Schiller Rule Opens Door on Tough Trivia Questions

One thing that the new tie-breaker “Schiller Rule” now employed for international tournaments and Cuban League games offers is a whole new range of perplexing trivia questions available to stump even the most hardened barroom diamond trivia expert. May favorite one would have to be the following – try it out the next time you want to win a wager at your favorite local tavern:

Holguin's Raimar Navarro on route to history-making no-hitter during recent Cuban League Schiller Rule game.

How can a pitcher toss a ten-inning perfect game (retire every batter he faces without permitting a single base runner) and yet entice two of those outs via a double play?

Now there is a brain teaser if there ever was one. Of course it has never yet happened, but it certainly is theoretically possible. And of course if you have been reading my earlier posts this week you now know just how it could happen.

Answer: With a perfect game intact through nine frames the starter continues on into the tenth, where the inning begins with the gifted runners on first and second (via Schiller regulation). The first batter attempts the sacrifice bunt usually called for under this scenario but errantly taps into a double play. With one remaining runner still aboard, the pitcher then retires the final batter (strikeout, pop out, ground ball, whatever?). Perfect game accomplished. The pitcher never allowed any batter he faced to reach the base paths (the gifted base runners are simply there by rule and not by any pitcher shortcoming). This is no longer your grandfather’s baseball game.

Of course it gets even better since there are now a whole raft of other unorthodox situations and thus related tantalizing trivia questions that also result from the same Schiller scenario. For example:

How can a pitcher throw a perfect game and yet permit a run to score (winning the game, say, by a 2-1 score)?

Answer: The game goes to the tenth 0-0 with one pitcher maintaining a perfect game. His team plates 2 runs in its half of the tenth. The no-hit pitcher must now start the bottom of the inning with the two runners aboard and the first hitter he faces sacrifices them both into scoring position. The second batter lifts a sac fly to left (one run scores). The last batter makes out, preserving both the no hitter and perfect game (the pitcher never permitted any batter he faced to reach first base!)

How can a pitcher hurl a perfect game of nine or more innings and yet not face the minimum number of batters (30 batters for ten innings, let’s say, in order the get the required 30 outs)?

Answer: Here we return to the first scenario above – the one with the double play. Since the two automatic runners aboard allowed the very first hitter to bang into a double play, the pitcher faced only two batters to get the three outs in the tenth. He faced only 29 total batters even though his team recorded 30 putouts for the game.)

How can a batter record an RBI in a game where his team is the victim of a perfect game hurled by the opposing pitcher?

Answer: This is the same scenario recapped above when the first batter in the tenth sacrifices and then the second produces a sacrifice fly to the outfield.

How can a pitcher hurl a perfect game (he permits no batters to reach base) and yet also pick one runner off base during that same game?

Answer: Obvious, he picks off one of the Schiller automatic runners for one of the outs in the tenth-inning tie-breaker frame.

I could go on here but I think you are getting the point. The Schiller Rule has not only changed international baseball but also changed the baseball trivia game. Most traditionalists hate the new rule (which by the way I believe the dictates of high-dollar televised baseball will soon enough bring to the major leagues). Managers and ballplayers certainly despise it. I myself – now having witnessed it live now on a half-dozen occasions – think it is wonderful and adds an unparalleled element of excitement to tight late-inning contests. Soccer and football long ago figured out the charms of sudden death play for unsurpassed fan entertain. Now it’s finally baseball’s turn. (And remember that this has nothing to do with eliminating baseball’s sacred and unique freedom from the time clock; there is no time clock here in extra frames and the game could still go one for inning after inning if no team pulls ahead. It is just more unlikely now.)

Cuba's Michel Enriquez provided the winning tenth-inning double in victory over USA during first memorable Schiller Rule game at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

While we are at it, here are a few more:

How can a pitcher now toss a perfect game and still lose the contest?

Answer: The perfect-game pitcher (home team) gets the first hitter in the top of the tenth on a sac bunt, then retires the second on a sac fly (which brings in the game’s only run), and concludes the frame by retiring the third hitter. He has faced the minimum 30 batsmen and not permitted a single one to reach base, but he now trails 1-0. In the bottom of the frame his team doesn’t score. It is a 1-0 “perfect game” loss – something still waiting to occur in actual play.

How can a batter register a game-winning RBI in a contest in which his team is victim of a perfect game tossed by the opposing pitcher?

Answer: Same scenario as the previous one.

Okay, I will let you take it from here. Thank you, former IBAF President Harvey Schiller. You have truly enriched the game of baseball – and I don’t mean that sarcastically.

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