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Reviewing the Ground Rules

Haven't seen too many Rays games in Tampa this year? That's okay, neither have their fans.

As this year's best story in baseball continued to unfold, the folks in central Florida were slow to come around. When the Red Sox visited the Rays for a key AL East matchup in mid-September, attendance for the first game of the series was 29,772, about 6,000 under capacity. Rumor has it these ALCS games are sold out, but my question is what took so long?

Perhaps its the facility in which Tampa Bay plays, the argument being why would someone pay good money to watch baseball at crummy Tropicana Field. Well, because it's good baseball.

That said, be prepared for something completely out of the ordinary to happen, with catwalks and foul poles hanging from the ceiling. Want an example? Back in 2002 the Red Sox' Shea Hillenbrand, with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, hit a fly ball that struck one of those catwalks. The ball fell to the field, but it was ruled a grand slam and the Red Sox won, 7-5.

Could you imagine if the ALCS were decided on a play like that? If so, at least more people than usual would be able to say they were there to see it.

For a complete list of Tropicana Field ground rules -- as presented on the Rays' Web site -- read below.

*A batted ball that hits the catwalk, lights or suspended objects in foul territory will automatically be ruled a dead ball and it shall be called a strike.
*A batted ball that hits a catwalk, lights or suspended objects in fair territory shall be judged fair of foul in relation to the striking point on the ground or where it is touched by the fielder. If the ball hits the catwalk, lights or suspended objects in fair territory and lands in the field in fair territory or is touched by a fielder in fair territory, it shall be judged a fair ball. If the ball strikes the catwalk, lights or suspended objects in fair territory and is caught by a fielder in fair or foul territory, then the batter is out and the base runners run at their own risk.
*A batted ball that hits the catwalk, lights or suspended objects and remains on or in the catwalk, lights or suspended objects in foul territory is a foul ball and it shall be called a strike.
*A batted ball that hits the catwalk, lights or suspended objects and remains on or in the catwalk, lights or suspended objects in fair territory is a fair ball and it shall be called a double.
*A batted ball that hits either of the lower two catwalks, lights or suspended objects in fair territory is a home run.
*Any pitched ball that lodges in the padding behind home plate - one base.
Any thrown ball that lodges in the padding behind home plate - two bases.

By Tom Heleba  |  October 10, 2008; 11:34 AM ET
 
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Comments

You left out a part:

"If a car is coming through the field of play from either direction during a play, the umpire shall call 'CAR!'; the ball is dead, and baserunners may not advance beyond the next base they would have reached had play continued. Play resumes when the traffic has cleared the field, unless it's dinnertime and whoever owns the ball has to go home."

Posted by: Sec. 3, my couch | October 10, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

and *we* didn't get a new field, either.

Posted by: ce | October 10, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Sec. 3 writes:

"If a car is coming through the field of play from either direction during a play, the umpire shall call 'CAR!'; the ball is dead, and baserunners may not advance beyond the next base they would have reached had play continued. Play resumes when the traffic has cleared the field, unless it's dinnertime and whoever owns the ball has to go home."

I was robbed of a home run by this ground rule once... but it wasn't at Tropicana Field.

And I was nine years old.

Posted by: Wigi | October 10, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Technically, that area is referred to as "west-central" Florida :-) Central Florida is Orlando.

Those catwalks are horrible. Not a bad place for arena football, though!

Posted by: misschatter | October 10, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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