John Means threw a no-hitter on Wednesday, facing the minimum 27 batters. It would have been a perfect game, but in the third inning a runner reached on a dropped third strike. Now we must debate whether baseball should change a rule that is as old as the game itself. To paraphrase Heath Ledger's Joker: catchers have to throw down to first base on dropped third strikes every game, but one little perfect game gets ruined and everyone loses their minds.
This debate also took place in 2019 when Justin Verlander notched his 3,000th strikeout on a wild pitch where the batter ended up on first base. Ben Verlander wrote a column last night saying it'stime for MLB to change the rule.
Following the Verlander milestone, MLB published a piece on their website dubbing it "baseball's most bizarre rule." Apparently it is a holdover from a baseball-like game created by German teacher Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths in the late 1700's. The Society For American Baseball Research also covered the topic in 2015.
I'm sorry, but I won't stand around and watch Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths, a man I just heard of for the first time 10 minutes ago, be erased from history.
There is nothing wrong with the dropped third strike rule. It is not some obscure rule that only pops up once a decade or some new experimental nonsense that a new manager like Tony La Russa has never even heard of.
It happens all the time. It's just that most of the time the catcher tags the batter or throws him out at first. And it generally doesn't happen with a perfect game on the line, which is the only reason this is today's shiny object. It's something catchers have had to deal with since they were about 12-years old.
In the 2005 World Series A.J. Pierzynski reached first and eventually scored the winning run in a World Series game on a controversial dropped third strike call. The debate was not whether the rule should be changed, but whether baseball should institute replay. Talk about a simpler time.
The whole fight against instant replay was about baseball tradition and not taking the human element out of the game. Catching a ball is a very human act. It's at the heart of the entire sport. Throwing, catching, hitting, running. It's as simple as playing catch.
The pitcher and catcher throw the ball back and forth and when something breaks that up, something has to be done about it. If it's put in play the fielders have to deal with it. If it goes foul the umpire gets a new ball. If it gets past the catcher, he has to go get it while runners try to advance.
The pitcher pitches. The catcher catches. It's that simple.