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Subject: Re: Randal's Query About a Fly
From: Patrick TJ McPhee <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 14 Mar 1999 13:50:44 -0500

text/plain (58 lines)

Randal wrote:
% Don Hosek wrote:

% > In a message dated 99-03-12 15:58:22 EST, Randal write:
% >
% > << Can you explain the baseball infield fly rule to me?
% >
% > Sure. The umpire can call "infield fly" if the ball can be ordinarily
% > caught by an infielder. Then, regardless of whether the infielder catches
% > the ball or not, the batter is out.

But, only if the ball can be caught by the infielder within a certain part
of the field, and only if there's a possible force play and fewer than two

% And I was thinking about why it is a good explanation, and that is because you
% explained WHY the rule exists in the first place, not merely the rule itself.

Also, he left out the messy part of the rule. Everything's simpler if you
leave out the details.

% Of course, they could have instead made it permissible for a runner not to
% HAVE to run in this situation instead of creating this rule (making for an
% exciting and difficult split-second decision), but I am sure there are
% problems with that solution which I'm not thinking about.

Well, what happens if the infielder drops the ball? The runners _have_ to
advance or there's no-where for the batter to go.

A quite reasonable alternative to the infield fly rule would be to get
rid of it, and let this situation result in a double-play.  Why should
an infield fly be treated differently from a hard-hit ground ball? And
it's not as if a double-play is automatic in this situation. The rule
only seems reasonable if you don't stop to ask what it's there for.

Now, to relate _that_ observation to the `spelling thread', first, I think
baseball is as much on topic in this list as orthographic reform, and I
further think that it's much more interesting. Second, the infield fly
rule is an example of what happens when you go around trying to introduce
arbitrary rules rather than letting the rules develop naturally. You end
up with a complicated mess that doesn't fit in with the whole and people
don't really understand.

So, I'd say you can go off and devise a new spelling system for whatever
language you like, but I guarantee that you will only make matters worse.
You will not change the way most people spell. You will not make it easier
for people to learn to spell. You will only introduce new alternative
spellings and make it more difficult to communicate in the long run.

And you should always remember, there are lots of ways to hit into
a double-play, and there are people for whom `night' is a reasonable
phonetic spelling.


Patrick TJ McPhee
East York  Canada
[log in to unmask]

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