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2005-04-22 - 10:21 a.m.

"What, you're going to spill on yourself?"

I had to get my thumb hole in my bowling ball redrilled. My thumb tends to swell up about halfway through the first of three games, and then the ball sticks on it and pops off and ends up three lanes over.

Our bowling pro shop (it's not nerdy if you're a Southsider, so shut up) is at 63rd and Pulaski, VERY near one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Palermo's. We decided to go there and meet up with the sister-in-law and her husband. We ordered, the bread came out, and I asked my husband to grab a napkin off of the table next to us (it was empty. I wasn't raiding some happy family of their napkins) because there wasn't one at my place. He looked at me and said, "What, you're going to spill bread on yourself?" I just stared at him for a minute.

He then said, "Oh, right. You will probably spill."


And a few minutes later, I knocked the basket of bread onto the floor and (a little) my lap. Good thing I had that napkin...


In my last entry, I mentioned the Great Mini-Keg Beer Geyser Incident. In case you were skeptical? Here is my ceiling. Directly above where the mini-keg was sitting on the kitchen table. Three days after the explosion.

Just imagine the carnage in the rest of the kitchen if beer sprayed out hard enough to hit the ceiling like that. Just imagine.

To go along with the ugliness of that picture, I present to you:
The Ugliest Building in the City of Chicago

This building is right around Archer & (I think) Kedzie. It's in the Brighton Park neighborhood. I point it out to my husband every time we pass it ("Look, honey! It's that ugly building again! They still haven't even repainted it!"), so I figured I'd share with a wider audience.

Baseball for Casual Fans: Installment #4

Infield Fly Rule, or, Wait, Who's Out? Why?*

Before I get into the main portion of this discussion, you need to know two major tenets of baseball.

First, if a runner is on base, he canNOT get to the next base when a ball is hit without:
1.)the ball touching the ground before being caught or
2.)the fielder catching the ball, then the runner touching their current base before running to the next. This is called "tagging up."
Tagging up is an important rule because it adds an element of strategy when fly balls are hit. The runner has to decide if the ball will drop (hit the ground) and he could potentially get farther by starting to run sooner. Or, if the ball will be caught and he is so far from the base he needs to tag that he'll get thrown out. This has made for some interesting double plays -- for instance, a batter hits a fly ball deep into right-center field. The runner thinks there is no way the ball will be caught, so he takes off from first base and has already passed second when he realizes that the center fielder made a spectacular catch and now he has to get back to first. The batter is out because his fly ball was caught, and the center fielder gets the runner out by throwing the ball to the first baseman who steps on the base.

Second, only one runner can be on a base at any time. If the batter runs to first, the runner on first must run to second. If you need further explanation of that, let me know and I'll cover it in a future column. But it is fairly simple in most situations.

The infield fly rule is as follows**:

An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out.

Translated into Casual Fan:

A batter who hits a fly ball that looks like it will be falling in the infield (the diamond portion of the ball park delimited by the bases) will be OUT if:

-The ball looks catchable. Like it would be caught fairly easily by a normal infielder (the pitcher is considered an infielder, as is the catcher if he has moved from behind the batter's box into the infield) who is in the correct position. (one who is not wandering off to pick daisies with the outfielders)

-There are runners on first and second base OR first, second, and third base. Remember the rule I mentioned above about only one player being on base at one time? This is a part of that.

-The umpire invokes the Infield Fly Rule. He actually has to say (yell? grunt?) it to let the runners know.

Now, the real question Casual Fans are asking is, "Why the hell does this need a rule? Aren't the infielders going to catch a ball to make an out if they can anyway?" And it does seem like a redundant rule from that perspective. The reason behind this rule falls under the tagging up portion of what I mentioned above.

Hypothetical senario if this rule didn't exist:
The hated Cardinals are fielding. They're playing the Cubs. Patterson is on second base, Ramirez is on first base, and Lee is batting. Lee hits a fly ball that looks like it will be easily caught by Rolen (the Cardinals third baseman). Patterson and Ramirez stay put so that they won't be thrown out for not tagging up. Rolen says, "Oh, oops! The sun got in my eyes!" and the ball drops right at his feet. Now, the batter (Lee) has to run to first base. The two runners have to run also because they can't occupy the same bases. Rolen then picks up the ball at his feet, steps on third base forcing out Patterson, throws to second base forcing out Ramirez for the double play, and if they're quick enough, Grudzielanek might even throw to Pujols at first base to get a triple play.

The infield fly rule prevents sneaky things like that from happening by calling the batter out and therefore allowing the runners to choose to tag up and run at their own discretion. There's a section of the official rule that says, "Runners may advance at their own risk." So if they see that the ball was about to be caught but gets bobbled and dropped and rolls off somewhere, they can run. But they're not forced to. It's basically a trade -- the batting team gets one out, but they trade it for the safety of NOT getting two or potentially three outs.

*Thanks to supermom for this suggestion! Keep sending them in, all!

**This is shortened -- the whole thing is very long. It's according to the official rules at

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