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July 27, 2012

Pebble Hunting

Where the Pit Would Go If There Was a Pit

by Sam Miller

It’s not a question of if Major League Baseball is going to add a pit to the field, but a question of where they should add a pit to the field. For maximum LOLs and so on. That’s what this is about. It’s about where the funniest place to put a pit would be, were you to decide to put a pit on the baseball field.

1. Just outside the left-handed batter’s box.

Why would we have a pit on a baseball field? This might seem like a rhetorical question, because you simply accept that there would be a pit on the baseball field, having grown up in a world where a baseball field is just assumed to be the ideal place to put a theoretical pit. But somewhere at the very beginning, somebody had to decide that it would be cool to put a pit on a baseball field; it wasn’t preordained and it wasn’t an accident. Really! Trust me on this. So why would we have a pit on a baseball field?

To answer that, we must first ask: Why do we fall in love? Is love, ultimately, a selfless act, a severing of the self to create meaningful connection for another? Do we fall in love to serve our own needs, or do we fall in love because, in the end, our only contribution to this shared existence is what we add to another person’s life?

No. We do it for our needs. We do it because we like hugging and kissing and stuff. And similarly, our pit is for us. Our pit exists because we are cruel, awful people, and look at that dude fall! Putting the pit just outside the batter’s box is the best way to watch people fall. Batters must already perform a fairly complex act (complex both physically and cognitively) and then run immediately at full speed, while (in practice, if not by instruction) watching a moving ball travel through space. A left-handed batter would have do this while his momentum takes him directly into the pit. A right-handed batter would have to do this while trying to leap over the pit.

Casualties (Estimate): Two hundred thousand.

Unintended consequence: Would suppress offense, perhaps too much. Could be remedied by implementing DH in both leagues, and by letting only the two best hitters on each team bat, over and over, with horses as pinch-runners, as needed.

2. In front of pitcher’s mound.

It is often said that pitching is an unnatural act, which contributes to the high injury rate for pitchers. This is everybody’s favorite part of baseball. The unnaturalness, and the injuries. In fact, the main reasons baseball is losing fans to the NFL and Nascar are that there aren’t enough injuries in baseball, and baseball is, if anything, too natural. Pitching off a mound where there is a pit at the pitcher’s landing spot would be more unnatural, and there would be more injuries. It is a win-win. Everybody wins. Name one person who doesn’t win.

Casualties (estimate): Probably 30.

Unintended consequence: Far more visits to the mound by pitching coaches to remind pitcher about pit. “Hey just a reminder watch out for the pit.” “What?” “There’s a pit there, so just, try to avoid the pit.”

3. In front of third baseman.

If we merely wanted to watch players get hurt, we wouldn’t need a pit. If we merely wanted to watch players get hurt, we would just put big padded gloves on them and put them in some sort of raised platform with ropes around it and make them attack each other. We are not that simple, though! We are baseball fans, and any pit-related change (pit-related addition or pit-related subtraction) must also enhance baseball’s eternal push/pull between offense and defense. Fans loved the offensive explosion of the 1990s, but they hated the invasion of steroids. A pit in front of the third baseman would provide an offensive boost without turning baseball players into massive humanoids, as each well-placed bunt would land in the pit and become a home run. Teams would sign the grittiest, scrappiest bunters they could find. Kids would work on bunting drills instead of swinging for the fences or smoking salvia. “Let’s Get America Scrapping Again.”—Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign slogan. We would regain our souls, one bunt home run at a time. It would be amazing.

And, also, the third baseman would have to respond by playing in front of the pit, and just imagine how awesome it would be watching him dodge line drives from 48 feet away. So many injuries! So many GIFs!

Casualties (estimate): Six
Unintended consequences: Home Run Derby would mainly involve bunting. Tiny children fielders would fall in chasing bunts. Pit would fill with writhing children. Nobody hurt, probably, but just a real mess.

4. Around the shortstop area.

1. Probably need to put a pit in an area where there are a lot of pickles. Pickles + Pits could actually be a spin-off sport. Nothing but guys in pickles, while dodging pits. Olympics and the whole thing.
2. I honestly can’t think of one other way we’re ever going to get rid of Derek Jeter.

Casualties (estimate): Derek Jeter, and others.
Unintended consequences: None.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Baseball Pickles

27 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

Not ashamed to say I laughed a whole whole whole lot. Next article: best (worst?) place to put a rusty bear trap. Why rusty? Because you gotta go all the way, baby.

Jul 27, 2012 11:12 AM
Josh A

This piece is swell.

I'm referring to the piece of peach cobbler I'm eating. I maybe shouldn't have written this here.

Jul 27, 2012 11:14 AM
rating: 6

The Jeter Pit needs to go deep in the shortstop hole... Jeter with a long run to his right, picks it up, does his trademark jump throw to first base, OHHHHHH he landed in the pit when he came down!

Jul 27, 2012 11:19 AM
rating: 4
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

I am casting my vote in favor of this plan.

Jul 27, 2012 11:58 AM

Though the Jeter pit needs to be moved closer to second, in its current location it is beyond Jeter's range.

