Amusing content from the WSJ today. My favorite rules are 11, 15 and 20.
The Wall Street Journal
The 22 Rules of Backyard Wiffleby Jason Gay
June 30, 2011
The Fourth of July weekend is almost here, when we gather together and celebrate the invention of the outdoor grill by Founding Fathers Ben Franklin and Ryan Seacrest. I'm not schmancy enough to dispense culinary advice—though you may want to flip over that steak, or sausage, or locavore unicorn, or whatever it is—but it's important to have a Fourth of July game, too. And that game is not drunk-on-rum Scrabble. It's Wiffle ball—the reason plastic and beer were invented. Here are the rules of Fourth of July Wiffle ball:
1. It's not a real Wiffle ball game unless you can break a window. Or windows.
2. The perfect Wiffle ball field needs a wall, a fence, a tree, or a sunburned uncle lying prone in the outfield—just something—to smack the ball over for a home run.
3. Use a Wiffle ball, original brand. Don't be the guy who saves two bucks with the discount "plastic outdoor baseball orb with "Reel-Kurve-Action"—then watches it shatter into 11 pieces on a routine fly out.
4. Buy a backup ball. Don't buy more than two backups—part of Wiffle fun is the panic when you think you can't find the last ball, meaning the game will be over and you're really going to have to watch the slideshow of your sister's vacation to Patagonia.
5. Skinny yellow bats only—no taping, weighting, or curving it under a heat lamp. The fat red bat your nephew just got for his 1st birthday? Put it back in the crib. Jeez.
6. Anyone can play in your Wiffle ball game. Mom can play. Dad can play. All the kids can play. Skittles the Labradoodle can play. Okay, Skittles give back the Wiffle ball. Skittles! Mom call Skittles.
7. Grandma can be second base and Grandpa can be third. Hold still, guys!
8. If you play Wiffle ball in a public setting, be warned: the public can join. See that shirtless guy with headphones roller skating to Andy Gibb? Meet your new first baseman.
9. You know that fast-pitch Wiffle craziness you can find on YouTube, with the fratty dudes in uniforms hurling it 84 miles an hour? That's not Wiffle ball. That's unchecked male aggression and most of those players wind up in prison or public office.
10. To that point: no high-speed pitching! Everyone should be able to hit. You are in the backyard with a Michelob in your hand, and you do not care about your earned-run average, Mr. Halladay!
11. Yes you can throw your super-awesome curve ball. But throw it fat and slow over the plate. Like a 2011 Astro.
12. If someone shows up to the game in eye black and a VARITEK or POSADA jersey—pat them on the head, point them to the driveway and call a cab and then the police.
13. Two outs an inning. You want to finish before the mosquitoes, yes?
14. There's no such thing as a "walk" or a "balk" or a "Hit By Pitch" in Wiffle ball. Unless you hit Mom. Then she gets first base, and you need to make her a rum and coke.
15. Look at your team. Look at Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma. Look at Sarah, your niece in art school. Look at Ralph, your second cousin who sells bugs on the Internet. Congratulations, you're in better financial shape than the Los Angeles Dodgers.
16. Objects in play: that rosebush, that Datsun, that Richard Serra sculpture.
17. Decide what you're going to do about baserunners. I ran this by Josh Rubin of Brooklyn, one of the great Wiffle artists of his era, and he's firmly anti-baserunners. "I prefer marking hits and doing the simple math to calculate runs," Rubin says. (Personally, I like runners if there are 5-6 players, because you can throw the ball at a runner to record an out, and it's a great opportunity to settle old grievances with family and friends.)
18. Here's how Josh plays without runners: "Anything on the ground is an out. A single: in the air past the pitcher. Double: lands in front of outfielders but has to be kind of a shot. Triple is over the heads of the outfielders." A home run is over whatever your "fence" is. Runners are imaginary, like in Mariners games.
19. If there's someone from New England in your game they will spend at least five minutes explaining how growing up in New England, there was no such thing as a "a crew cut" or a "buzz cut"—you just went to the barber and asked for a "Wiffle." It's not an interesting story, but it's harmless.
20. Don't get frustrated by flaky players. There is always someone who forgets what team they're on, who forgets what their turn is in the batting order, who is inside the house making a turkey sandwich when it's their time to hit. Don't get mad. Just roll with it, and imagine you are managing Manny Ramirez.
21. If the ball gets hit into poison ivy, just decide which person in your Wiffle ball group is the least-liked, and send that person straight in.
22. The game is over when you hear a window smash. Now everybody run.