With the Arizona sun shining brightly and nosebleeds springing up all over in the warm desert air, pitchers and catchers are filing in Maryvale Baseball Park with plenty of hope, anticipation and per diem. So here is a little pre-Cactus League quiz to get your brain back in baseball mode. Ten random nuggets to see how close you are to "game ready." Good luck. Answers below, don’t peak!
1) For you autograph hounds: On a team-signed baseball, where should you find the manager’s signature?
2) A batter’s line drive hits a baserunner in fair territory leading off first. Who’s out? Who stays?
3) Which base is known as the "keystone?"
4) Speaking of the keystone…how do middle infielders communicate with each other about who is to cover second on a stolen base attempt?
5) How many ways can a batter reach 1st base?
6) What is the best pitch in baseball?
7) If two bats are the exact same length and the exact same weight, how can you make one lighter to swing?
8) A line drive hits the pitching rubber, ricochets away, rolling between home and first into the dugout…what’s the ruling?
9) If the next batter up is "on deck," what do you call the third batter due up?
10) Finally, what is the most important stat in baseball?
How’d you do? Thanks for playing!
1) The Manager’s signature should be between the parallel laces, a.k.a. "The Sweet Spot" Players will always leave this spot blank for the manager on an autographed team ball. If it’s not that way, it’s a fake.
2) The baserunner is out. The batter is credited with a single. In this example, the first baseman (closest defender) get’s the unassisted putout (3-U).
3) Second base. Shortstop Hardy and second baseman Weeks are known as the "keystone combination." It’s an old-timey thing…but I still like it.
4) By signaling with the mouth. Usually the glove hides the signal. The two middle infielders look at each other before the pitch, one signals with an open mouth (meaning "you"), the other with closed lips (meaning "me"). If both players cover the bag, then it’s time for some "mouth" wash!
5) Seven: via hit, walk, hit-by-pitch, error, catcher’s interference, fielder’s choice, and passed ball/wild pitch following a swinging strike three.
6) Strike one! The stats don’t lie, the percentages of outs swing heavily in favor of the pitcher after strike one.
7) By "cupping" out the barrel. This is done by the bat manufacturer, carving out the end making it concave instead of convex (don’t worry, it’s legal). During a swing, weight is distributed to the end of the bat. By removing some mass (making in concave) it swings lighter than a convex-shaped bat end. And, you can stand it up in the on deck circle.
8) Foul ball. If it does not cross over a base, it’s foul no matter how it ends up there as long as it is not touched by a player in fair territory. The pitching rubber is considered part of the field.
9) "In the hold." Yes, HOLD, with a "D." Commonly accepted as "the hole" but the origins of the moniker have a nautical theme. On a ship, you "swab the deck." The supplies go "down in the hold." So the batter following the "on deck" hitter, is "down in the hold."
10) Win/Loss!!! Other stats help write the story, but ultimately, they all lead to the win/loss total. Was that total good enough for a championship?