Unusual Major League Baseball Rules

You've mastered the balk, the infield fly rule and the other esoteric rules of major league baseball. There's nothing that happens on the field that you don't understand. Or is there? See how well you know the rules for unusual situations, such as forefeits and weather delays.

Chief Authority
The head umpire decides when a game should be suspended or delayed due to bad weather or unfit conditions on the playing field. The head umpire also decides when the game will resume. A game cannot be called off until at least 30 minutes have passed since it was suspended. 

When Is a Game a Game?
A game can be called for a number of reasons, ranging from weather to malfunctioning stadium equipment (specifically field lights) to damage to the field. If the game is called off after six full innings, the game is official. If the home team leads at the end of 5 1/2 innings, the game can be called and it will be official. If both teams are tied, the game can only be suspended and it must be completed at a later date. If the game is suspended before the fifth inning or during a tie, it must be resumed as soon as possible. This once meant as soon as the weather allows, but as the 2008 World Series showed, lengthy delays for night games usually result in the game being rescheduled for another night.

If the playing field is damaged by the grounds crew or someone in the ballpark to the point where a game must be called, the home team forfeits the contest. In fact, the most notable instances of forfeited games have nothing to do with the players, managers, umpires or grounds crews, but with promotions gone awry. In July 1979 the Chicago White Sox held "Disco Demolition Night." Fans were allowed to bring all their unwanted disco albums down onto the field, where a bomb destroyed the albums and tore up the field, halting the game. Similar promotions, such as souvenir baseball night (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1995) and Ten Cent Beer Night (Cleveland Indians, 1974) also resulted in home team forfeitures.

Complete Games
To qualify for a complete game, a pitcher must pitch every inning for his team without the help of a relief pitcher.  In other words, if a game goes 10 innings, a pitcher must pitch all 10 to earn a complete game. If a pitcher's team only fields eight innings-meaning they lose after their half of the ninth-a pitcher qualifies for a complete game. If a game is called before reaching nine innings and is an official game, that also counts as a complete game.

Near No-No's
You might assume that a pitcher can qualify for a no-hitter or a complete if the game is called prior to the completion of the ninth, but this is not the case. A pitcher must pitch every inning of a game and keep the opposing team hitless though the final out of its final at-bat to get a perfect game or no-hitter. In other words, you can't have a no-hitter or perfect game and lose. Prime examples of near-no-hitters include Matt Young pitching eight hitless innings for the Red Sox in a 1992 losing effort, and Pedro Martinez pitching nine perfect innings for the Expos before giving up a hit in the tenth.

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