Does Baseball Rule 5.05(a)(8) Need to be Changed?

joe dokes

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The automatic double sometimes grants to runners bases that they would not otherwise obtain. In other cases, like in the 2004 ALCS and again last night, it's a gift for the defense. But these things even out over time; no one team is advantaged for disadvantaged, so I disagree that the current rule is "unfair". And it's not at all obvious a fielder could realistically ever take deliberate advantage of the rule to limit the advance of the runners. Having to stop the game each time there is a ball leaving the field of play will make the game take even longer.
The bolded: runner on 1st....hot smash 3-hopper down the 1st base line. The Sox 1Bman attempts to field it, but the ball deflects off his glove (Dalbec) or head (Schwarber) into the stands. The runner probably would have made 3rd, but if the grounder hits the short jutting-out wall, the batter wont get second...but now he does. Or, more realistically, many bloops and hard hit balls down the lines at Fenway that go over the short wall where the ball attendant sits end up with suspect baserunner placements. Especially down the 3rd base line/into LF, where getting to 3rd base is no gimme.
 

singaporesoxfan

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The automatic double sometimes grants to runners bases that they would not otherwise obtain. In other cases, like in the 2004 ALCS and again last night, it's a gift for the defense. But these things even out over time; no one team is advantaged for disadvantaged, so I disagree that the current rule is "unfair". And it's not at all obvious a fielder could realistically ever take deliberate advantage of the rule to limit the advance of the runners. Having to stop the game each time there is a ball leaving the field of play will make the game take even longer.
Agree - the current rules are pretty straightforward - ball goes into the stands on a fly ball (even when that is because a fly ball bounced off a fielder's head) = homer, ball goes into stands other ways (including bouncing off a player) = automatic double.

Making it any more complicated or giving umps discretion is just going to make things worse.
 

BaseballJones

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And we've seen this happen twice in three seasons. I don't know how many total games have been played over that amount of time, and how many baseball plays have occurred, but this is like an extraordinarily unlikely event in baseball. So you don't need to change the rules for those kinds of things.
 

Sin Duda

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Keep the rule! And as for the "inducing a ground rule double could be abused" argument ...

* If a fielder is clever and agile enough to purposefully knock a ball into the stands ,
* with the intention of causing a ground rule double (with a 2 base awarded from starting position)
* and NOT make it so obvious that it is ruled as if it was a throw (with 2 bases awarded from position at moment ball enters stands)
Then why should we get upset? It would be quite an amusing feat, especially given the risk that you don't get away with it.

Generally speaking: subtle trickery in baseball is not such a bad thing. Should we ban catchers whose amazing framing abilities lets them steal a few strikes?

Let 'em play!
In a Pony League game in Meriden CT in 1976, the 15 year old right fielder, with the bases loaded and the opponent's best hitter having just slammed a ball down the right field line at Washington Park, chased after that ball as it rolled toward deep right-center and the out-of-play road perhaps 350 feet from home plate. Being up three runs, he knew a grand slam would tilt the score in the opponent's favor, but a ground-rule double (ball into the street) would only score two. As he stooped to pick up the slowly rolling ball, he realized it would stop a few precious inches from the desired destination, so, taking his glove, he nudged it another 3 feet. With the umpire, players, and even fans so far away, no one noticed. As it entered the edge of the road, he grabbed it barehanded and held it aloft. Success! Runners returned to 2nd and 3rd base and the game ended one batter later, Victory! (That former right fielder is not so proud of that play so much as he's amazed no one called him on it.)
 

dhellers

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In a Pony League game in Meriden CT in 1976, the 15 year old right fielder, with the bases loaded and the opponent's best hitter having just slammed a ball down the right field line at Washington Park, chased after that ball as it rolled toward deep right-center and the out-of-play road perhaps 350 feet from home plate. Being up three runs, he knew a grand slam would tilt the score in the opponent's favor, but a ground-rule double (ball into the street) would only score two. As he stooped to pick up the slowly rolling ball, he realized it would stop a few precious inches from the desired destination, so, taking his glove, he nudged it another 3 feet. With the umpire, players, and even fans so far away, no one noticed. As it entered the edge of the road, he grabbed it barehanded and held it aloft. Success! Runners returned to 2nd and 3rd base and the game ended one batter later, Victory! (That former right fielder is not so proud of that play so much as he's amazed no one called him on it.)
Unlike football's indulgence in faux high dudgeon when breakingOfTheRules is deemed useful to cripple an opponent ("DeflateGate oh my!"), the gods of baseball tend to be amused by sneaky tricks. The punishment when caught should fit the crime, but if no one is hurt that's all that is needed.

