Remington: Why are unwritten rules disputed and written rules ignored?

From Alex Remington at The Hardball Times on September 28, 2015, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:

Baseball has an extraordinarily extensive rulebook — the latest version runs to 172 pages, and Major League Baseball helpfully appended the entire 2014 rulebook to the 2015 PDF, so it comprises 282 pages in all. But it still remains relatively laconic, when you think about all of the things that aren’t there. That makes sense, to some degree: the Government Printing Office’s PDF of the American Constitution is a mere 85 pages. And that’s the governing document for a country of 300 million people, not just a league of 30 teams.

Of course, there are rules, and there are rules. Or, more to the point: the rules aren’t necessarily the rules. (Wrestling isn’t wrestling, either.)

That’s the point that baseball historian John Thorn made to me in an interview about the New York Knickerbockers, who in 1845 compiled baseball’s first surviving rulebook. You can read it today, a svelte list with a mere 20 rules that somehow, improbably, describes a game relatively similar to the one that we pay to watch men play 170 years later.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: September 28, 2015. Last Updated: September 28, 2015.