Rowley: The text and also subtext of baseball’s rulebooks

From SABR member Meg Rowley at FanGraphs on April 12, 2018:

Baseball is enjoyable this time of year. It’s like catching up with a friend we haven’t seen in a while. We spend April trying to figure out what the game is — not as it is right now, I mean, but as it will be all season. We parse through small bits of over- and underperformance, endeavoring to sift signal from the noise. Shohei Ohtani has been great. That probably means something! Ryan Flaherty has also been good. We might expect that means less. The Dodgers will likely recover; the Padres likely won’t.

With any friend, part of learning the who of them is knowing what matters and what is mere flotsam; alma maters and disappointments, cities lived in. Sayings only our mothers use. It’s why it is so hard to make new friends as an adult: grown-ups have all these stories from way back, full of people we don’t know, doing all sorts of things. It’s a lot to learn.

And while baseball’s who shifts around and grows, changing with new players and seasons, there are bits that endure, memories of childhood and cut grass that constitute a more fixed personality. I thought I might look beyond April to other artifacts, stories from way back full of people. So, inspired by how little they change year to year, I made perhaps an odd choice — namely, of reading The Official Professional Rules of Baseball and The Official Baseball Rules (2018 Edition), to see what baseball tells us about itself.

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Originally published: April 12, 2018. Last Updated: April 12, 2018.