I forget the details, but I believe in the 80s someone on the Mets noticed a Houston pitcher seemed to be appying a fingernail file to the baseball. They held onto that info until early in a playoff game, and brought it to the attention of the ump. Pitcher gets tossed! Justice is served! All are amused (except crestfallen Houston fans).

IOW: vaya con dios.

Edit: the MFYs and LADs should be properly embarrased that they let Houston fool them, while a lowly expansion team (the Nats) figured it out.
 
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joe dokes

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I forget the details, but I believe in the 80s someone on the Mets noticed a Houston pitcher seemed to be appying a fingernail file to the baseball. They held onto that info until early in a playoff game, and brought it to the attention of the ump. Pitcher gets tossed! Justice is served! All are amused (except crestfallen Houston fans).


Edit: the MFYs and LADs should be properly embarrased that they let Houston fool them, while a lowly expansion team (the Nats) figured it out.
I was at the Dodger-Met playoff game in 88 or 90 when NL president Giamatti threw out Jay Howell after umps brought him Howells glove.
 
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moondog80

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I'm against any rule in any sport that would result in *more* time spent in instant replay. I can accept the imperfection of the rule as it is, leave it alone.
 

AB in DC

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The Puig play above really clinches it for me. I don't see any other reasonable ruling other than an automatic double there. And I don't see a good way to distinguish that from other weird bounces (Renfroe the other day, or the Tampa play from 2019).
 

jayhoz

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How 'bout we come up with a compromise? We give Umps the discretion to place runners on a ball batted out of play if we agree to never play another baseball game in that pinball machine of a stadium The Trop?
 

cantor44

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If a ball hits you and bounces out of the field, it's a misplay. You could have fielded it and you didn't. Why is any rule ever adjusted? To make it more fair. Rewarding a fielder who bungles a play is generally against the spirit of the rules. Why is there an infield fly rule? So you can't misplay a ball (intentionally or unintentionally) and gain an advantage from it. The automatic double rule has its own problems, but none of them stem from a fielder being rewarded for a bad play.
Though it's not exactly a misplay, it's more like a random occurrence. A misplay is more a player moved the ball with intention and their execution was errant. Similarly a ball that hits an umpire is more of a random moment. I mean, maybe I see how what happened with Renfroe is in a space somewhere between, which maybe puts this play in a gray area. I suppose Renfroe would have liked to have fielded the ball, but it's not like he threw it away. The ball moved/ricocheted in a way he couldn't predict and it bounced off his hip and over the wall ... he wasn't trying to have the ball bounce off his hip, nor did any of his intended actions cause the outcome of the ball going over the wall. Whereas, if Raffy throws it over the first baseman's head, it was the poor execution of his intended action that caused it.
 

cantor44

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Going on a bit of tangent, baseball's rules about running the bases are more complex than we realize. For example, you can take your lead off a base anywhere on the field that you want, as long as you make a straight line from that point to a base if fielders are attempting to get you out. This has sometimes lead to the "skunk in the outfield" trick play, as delightfully written about here a bit back on ESPN:

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/20294816/skunk-outfield-how-most-epic-trick-play-history-broke-baseball
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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One play that I always think might work is to have a runner who is about to be forced at second on a close play run through the bag into the outfield. You might beat the throw if you don’t slide and other runners can advance and score until you are tagged.

I guess you never see it because if it is going to be that close getting tagged is no good if you were going to be safe. But runner at third and first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game and a slow ball to the shortstop, there is no downside to running as hard as you can through second base.
 

The Raccoon

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One play that I always think might work is to have a runner who is about to be forced at second on a close play run through the bag into the outfield. You might beat the throw if you don’t slide and other runners can advance and score until you are tagged.

