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Changing the rules

by Matt Smith

It was announced yesterday that the MLB’s Playing Rules Committee are bringing in several rule changes for the 2007 season (MLB.com has a decent summary). The most notable change is the way in which tied ballgames will be treated if the game has to be abandoned partway through. The game will now be officially suspended and the two teams will carry on where they left off the next time they are scheduled to face each other.

What’s most striking about yesterday’s announcement is that this is the first time for eleven years that the rules have been changed. If only we had that sort of consistency in most British sports! Whether it’s an actual new rule or a dreaded new “interpretation”, they are generally a waste of time. The new Rugby League season started off in a bit of a farce due to the referee calling several “obstruction” penalties when the dummy runner went between the ball carrier and the defence, even though in many cases he did not really obstruct a player from making a tackle.

And we all know what happens in football. Never mind new rule changes every eleven years, we can’t stage an international tournament or a new domestic season without the ruling bodies interfering (predominantly for the worse). Every season some half-wit directive will be enacted by the refs to much fanfare and anger. After a month or two the officials will just forget about it and we carry on as if it never happened, until the next season comes along and they manage to think up another stupid idea. How often do referees march a team back by another ten yards when they argue about a decision? When was the last time you saw a referee penalize a goalie for holding on to the ball for too long (was it six seconds they were given? Does the rule still exist? Who knows?!)?

I’m glad that MLB takes the sport a bit more seriously than the clowns who run football.

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