Yo Joe!

Big fan of Bill James’ “Hey Bill” feature on his website where he engages readers, answers questions, posts responses and so on. I asked Bill about it not long ago, and he told me that he (mostly) likes doing it because it keeps his mind sharp about things.

My mind is not sharp about things at the moment. I’m in full-fledged writing mode on my book about Tom Watson and his rivalry and friendship with Jack Nicklaus. At NBC, we are getting close to unveiling what I think will be a very cool new thing. With fatherhood and husbandhood and my goal to ascend the tennis rankings, no, I’m not sharp about things at all and while I know that writing here has slowed to crawl, it will now slow down to a halt.

So, I thought, why not do a little “Yo Joe!” segment where I answer a couple of emails as often as I can. Could be fun and not too time consuming. Might be a nice way to keep the blog somewhat active during a thoroughly inactive time.

Let’s give it try. You can email me with comments, questions, or whatever.

Here are a coupe of Yo Joes! to start.

From Brilliant Reader Al:

Debate going on a friend's facebook post about a completely unrealistic, theoretical situation. What is the highest possible number of errors in one inning without allowing a team to score runs. We have answers ranging from 4 (way too low) all the way to infinity. The only caveat we have added is that the error must occur on a ball in play, so no pick-off errors and no mishandling pop flies in foul territory. A little help would be appreciated. My answer, by the way, is 15. Joe:

Well the technical answer is infinity since, just as a starting point, a foul pop-up dropped can be considered an error. So you can hit an infinite number of those and never score a run.

But I think the kind you are referring to involve errors gaining bases. So my thinking is this is the most you can do without scoring a run:

Error 1: Error allowing batter to reach first. Error 2: Error allowing runner to reach second. Error 3: Error allowing runner to reach third. Runner picked off. Error 4: Error allowing batter to reach first. Error 5: Error allowing runner to reach second. Error 6: Error allowing runner reach third. Runner picked off. Error 7: Error allowing runner to reach first. Error 8: Error allowing runner to reach second. Error 9: Error allowing runner to reach third. Error 10: Error allowing batter to reach first (bur not first runner to score) Error 11: Error allowing runner to reach second (but not first runner to score) Error 12: Error allowing batter to reach first (loading bases)

I don’t see how you can get any more errors without giving up bases, not counting all the errors you could have in foul territory. But I could be missing something — I’m sure our brilliant readers will offer something more.

From Brilliant Reader Michael:

I see that there were back to back days with 19 inning games, and what with the World Cup still fresh in my mind, I wondered what would baseball use as a 'tiebreaker' if they wanted to decide their 'overtime' games similarly to soccer's penalty kicks or hockey's shootout. I understand that there is NO WAY that Major League Baseball will ever adopt any such rule, but I thought it would be an interesting exercise, and an idea for a blog column. Or maybe not. The most obvious answer would be some kind of mini-home run derby, which would be great fun, but you'd have to use your own pitcher like in the all-star contest, and i'm looking for something more confrontational, like in hockey or soccer. Maybe each team sends up any 4 batters and whoever hits it the longest? Or a regulation inning, and whoever advances the farthest. Maybe baseball doesn't lend itself to such a finish? Joe:

I actually think baseball SHOULD consider some sort of fun tiebreaker like that because fewer and fewer people get excited about extra innings. Fans — even good fants — tend to leave the games. But I think your point is right — the game is too resistant to change and would never try something wild like this.

That said, this is EXACTLY the topic I’ve been exchanging emails with the magnificent Tom Tango about. I’ll have to bring out those emails for a future installment of Yo Joe! but off the top of my head I remember that one of Tom’s ideas was an action pitch inning (where every batter starts with a 3-2 count) and another involved a situational inning (maybe something like runner on second, nobody out, if the batting team scores they win, if not the team in field wins — and home team would get to decide whether to play at bat or in field).