I guess you never see it because if it is going to be that close getting tagged is no good if you were going to be safe. But runner at third and first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game and a slow ball to the shortstop, there is no downside to running as hard as you can through second base.
Ok, let's say the play happened, but there was a runner at first and second (not 3rd). Defense tried to get the runner coming from 1st on a force play at 2nd, but he beat the throw, wasn't tagged and is now standing somewhere in left/centerfield, because he ran through the base.
Both the batter and the runner from 2nd are safe at 1st/3rd. The ball is in the hands of the 2nd baseman standing on 2nd base waiting for the runner to return to his base to be tagged out.
What needs to happen now?
The runner doesn't have to return to 2nd base, so he can stay put until the defense makes an effort to tag him. But the defense doesn't want to carry/throw the ball into the outfield with the runner on 3rd threatening to break towards home.
What now?
 

lexrageorge

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Ok, let's say the play happened, but there was a runner at first and second (not 3rd). Defense tried to get the runner coming from 1st on a force play at 2nd, but he beat the throw, wasn't tagged and is now standing somewhere in left/centerfield, because he ran through the base.
Both the batter and the runner from 2nd are safe at 1st/3rd. The ball is in the hands of the 2nd baseman standing on 2nd base waiting for the runner to return to his base to be tagged out.
What needs to happen now?
The runner doesn't have to return to 2nd base, so he can stay put until the defense makes an effort to tag him. But the defense doesn't want to carry/throw the ball into the outfield with the runner on 3rd threatening to break towards home.
What now?
If the runner goes too far out of the base paths, to the point he is standing in the outfield grass, he will most likely be called out, as he is allowed only 3 feet from the path between 2nd and 3rd base. If he is within that range, then the shortstop or center field can come over and help with the play.

If everyone keeps standing around in a shooter's standoff, the umpire can call time, and make a judgment call if the batter should be called out, or just allowed to go back to second. I believe the latter would apply in most cases as the onus would be on the defense to attempt to make a play, unless it was deemed that the runner was attempting to make travesty of the game by deliberately confusing the defense (e.g., running around in circles).
 

dirtynine

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If it's off the player, even unintentional, I'm ok with a) batter is awarded a double, and b) runners advance two bases plus more at the umpires' discretion. I think it's fair to say that even if a player doesn't mean to put the ball out of play, such an event most likely happens because of imperfect fielding (aka, a better defender could have been in position to make the play), so there is some defensive culpability. The defense should never be rewarded by the play in any way. If it's obviously intentional, keep the rule as is (and if it was done cynically, consider ejection for the player).
 

jayhoz

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If the runner goes too far out of the base paths, to the point he is standing in the outfield grass, he will most likely be called out, as he is allowed only 3 feet from the path between 2nd and 3rd base. If he is within that range, then the shortstop or center field can come over and help with the play.
The base path (three feet to either side) is not established until the defense attempts to tag the runner. The runner could technically run into left field and stand there until someone tried to tag him. At that point a 6 foot path back to 2nd or to 3rd would be established.

If it is to egregious the ump could use the travesty of the game clause as you mentioned.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Ok, let's say the play happened, but there was a runner at first and second (not 3rd). Defense tried to get the runner coming from 1st on a force play at 2nd, but he beat the throw, wasn't tagged and is now standing somewhere in left/centerfield, because he ran through the base.
Both the batter and the runner from 2nd are safe at 1st/3rd. The ball is in the hands of the 2nd baseman standing on 2nd base waiting for the runner to return to his base to be tagged out.
What needs to happen now?
The runner doesn't have to return to 2nd base, so he can stay put until the defense makes an effort to tag him. But the defense doesn't want to carry/throw the ball into the outfield with the runner on 3rd threatening to break towards home.
What now?
The play I am thinking of is with two outs. First and third runners moving on contact and the fielder tries to go the short way to get the runner at second base. He usually has time because the runner always slides. Here, I am suggesting running through the base to beat the throw. Worst that happens is you are out anyway. Best that happens is not slowing down and running through the base makes you safe. You get tagged out eventually but it is now a time play and the run scores.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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The base path (three feet to either side) is not established until the defense attempts to tag the runner. The runner could technically run into left field and stand there until someone tried to tag him. At that point a 6 foot path back to 2nd or to 3rd would be established.

If it is to egregious the ump could use the travesty of the game clause as you mentioned.
Yeah, announcers don’t understand that there is no set basepath between the bases. The runner creates his own basepath and can start it in centerfield or the pitcher’s mound. Plus, as you note, the concept of a basepath is irrelevant until a fielder with the ball starts to attempt a tag.
 

SumnerH

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The base path (three feet to either side) is not established until the defense attempts to tag the runner. The runner could technically run into left field and stand there until someone tried to tag him. At that point a 6 foot path back to 2nd or to 3rd would be established.