Jul 27, 2012 12:04 PM
rating: 5

Aren't Jeter's "long runs to his right" roughly 3-4 feet?

Jul 27, 2012 12:05 PM
rating: 6

This was hilarious. Love that BP is including comedic pieces with all the hardcore analysis.

My strong vote would be #4 - I think anywhere near/on the batter's box or pitcher's mound would rarely result in actual casualties, since avoiding it would be learned so early. With the ease of hitting balls to the Jeter location, it'd be all sorts of fun trying to defend the pit, step on/close to it while fielding grounders, etc.

Jul 27, 2012 11:21 AM
rating: 1

I've always favored turning the warning track into a moat.

Also, with the rail in front of dugouts now, a water pit in front of the dugouts would turn those walk-off-team-dash-to-field events into a steeplechase. Think of it as a last little extra for the fans.

Jul 27, 2012 11:27 AM
rating: 11

So am I the only one who thinks that from a distance Yankee Stadium looks like an ashtray?

Not the Three Rivers or RFK-type ashtray. The off-center ashtray that belongs to the kid whose guidance counselor forces him to take a ceramics elective, and he looks at the mess he's made about three quarters of the way through, and he thinks about it, and he says, "f--- it, let's go get blazed." That kind of ashtray.

Jul 27, 2012 11:28 AM
rating: 4

The obvious answer is that the pit needs to appear suddenly and unexpectedly at random spots all over the field. It would be like whac-a-mole, except with baseball players (and, occasionally, umpires, bat boys, police officers and bullpen cars) falling down into pits instead of plastic gophers* popping out of holes.

* Don't even try. That's not a mole.

Jul 27, 2012 11:30 AM
rating: 4
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Sure, and I'd like a hoverboard, too. But it's only 2012. Let's be realistic!

Jul 27, 2012 11:36 AM


Jul 27, 2012 14:04 PM
rating: 1
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

I think we need to wait until 2020 for that, when the robots have joined the game.


Jul 27, 2012 11:58 AM

worst baseball video game everrrrr

Jul 27, 2012 14:03 PM
rating: 0
Softy Electric

One of my favorite games. Just put it on my google phone last week.

Jul 28, 2012 09:49 AM
rating: 1

You have not lived until you've watched a drummer and a black belt gang up on a Whack-a-Mole machine. (Or a Wacky-Gator machine as well)

Jul 27, 2012 13:50 PM
rating: 0

Are there crocodiles in the pit? I think there should be crocodiles. For Live and Let Die events.

Jul 27, 2012 11:39 AM
rating: 0

Only for Sunday games.

Jul 27, 2012 11:54 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Somebody asked similar question about tigers. I personally think the charm of the pit is introduction of gravity, not the brutality that happens inside the pit. Reasonable people will disagree.

Jul 27, 2012 12:21 PM

Oddly enough, I have had this conversation before at a ballpark. We also discussed constantly moving outfield walls.

Great article.

Jul 27, 2012 12:31 PM
rating: 2

What about constantly moving pits?

Jul 27, 2012 12:39 PM
rating: 2
Shaun P.

"Our pit exists because we are cruel, awful people, and look at that dude fall!"

I just had to repeat it. Hilarious!

For #3, pop ups in the area of the pit would become quite entertaining.

PBP: "That's popped way up, looks like it will be near the pit. Well Bill, who will risk the pit this time?"

Analyst: "The last three catchers all fell into the pit, and only the first one had language in his contract requiring the team to extract him. The other two are, so far as we know, still down there. It is a deep pit, you can't see the bottom from the edge. I bet this catcher stays away. I wouldn't want to fall into a deep, dark pit filled with my starving predecessors. No telling if you make it out alive."

Jul 27, 2012 12:50 PM
rating: 3
Dave Scott

Yeah, I slept in this morning but is it April Fools day and I didn't know it?

Jul 27, 2012 13:05 PM
rating: 0
Mr. Cthulhu

This was just fantastic. I have very high expectations whenever I read one of your articles Sam and yet you keep living up to them.

I know you want to keep the pit pure, but ma I suggest throwing a Rancor in there for the all star game?

Jul 27, 2012 15:05 PM
rating: 0
Randy Brown

I think the pit should be directly between third and home, with a narrow bridge running across the center like Durin's Bridge. Baserunners would have only one way to go, and opposing catchers can stand at one end of it yelling "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!"

Jul 27, 2012 15:14 PM
rating: 2
Dave Holgado

This is the single funniest thing I have ever read on this site. Admittedly, I read it after three Sweet Actions... but it is damn funny. Keep it up, Sam. (Btw, I think you're way off on the A's trades... Bailey for Reddick was a huge win... the jury is still out on the Gio trade, I know he's looked good this year, but Ollie Perez looked good for a year or two as well... I think that's a good comp actually. Once hitters learn to recognize and lay off the junk, he's going to be in trouble.)

Jul 27, 2012 17:12 PM
rating: 0

awesome article. omg.

Jul 31, 2012 08:39 AM
rating: 0
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