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'There had been no obstruction:' Found poetry in the MLB Official Rules

Three poems written using the MLB Official Rules

On the surface, MLB's Official Baseball Rules are not much more than what the name implies: a list of rules. The handbook is more than 150 pages, broken down into nine sections, each with its own series of sub-sections. There's a glossary. It is mostly filled with straightforward sentences such as:

"Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, played on an enclosed field in accordance with these rules, under jurisdiction of one or more umpires."

But if one wades through the breadth of the rules, a rhythmic beauty emerges. Ripped from their context, sentences take on added meaning.

The practice of "found poetry" is taking existing prose and turning it into a poem. You can reorder sentences, chop them up and blend them together. And fortunately for us, the rich text of the rulebook is ripe for poetry. Below are poems crafted entirely of lines from the Official Rules. Some are whole sentences, some are fragments. They've been reordered and in some instances given new punctuation. 

Maybe you'll be inspired to write your own. 

"It shall not be called a balk"

There is a balk.

It is a balk when

there is a balk.

It is a balk if

this would be a balk

to be interpreted as intent to deceive and ruled

a balk.

If a balk is made,

but not limited to a balk,

a balk is committed.

There is a balk. 



The field shall be laid out according to the instructions below:

Rubbing it with soil

around a small core of cork,

the web shall measure not more than seven inches across.


Through leather tunnels

enter the playing field five minutes before the hour set,

or forced to vacate it.

Weather conditions warrant an exception.


In running the last half of the distance from

the grassed and bare areas of its playing field,

no player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any

granted "Time."


"There had been no obstruction"

It is desirable that the line from home base through the pitcher's

plate to second base shall run East-Northeast,

this space is permanently fixed

and cannot be

enlarged, extended, widened, or deepened,

especially when signs are being given.


When you enter a ballpark your



employs tactics palpably designed

to resume action.


Who is advancing toward, or touching, or returning?


The batter may advance to home

base at his peril,

he may take one step backward, and one step forward with

his free foot,

the result of acts which occurred

while the ball was alive

... the ball is dead, and no runners may advance.


The person 

of a player or an umpire is any part of his body,

he is then entitled to it until he is put



Darkness makes further play

in daylight hazardous.