If it is to egregious the ump could use the travesty of the game clause as you mentioned.
Yep. The classic Skunk in the Outfield play has the runner on 1st base taking their “lead” almost directly away from home plate, so they're standing in the outfield grass. Once the defense starts making a play, then they have to run directly to 2nd (or back to 1st), remaining within 3' of that line.

https://austinumpires.org/skunkplay.html discusses it from an umpiring point of view:
The unique thing about this play is where the runner at first base (R1 )takes his lead. In this play, R1 will take his lead in the outfield, generally when there is a runner on third base...The "base path rule" is not enforceable until a runner is attempting to avoid a tag or play by the defender. If a runner leaves the base path to avoid a tag or play by a defender, he is out. Many people misinterpret this rule. This rule in no way restricts where a runner may take his lead. He can legally take his lead anywhere he wishes. The runner's base path to first base or second base is determined by where he is when the defense begins to make a play on him.
And continues:
It is a legal play and not considered a “travesty of the game”. While some of us may personally disagree with that assessment, we are bound by the rules of the game.
 

The Raccoon

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The play I am thinking of is with two outs. First and third runners moving on contact and the fielder tries to go the short way to get the runner at second base. He usually has time because the runner always slides. Here, I am suggesting running through the base to beat the throw. Worst that happens is you are out anyway. Best that happens is not slowing down and running through the base makes you safe. You get tagged out eventually but it is now a time play and the run scores.
Yeah, I got that. Would be adventageous in this case, no doubt.
I'm just questioning how "you get tagged out eventually" if you just stay in the outfield and the D can't just go over and tag you out because there's also a runner on third, who would break home once the ball leaves the infield.
 

rajendra82

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This rule is generally consistent with most other baseball rules, which say deflection off a player’s body part does not change the status of the ball. When the ball in flight hit Cansco’s head, and bounced up, it was still considered in flight. If Jose or another outfielder had caught it before it hit the ground, it would have been an out. Instead it went over the fence, so it was a homer. The Renfroe defection was off the front of the wall and the ground, so it was a still bouncing ball. This is an automatic double which has been the rule for many years. It was a homer in the early days of baseball, but why go backwards?
 

chrisfont9

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The more I think about it, the more I prefer the rule as is. The umps should legislate the rules, not make fuzzy judgment calls to correct for the odd bounces and strange circumstance that are part of baseball.

The rules apply to both teams. Keep baseball weird.
Exactly! This is all about a rule for a sport where the parks are all completely different. You need a clear, simple rule or all hell will constantly break loose. We have one, and the only reason people are complaining about it is because it happened to benefit the Red Sox and people outside of Boston are tired of the Sox winning.
 

The Raccoon

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The "skunk in the OF" play (thanks for the link to the detailed explanation @SumnerH ) has two resolutions for the defense. Either make a play by getting the ball close to the skunk into the OF (and giving the runner at 3rd a chance to score) or ignore the skunk and just continue with the next pitch, since the whole thing is in the end nothing but a weird steal / primary lead by the runner on first.

But I still can't see a good way to resolve my scenario in #64 because the play there is still live but neither party has an incentive to do anything. And if the ump just called the ball dead, the runner could safely return to 2nd as if nothing happened?

Note: If this is getting to much off topic, please move it somewhere or tell me to stop...
 

SumnerH

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The "skunk in the OF" play (thanks for the link to the detailed explanation @SumnerH ) has two resolutions for the defense. Either make a play by getting the ball close to the skunk into the OF (and giving the runner at 3rd a chance to score) or ignore the skunk and just continue with the next pitch, since the whole thing is in the end nothing but a weird steal / primary lead by the runner on first.
One strategy guide suggests having a mound visit with the P and 2B, both watching the runner on 3rd (so they can throw home if he goes), and then split and have the 2B walk out toward the skunk while the P walks toward the runner on third. The runners don't know who has the ball and you force their hand.

In practice, it's probably best to ignore it.
 

The Raccoon

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One strategy guide suggests having a mound visit with the P and 2B, both watching the runner on 3rd (so they can throw home if he goes), and then split and have the 2B walk out toward the skunk while the P walks toward the runner on third. The runners don't know who has the ball and you force their hand.

In practice, it's probably best to ignore it.
That's clever - love that idea and it obviously also works in my scenario.
 

BaseballJones

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Yep. The classic Skunk in the Outfield play has the runner on 1st base taking their “lead” almost directly away from home plate, so they're standing in the outfield grass. Once the defense starts making a play, then they have to run directly to 2nd (or back to 1st), remaining within 3' of that line.

https://austinumpires.org/skunkplay.html discusses it from an umpiring point of view:


And continues:
"The unique thing about this play is where the runner at first base (R1 )takes his lead. In this play, R1 will take his lead in the outfield, generally when there is a runner on third base...The "base path rule" is not enforceable until a runner is attempting to avoid a tag or play by the defender. If a runner leaves the base path to avoid a tag or play by a defender, he is out. Many people misinterpret this rule. This rule in no way restricts where a runner may take his lead. He can legally take his lead anywhere he wishes. The runner's base path to first base or second base is determined by where he is when the defense begins to make a play on him."

