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So what happens if a whole team dies at once?

Jun 17, 2010, 8:50 AM EDT

I’m not being singularly morbid here — George or Kramer or someone asked Keith Hernandez what happens if a team plane crashes on an episode of “Seinfeld” once — but I have often wondered what happens if disaster strikes a ballclub.

Thankfully, Maury Brown has gotten a hold of a couple of fun documents fans don’t have ready access to — Major League Baseball’s rules and Baseball’s Constitution — which govern that kind of thing, as well as the business relationships between the teams and the Commissioner’s Office and other logistical matters as well. A lot of the subjects covered by these docs are things that are generally known, but it’s neat to have it all spelled out and available for browsing purposes.

Like the plane crash thing.  Which, because that’s a little too real for me, let’s pretend is a shipwreck instead. Like, the entire Kansas City Royals went out for a pleasure cruise on Lake St. Clair while visiting Detroit and went down like the Edmund Fitzgerald or something. Help us Rule 29!

If a common accident, epidemic illness or other common event (referred to in this Rule 29 as an “occurrence”) causes the death, dismemberment or permanent disability from playing professional baseball of

(1) at least five players on a Major League Club’s Active, Disabled or Suspended Lists during the period beginning with the opening date of such Club’s championship season through the conclusion of such Club’s playing season (including any post-season series); or

(2) at least six players on a Major League Club’s Major League Reserve List during the period beginning with the conclusion of such Club’s playing season (including any post-season series) up to the opening date of such Club’s next championship season

then this Rule 29 shall apply and the affected Major League Club shall be a “Disabled Club.”

It goes on to explain that the “Disabled Club” gets a mourning period in which everyone gathers at the musty old Marine Sailor’s Cathedral or whatever, games are suspended, the Commissioner and the union agree whether or not it makes sense for the team to continue the season and, if not, schedules around the team’s absence.

They’d then have what is referred to as a “Restocking Draft” or a “Rule 29 Draft” in which teams would protect a certain number of players and the stricken team would basically become an expansion team, roster-wise.

It’s really detailed, actually and worth a read if you’re into cold hard tragedy being rendered in the antiseptic language of legal procedure. I can’t imagine it was much fun being the guy who had to come up with that and draft it and everything, but I guess I’m glad it’s there.

  1. YankeesfanLen - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    If you EVER bring up Gordon Lightfoot again in this blog, I quit. Now I’ll have the worst song of any genre running through my head all day.

  2. SouthofHeaven - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Why did I just recreate a couple episodes of Lost in my head with the Phillies as stand-ins for the cast?

  3. Levi Stahl - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    This shows that Major League Baseball is better at planning than Congress, which, last time I checked, still didn’t have any sort of real reorganization plan in the event of some sort of horrible event leading to the deaths of significant numbers of congressmen. You would have thought that 9/11 would have at a minimum led them to make contingency plans, but then, Congress doesn’t ever seem to like thinking about unpleasant things–and especially unpleasant and unlikely things–do they?

  4. Craig Calcaterra - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee . . . .

  5. BC - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Ask Marshall University.

  6. BC - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:22 AM

    Some added background for those of you playing at home:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Edmund_Fitzgerald

  7. Ralph - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Hasn’t this happened to the Mets the past couple of years?

  8. davidc45629 - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    And I will answer this question the same way Hernandez answered Constanza. Who’s the chucker?

  9. The Common Man - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    Don’t tell David Glass about this. The Royals are terrible, and he’s ruthless.

  10. Alex - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:31 AM

    Actually one of the great songs of all time. Those who haven’t heard it should get it at itunes. Also, for those who like the song, there is an Irish folk song called Back Home in Derry (sung by Christy Moore — also on itunes I think) that has the same tune. Very eerie to hear it on a different song if you know this song well.

  11. The Common Man - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Who plays Kate? Mmmmm…Kate.

  12. Kevin R - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    There’s a French-Canadian song, “Wreck of the Julie Plante” that involves various places in Quebec, but a Michigan band covered it and used Lake St. Clair instead, so that’s what I immediately thought of. The Edmund Fitzgerald wrecked in Lake Superior.
    “To all you young sailor men
    Take comfort from that storm
    Go and marry a nice French girl
    and live on a Grosse Pointe farm
    ’cause the wind can blow like a hurricane
    and maybe she’ll blow some more
    But you can’t get drowned on Lake St. Clair
    as long as you stay on the shore”

  13. DG1965 - Jun 17, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    Gordon Lightfoot Sinks Valentine’s Day:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkdFOa7evNs

  14. mexito - Jun 17, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    great story….scroll down to¬®”aftermath”……this club is now the most supported sporting club in the world…..
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_air_disaster

  15. tk1966 - Jun 17, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    If you re talking Philly, then Kate would be played by Kate Smith, of course – and she’d be singing “God Bless America”

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