Indoor dirt on Earth: MLB tackles its ‘dirty little secret’ in the wake of new shift rule

dirt. Maybe you stopped caring about dirt when you were – what? – Maybe 4 years. But it’s time to take care of the dirt again — in baseball at least.

thanks for the Major League Baseball‘s New Transformation RulesDirt is suddenly a big thing again. We’ll cover all the bottom and dirty details for a moment. But trust us: Dirt matters now, perhaps more than ever, because the start of next season, that dirt dictates where players can stand.

Before that, no one in baseball cared much about dirt. You can find a thousand works of great literature that speak enthusiastically about those emerald weeds of grass all over the field. But never get dirty.

Why is this anyway? Maybe it’s because all of these famous authors have the scars of all the dirt they couldn’t get out of their clothes in the wash.

But now it’s time to bring you the inner dirt of, well, dirt — because we learned something cool recently:

Do you know all the baseball diamonds you’ve been staring at all your life? You would think that each of them has the same amount of dirt in their beautifully manicured pitches. But if you thought so, boy, would you be wrong.

It turns out that all the major league stadiums are Not Created evenly. In fact, they are not created equal. This sounds crazy, right? However, multiple sources confirmed this.

There is a mysterious rule in The official baseball rulebook State what those pitches are supposed to look like and where you’re supposed to find—and not find—the dirt in a field. But guess what?

According to sources familiar with all this, this rule hasn’t been given much thought, let alone enforced. So in some larger parks, the dirt on the ground extends deeper than in other parks. We promise we won’t make this up.

And there number Ruling on books that are dictated in them internal The dirt edge must be located. So in almost all parks, that inner edge of dirt takes on a slightly different shape and location, based more on aesthetics than math. seriously.


Red Sox ground staff water the field before the game. Across baseball, stadium crews have some licenses in how the stadium is constructed. (David Butler II/USA Today)

And there is another thing yet. Do you know the dirt/grass line around the bases? It can be placed pretty much anywhere and sculpted but the floor crew enjoys sculpting it. This is already happening. You will be surprised by the number of people who work in baseball They don’t quite realize it.

Oh, they realize that all ball fields look different, with their unique, funky exterior angles and depths. This is one of everyone’s favorite cool things about baseball. Plus, teams helpfully paint big marks on the fences to let you know that it’s not the same in Detroit as in Chavez Ravine. Thank you!

But who knows the dimensions? inferior Aren’t they the same everywhere? a lot of people! the athleteKen Rosenthal was asked a question about it in his podcast the other day. He never noticed that. You can’t blame him. And when we asked a senior executive on a National League team about Wednesday, there was a moment of silence. Then he said:

“Awesome. I had no idea about that.”

Well, it is now. But it’s time for you to clean up every one of these playgrounds. This is due to the new rule that prohibits shifting, starting next season.

This rule requires all players to place both feet on the playing court as each throw is made. Which seems pretty normal until you learn things like…

This dirt isn’t necessarily in the same spot tonight as in that park in Pittsburgh I played last night.

So here’s how the MLB is about to start dealing with this dirty little secret:

• Let’s start with the rule itself. It says the outer edge of the dirt in the field is supposed to extend no more than 95 feet from the center of the pitcher hill. Well its good to know.

• Up to MLB Now Do She plans to enforce this rule, starting next season. Logical.

• but that Do Not She plans to literally apply the rule, according to sources. It would allow up to a foot of leeway in either direction, to account for what one source described as a “mistake”. So the trailing edge of dirt in various parks can still extend 94 to 96 feet from the center of the hill.

An AL executive remarked when we reported that space to him as “interesting.” “If they allow for error, why do I think everyone will err on the larger side?”

Ha. We know why he was suspicious of it, but would the teams really do that kind of thing? Ha again. That answer is: Why don’t they?

In a world where players are no longer allowed to settle on the outside turf, the sooner they can find a safe and legal haven on this dirt ground, the happier they will be. A foot might not seem like much, but if baseball was really a game of inches, who wouldn’t want to order another 12?

However, preparations for the implementation of this rule have begun. MLB officials recently began measuring the depth of dirt found in all 30 parks. Sources say only one park – it is not known which one – is in violation at the moment. This violation will be corrected by the 2023 season. So that seems to be a good thing.

Also, in the future, MLB has notified the clubs that pitches will be checked in depth regularly, just as those responsible for always checking the height of the hill. Likewise, a good thing. But …

This still does not mean that the dimensions of the playground in all parks will be exactly the same. And that, according to one executive quoted earlier, “doesn’t make any sense – because it kind of means you’re playing by different rules in different parks.”

Is this true? The MLB might argue that because, at least going forward, these dimensions will be more similar – and closer to the norm – than they ever were. However, it is fair to ask about this.


Reds’ Donovan Solano scrubs dirt in Washington. (Nick Wass/The Associated Press)

Is this dirt disparity just part of the magic of baseball? Or in these time-restricting shifts of work we’re about to live in, is it, ahem, more complicated than that?

A difference in pitch dimensions and the heights of the various green monsters? Not a problem! That’s just weird. And the fun.

But the difference in the dimensions of the playing field, especially now that the defensive positioning is specifically related to those dimensions? It’s still kind of a twist. But suddenly, it’s more confusing than fun.

“Can you imagine if a 3-point streak would have room in basketball?” asked one of the executives. “Or with the lane, you can make it wider depending on what kind of ball you want to play?”

Well, of course, no one can imagine these things. But in a way, baseball has always been that different. No one would have ever thought that your team’s garden looks different from ours. But if your team’s field is sculpted differently than ours, should someone, well, look into that?

oh wait. We just did that. Hello. It was a dirty job. But someone had to do it.


See also: Joey Votto loves MLB rule changes

(Top photo of Fenway Park Field: Billy Weiss/Boston red socks / Getty Images)

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