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Another Knotty Problem of Baseball
2007-07-07 22:11
by Bob Timmermann

Again this is adapted from the 1970 version of the Sporting News Knotty Problems of Baseball. The names used are solely to victimize the innocent.

It's the top of the first inning in Pittsburgh and the Marlins have loaded the bases with Hanley Ramirez on third, Dan Uggla on second, and Miguel Cabrera on first. Josh Willingham is at bat against Tom Gorzelanny. However, on the batting order turned in it at the beginning of the game, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez wrote in the name of Joe Borchard in the cleanup spot. Willingham should be batting fifth.

Ramirez notices Gorzelanny winding up and breaks for home. He easily beats the pitch home as Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino stands dumbfounded. Gorzelanny is rattled and he balks and Uggla and Cabrera move up to second and third.

Gorzelanny is still flummoxed and he throws a wild pitch and Uggla chugs home. Paulino tries to throw to Gorzelanny at the plate, but the throw deflects off of Gorzelanny's gloves and rolls away toward the dugout. By the time the ball is chased down, Cabrera scores.

By this time, Gorzelanny wants to give up and he hangs a curve for Willingham who clobbers it over the fence.

Aha! But now Pirates skipper Jim Tracy comes out and notices that Willingham was the improper batter. It should have been Borchard. Tracy appeals before Borchard comes to bat.

The few thousand people at PNC Park and a few hundred compulsive gamblers are waiting on the umpire's call. What do you rule?

2007-07-07 18:07:31
1.   Andrew Shimmin
Six o'clock on the dot. Impressive.

Willingham is out, for batting out of order. Or else Borchard is. I never remember. Runners have to go back to their original places. Willingham bats again. Or else the guy after him does, for the first time.

What I do know is that I'd throw Tracy out of the game, for presuming to upstage me. And for any number of other reasons.

2007-07-07 18:25:02
2.   Sam DC
My guess was that it all goes away and there is one out.

But (1) who is up next -- Borchard and then the sixth batter?

What if a pitch had been thrown to Borchard -- is it too late for Tracy?

My kid asks me "baseball whatif" questions all the time, but they all involve incredibly complicated trajectories of the ball that have nothing to do with physics.

"What if it flies through the air and it crosses over the foul line but then it comes back and goes over the wall inside the yellow pole and then it comes back and drops on the foul line and stops."

2007-07-07 18:25:17
3.   Sam DC
Ignore my aborted numbering.
2007-07-07 18:55:39
4.   Bob Timmermann
Since the ball has ended up on the foul line, which is in fair territory, the ball is fair. If the ball didn't hit any fixed object over the fence, it's still in play.

That said, there are no correct answers yet to the original question.

2007-07-07 19:00:23
5.   Andrew Shimmin
No partial credit for throwing Jim Tracy out? You're a tough grader.
2007-07-07 19:05:41
6.   Sam DC
4 Oh no you don't! If the ball can change directions with no force acting upon it we have much bigger fish to fry.
2007-07-07 19:10:26
7.   Bob Timmermann
It could be very windy.
2007-07-07 19:51:57
8.   Sam DC
7 Congratulations. You've now fully managed the logic of my six year old.

He too blames the very windy wind!

2007-07-07 22:55:38
9.   Andrew Shimmin
Second guess: Borchard's out, everything else stands as is. One out, sixth batter up.

And Tracy gets sent to the showers.

When do we get the final answer, or do we have to look it up if we want to know?

2007-07-07 22:58:51
10.   Bob Timmermann
You're still not right.

I'll post the final answer once more than two people make guesses.

2007-07-07 23:08:05
11.   Eric Stephen
Willingham is out, all 3 of the other runs count, and it's Borchard's turn at bat. In subsequent at-bats, Borchard bats before Willingham.

I think.

2007-07-07 23:11:50
12.   Bob Timmermann
That is still not right.

But as a man of my word, the correct answer is:

The score is Florida 3, Pittsburgh 0.
There is one out.
Josh Willingham will be at bat.

When an improper batter comes up and puts the ball in play and the defense appeals, all activity that took place because of the ball being put in play (or a walk, HBP, or CI) is nullified and the proper batter (in this case Borchard) is declared out. The game resumes with the proper batter, who is the #5 hitter, Willingham.

2007-07-08 13:18:08
13.   Andrew Shimmin
Does Borchard get charged an AB?
2007-07-08 14:08:59
14.   Bob Timmermann
Borchard would be listed in the score book as being out 2-unassisted.
2007-07-11 10:24:22
15.   Humma Kavula
Can we still throw Tracy out of the game?

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