Behind the Mic: Rules

I wrote my blog last week before the USGA embarrassed themselves by not immediately enforcing a rule that penalizes a player if he causes his ball to move.  The USGA hinted that they were going to penalize eventual winner Dustin Johnson, but only after the round ended and Johnson had a chance to explain himself.  Thus, no one knew for sure whether Johnson would lose a stroke or not. At the time, Johnson only led by one stroke.  He was penalized after the round, but the penalty did not cost him the Open championship.

Worse than that, he probably had very little to do, if anything, with the ball moving.  And even worse than that, golf is a game where the integrity of the players is essential.  In fact, the day prior to Sunday’s round, Shane Lowry, who ironically was one stroke behind Johnson when he heard about the potential one stroke penalty on Sunday, called a penalty on himself.  Dustin Johnson flat-out said he did not cause the ball to move.  Shouldn’t the player’s word be enough?  And there was no gained advantage to the ball moving ever so slightly so why the rule in the first place?

This led me to investigate (okay, Google) some other downright strange rules in the world of sports.  Here are just ten:

  1. If a baseball player attempts to catch a ball with his hat or a catcher with his mask, the hitter is granted a ground rule triple.
  2. Soccer goalies must wear long-sleeves and cannot roll them up at any time during the match. Referees need to know it’s the goalie who touches the ball with his hands.
  3. In water polo, grabbing, kicking, or hitting the groin is prohibited (so is splashing water in an opponent’s face).
  4. In the NFL, if the third string quarterback enters the game, the first and second string quarterbacks may not play in that game again.
  5. In major league baseball, if a player is announced on the PA system, he must enter the game or be declared ineligible for the rest of the game.
  6. In the NFL, if a punt returner calls for a fair catch, his team can opt to go for an uncontested field goal.
  7. In MLB, if a ball becomes lodged in an umpire’s mask, all runners will advance a base.
  8. A professional hockey goalie cannot cross the red line that marks the center ice.
  9. If a batter in baseball, bats out of order, he is out immediately and the teammate he batted for is charged with the time at bat. The batter who made the error must then bat again in his proper spot.
  10. If a MLB pitcher licks his hand, wipes his brow, or touches his waistline he must first wipe his hand on his shirt before touching the baseball.

There are plenty of others in every sport. Now the USGA says they are going to try to simplify the Rules of Golf and make them more understandable to the average player and viewer.  All other sports’ bodies should take heed and do the same.


  1. If you are a Phillies fan, you may be wondering how Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Cole Hamels are doing this year. Jimmy Rollins signed with the White Sox after a bad year statistically with the Dodgers.  He was assigned to the minor leagues and was hitting .221 before they chose to reassign him again.  Chase Utley is still a Dodger and is having a pretty good year – .261 average, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, and 25 RBI’s.  Cole Hamels is 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA.  He, also, has stayed healthy and is taking his rotation spot on a regular basis.
  2. It is obvious that Ryan Howard will not be a Phillie next season. The penalty – he will get $10 million NOT to play with them next season.  I wonder how much I could get NOT to announce (place your wise comment here).
  3. Remember the name Charlie Woods – the 7-year-old son of Tiger recently tied for second place in 9-hole junior event. He shot a 55, 19 over par.  The winner shot a 50.  There’s already a nickname – the Little Cat.
  4. With the selection of Ben Simmons as their #1 draft choice, the 76’ers may (dare I say it) compete next season. If Joel Embiid can play (and he hasn’t since March 1, 2014), the combination could be a real force in the league.  And the 76’ers still have Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor on the roster.  Someone will have to go.  Bottom line – the team might start winning – Oh, my!!
  5. A Jamaican sprinter on the 4X 100m relay team announced this week that he has the Zika Virus.  A sign of things to come?


Behind the Mic: Why not baseball?

This past Saturday night, second-base umpire Mike Estabrook called pinch runner Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies out at second base on a pick-off play in the ninth inning. Replay showed that the Milwaukee Brewer shortstop tagged Kendrick without the ball. No one saw the ball come free and roll into the bare hand of the shortstop. The Phils were down 4-3 at the time and the next Phillies batter doubled, but was left stranded. Right call = tie game; wrong call = lost game.

Baseball only uses replay for home run calls and, within the last two weeks, the umpires even got a home run call wrong. In the American league championship series last year, a Detroit player was called safe at second and TV replay showed the runner was out and the inning would have ended. Detroit scored two runs in the inning and won 3-0. There is a remedy to these bad calls. The NFL, NBA, NHL, major tennis tournaments, and some NCAA sports all use a form of instant replay. Why not baseball?

A subcommittee made up of Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, and Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholtz will make recommendations for 2014. At first, consideration was to use replay only for a trap play and fair/foul. Now, all plays are being considered.

Baseball Instant Replay Concerns

  1. Do you allow a challenge system by the managers, much like NFL football?
  2. Do you use a replay official in the booth?
  3. Do you use replay for all situations?
  4. How much will replay disrupt the game?
  5. Will it add even more time to a game which most people think takes too long now?

All these questions will be answered soon. Eliminate the arguments, take some of the pressure off the umpires, and get the call right. After all, isn’t that the most important element?


  1. Speaking of baseball, as of May 15, there were 21 weather-related postponements, the same total as all of last year.
  2. Did you know that no other state has hosted more USGA championships than Pennsylvania? The number is 80 entering 2013. Merion golf Club, the venue for the US Open in 2 weeks and Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh are the top two. They are the only two to host more USGA events than our own Saucon Valley Country Club which has hosted six. Saucon Valley will host their seventh in 2014 when 264 players converge at the club’s Old Course and the Weyhill course from September 5-11 for the Mid-Amateur Championship. 4,000 golfers attempt to qualify for this event. These are “true amateurs” who are over 25, with handicaps at 3.4 or less and have real jobs like the rest of us. The winner has an exemption for the Masters.
  3. The NHL hockey playoffs are experiencing some good ratings for NBC and, particularly, for the NBC Sports Network. The May 29 Western Conference Semifinal Game 7 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings posted a 2.07 rating and averaged 3.354 million viewers, making it the highest-rated NHL game ever on NBC Sports Network, and the most-watched Semifinal game ever on cable.
  4. Congratulations to Parkland, Tamaqua, Salisbury, and Tri-Valley for winning District XI baseball championships this past week. On to states for them and for us. We have the PIAA state championships LIVE on PCN, Friday, June 14, beginning at 10:30 AM.
  5. I am hosting Sportstalk this Thursday (June 6) and the panel will be discussing the best 5 high school football players at various positions. Dick Tracy, Dennis Laub, Jack Logic and Joe Craig will offer their lists. I am putting my list together. There have been some great ones over the years Join us with your opinions. I am sure there will be many.