Couple of baseball questions

I noticed that once in awhile a player or umpire will inspect the ball after its caught or there is a wild pitch. Is this taught to the players , or is it just a habit? Why do they inspect the ball?

And this has been a passing thought: A home team who leads in the 9th inning does not have to play the second half of the inning. Can the team elect to play the second half if they wanted to? (Maybe they want to beat a home-run record).


Not sure why. Could be to determine if the ball is still usable, or needs to be taken out of the game.

No can do. Rule 4.10(a) states:

Once the home team is ahead at the end of eight and a half innings, it’s a regulation game.

Zev Steinhardt

The official baseball rules (4.10 (a)) seem to rule out a home team playing the bottom half of the ninth if they’re already in the lead.

On preview, I see it’s a simulpost, but I’ll go ahead if only to provide the link.

Generally, hitters want the ball as “new” as possible. If they see a cut or mark, they can ask for a new ball. The ump is trying to make an objective decision. It doesn’t take much for a new ball to be put in play.

And of course, they’re looking to see if the pitcher is doing a Gaylord Perry/Phil Neikro impersonation.

Phil?? I think you mean Joe. Joe Neikro was the one who was suspended for 10 days when an emery board “fell” out of his pocket on the mound when searched by an ump. Phil, AFAIK, has never been seriously accused of cheating.

(slightly off topic, but humorous story)

I saw an old timer’s game where Gaylord Perry came in to pitch. Some of his buddies brought in a (pre-prepared) pail of water, brought it to the mound and dumped the water over the ball before Perry threw it.

Zev Steinhardt

Nobody has yet mentioned the basic physics here, so I will; forgive me if you knew this already.

Scratches, cuts, or abrasions of any sort on a ball will cause it to curve unpredictably, especially when pitched. Baseballs are very prone to curving downwards or to one side due to imperfections on the ball’s surface. Pitchers can legally use this effect by throwing the ball so that the rotation of the seams causes a variety of nasty, hard-to-hit effects such as a downward curve or drop (curveballs and forkballs) or a left-to-right curve (sliders, screwballs, fastballs.) This is especially pronounced at the major league level, where the pitches are thrown extremely fast and the effect of cuts on the ball’s surface will be most pronounced. In fact, pitchers have been known to deliberately deface the ball using emery boards and hidden blades. This practice is against the rules, by the way, and would result in ejection from the game. Prior to 1920 it was permitted.

Consequently, it is always to the hitter’s benefit to ask that a clean ball be put into play. The umpires generally try to never have a scuffed ball in play, since it’s unfair to the hitters and potentially dangerous.

Pitchers will also sometimes ask for new balls if they don’t like the fell of the old one. Baseballs, as manufactured, are unsuitable for major league play, as they are too slick to pitch. Prior to major league games, the umpires rub down the baseballs with a small amount of (specially produced, allegedly taken from the banks of the Delaware) mud, just enough to get the sheen off the ball and give it a good grip. Some are better rubbed down than others, so if a ball doesn’t have a good enough grip you’ll often see the pitcher throw it back and ask for another.

Yeah, Joe. I think there were some whispers about Phil, too, but that’s probably inevitable when a guy is still pitching effectively in his mid-to-late 40s.