Big League Stew - MLB

It's hard to believe, but MLB is actually trying to prevent a problem before it happens.

No, Bud Selig hasn't given the go-ahead for full instant replay. (They wouldn't go that far.)

Rather, the ground rules for those meddling catwalks at Tropicana Field have been altered ahead of Wednesday's ALDS Game 1 between the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers

Marc Topkin's The Heater blog has all of the legalese, but the gist is that the two highest rings (A- and B-rings) have been taken out of play. So instead of infielders chasing the crazy caroms and bounces of towering fly balls, the play and pitch will be ruled dead. Like kids on a playground the umpires will have to yell "do over!"

That's still a less-than-ideal situation, but it's worlds better than a big playoff game being decided with a game of pinball in a dome. Though Topkin reports that only 27 fair balls have hit the top two rings in 13 seasons, we saw this season what effect they could have. The Twins beat the Rays in August after bouncing a ball off a catwalk and another incident almost played a big role in a Rays-Yankees game earlier in the season.

No, the catwalks didn't play any big roles in the Rays' previous playoff appearance — though B.J. Upton(notes) did blast a homer off one of the outfield rings — but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Who knew the MLB could be so proactive?

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