t know what you’re talkin’ about!” argument. But the truth is that the only ones who really need to know the rules, the ones who need to get 10 out of 10 on this quiz, are the umpires.
And judging by how this season has gone, we know that wouldn’t happen.