Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Fed versus The Infield Fly Rule

I was a bit of a conundrum as a schoolboy athlete. Among my physical deficiencies I am slow on my feet, I am possessed of small hands, have always been a bit of a pudgy boy and, regardless of my 6’1” frame, I have very little upper body strength. On the positive side my instincts for sports were keen, I could make contact with any baseball thrown in the vicinity of home plate, I could kick the air out of a soccer ball and was willing to try to tackle anything. But generally my skills were very average. I was always the last kid to get cut from all my school basketball teams. I grew weary of the drudgery of football practice and gave it up when I got to high school. But oddly, I played organized baseball until I was 19. Looking back that still surprises me. Through the late 60’s and into the summer of ’71 - a time of immense social upheaval, marijuana, weird and wonderful music and a general disdain for most things American (like baseball) I continued putting on the grays, lacing up the spikes and chanting, ‘Swing batta-batta-batta!’. I just loved it, I guess. It is a unique game. I won’t bore you with a list of the reasons it is a special game but I do wish to focus on one: the rules. If you’ve played or followed the game most of the rules make perfect sense. For those foreign to the sport it must appear to be absolute, reckless and rebellious nonsense. (The story is told that a Scotsman was attending his first professional baseball game with a few American pals who were doing their best to explain the game as it unfolded. A batter was ‘walked’ during his time at the plate and as he trotted down to first the Scottie asked, ‘He didn’t get a hit – why is he going to first base?’ A pal replied, ‘He has four balls so he gets a walk.’ The Scotsman said, ‘Four balls!’ and then stood and cheered, ‘Walk mate, walk with great pride!’) One of the oddest rules in the game of baseball is called The Infield Fly Rule. It has been part of the game since 1895 but is seldom utilized and thus is cloaked in mystery. The rule also involves some discretion on the part of the umpires that makes it even more peculiar. It’s actually a simple rule that was created to combat a sly, sinister and perfectly legal bit of defensive strategy. The rule basically states that if there are runners on first and second base (or first, second and third base) with fewer than 2 outs and the current batter hits a fly ball that would likely be caught with typical effort within the general area of the infield by any defensive player, the batter is ‘out.’ Prior to the imposition of this rule the infielders would purposely drop the ball (or simply let it hit the ground) pick it up and easily start a double play on the base runners who were ‘tagging up’ on their pre-pitch base. Which brings me to the Federal Reserve. In 1913, fewer than 20 years after the institution of The Infield Fly Rule into America’s beloved game, a few sly and sinister men devised and foisted upon our Congress the vilest rules of finance ever known to mankind. Unlike this odd baseball rule that actually enhanced the game The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 actually ruined our country – years ago – and it continues to trample the bloody corpse. To explain The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to an individual unfamiliar with its design would be like using Aramaic sign language to explain the infield fly rule to an elderly woman who had spent her entire life in the Himalayas. I believe a most worthy celebration of the 100th anniversary of the FRA1913 would be its abolition and the incarceration of all those still living who have perpetrated its poison. Let’s not drop the ball on this opportunity!


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