If a runner on second chooses to take his "lead" *towards first base*, and the batter hits a ground ball to the outfield, does the runner need to re-tag second base, or can he run in a direct line from where he has taken his lead (which in this case would cut through the infield grass)?
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Yeah, I got that. Would be adventageous in this case, no doubt.
I'm just questioning how "you get tagged out eventually" if you just stay in the outfield and the D can't just go over and tag you out because there's also a runner on third, who would break home once the ball leaves the infield.
Ahh, gotcha. In my play the runner on third scored because he was running on the contact and so you have runner on first, runner in center field, and run scored with two outs. In that case you just walk the ball toward the guy in the out field and get him out by tagging him or attempting a tag and having him go out of his basepath. The runner on first can’t advance past second because he would pass the runner who has only attained second base. So it’s different from the skunk play since the runner on third came home. My play is just trying to avoid a force to create a time play.

It would be a skunk play perhaps with bases loaded, grounder to short, and the short stop tries to go the short way and the runner runs through the base.
 

The Raccoon

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If a runner on second chooses to take his "lead" *towards first base*, and the batter hits a ground ball to the outfield, does the runner need to re-tag second base, or can he run in a direct line from where he has taken his lead (which in this case would cut through the infield grass)?
I mean, why not.
If Javy Baez can run back from 1st towards home to avoid a tag, I don't think taking a lead into a unusual direction (towards 1st base) is any more a travesty of the game. I don't see any adventage in doing it, but I would imagine you may be able to run through the infield to 3rd without re-tagging.
 

BaseballJones

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I mean, why not.
If Javy Baez can run back from 1st towards home to avoid a tag, I don't think taking a lead into a unusual direction (towards 1st base) is any more a travesty of the game. I don't see any adventage in doing it, but I would imagine you may be able to run through the infield to 3rd without re-tagging.
That would be totally crazy, and I have no idea why anyone would do it. But I was struck by the phrasing: "He can legally take his lead anywhere he wishes."
 

dhellers

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Not quite the same,but didn't Dom DiMaggio take a backward lead on sacrifice flys, so he would have a running start. Obviously requires precise timing to be beneficial (you have to touch the bag on the run an instant after the ball is caught,)
 

azsoxpatsfan

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Lets say there’s a runner in short right field and the defense starts to attempt to get him out. Now he’s established his basepath. Suppose he starts to run back to first, but the defense throws to first. Can he just turn and run straight towards second? Or is that not within the basepath he established? I assume he establishes a new basepath between himself and second when he runs back to first
 

lexrageorge

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Lets say there’s a runner in short right field and the defense starts to attempt to get him out. Now he’s established his basepath. Suppose he starts to run back to first, but the defense throws to first. Can he just turn and run straight towards second? Or is that not within the basepath he established? I assume he establishes a new basepath between himself and second when he runs back to first
The batter is making a legitimate attempt to advance a base, which I believe is allowed. Not much different than a batter in a rundown going back and forth, except for the starting point. What would not be allowed is that if he did get caught in a rundown (seems likely in this case), he would not be allowed to back to his original position in shallow right. He would need to go between 1st and 2nd.
 

cantor44

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One play that I always think might work is to have a runner who is about to be forced at second on a close play run through the bag into the outfield. You might beat the throw if you don’t slide and other runners can advance and score until you are tagged.

I guess you never see it because if it is going to be that close getting tagged is no good if you were going to be safe. But runner at third and first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game and a slow ball to the shortstop, there is no downside to running as hard as you can through second base.
This is actually a good point. In certain situations just running through the bag would be optimal ....what an interesting thought!
 

LoweTek

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Speaking of rules that need changing, how about defining what is and isn't a swing?
I think check swing calls should be reviewable. Last night was the closing argument. An NLDS should not end on a missed check swing call. The call last night was completely blown and the outcome possibly altered as a result. Baseball should be to a place where such a thing cannot happen.

I'd also like to thank you guys for (the most part) correctly applying the terms Automatic Double and Ground Rule Double in this discussion. It is so refreshing.

When you get old, it's the little things...