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What if baseball had five bases

May 23, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 1.21.58 PM

Craig Robinson lives in Mexico. And based on when he tweets, I get the sense that he stays up late nights after going to Mexican baseball games and stuff. And I’m guessing he also has a lot of conversations with friends that start with “so, like, what if — seriously, now, listen — what if …”  Except he’s English so I figure he doesn’t say “like” a lot, but you get where I’m heading. 

His latest thought experiment: what if baseball had five bases. What would happen to the field? How would strategy change? What would it do to a ballpark’s dimensions?

I know it sounds kinds dumb or silly. But dumb and silly is pretty cool sometimes. And this particular example makes you realize that the game we all love is only like it is out of pure random choice by some people who walked the earth back before they invented telephones and typewriters and things.

  1. malbrecht4 - May 23, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    And what if Craig did 5 bongs instead of 4 before he writes these non stories?

    • pilonflats - May 23, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      don’t be a hater

      • historiophiliac - May 23, 2013 at 2:09 PM

        How many do you think he hit before he made that non-comment?

      • heyblueyoustink - May 23, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        I don’t know, but all I can say is if baseball had five bases, my adolescent rankings of certain things would get very muddled.

      • stex52 - May 23, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        So in this alternate universe of five bases, bluey, “Getting to First Base” would become “Meeting her Parents”?

      • indaburg - May 23, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        Not enough, ‘philiac. I am not a pothead, but most I have known are mellow and funny. That guy, neither.

        Star Trek is about to start. Better shut the phone down.

      • heyblueyoustink - May 23, 2013 at 3:56 PM

        Like I said, muddled. And I apparently played in a different ball park if “meeting the parents” was anywhere in yours. Fathers, and their dreadfu, threateningl stares, and such.

        Not that I condone that mindset these days, just saying how it was.

    • bolweevils2 - May 23, 2013 at 2:59 PM

      I thought it was interesting. In fact, I think it would be great if MLB got two teams to try it for one game during spring training as a publicity stunt. Teams that have a real imaginative managers that would try to figure out the potential ways to work this, not some by-the-book type.

    • stlouis1baseball - May 23, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      5 bongs? Really? 5? Dude…I doubt C.C. smokes bunk herb.
      And anything that takes 5 bongs to get a buzz…is most certainly bunk.
      Be realistic. “5 bongs.” Pffft….

      • historiophiliac - May 23, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        This “what if” game really is one you should play high, I think.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 23, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        I agree…anyone who plays the “what if” game should be required to do so while baked.

      • duckthefodgers - May 23, 2013 at 6:34 PM

        You dont take bong rips just to catch a buzz bro. Thats what joints are for.

    • raybrower - May 23, 2013 at 5:06 PM

      Does one take bongs? Do you call it “the marijuana” too?

      • historiophiliac - May 23, 2013 at 5:21 PM


      • tuberippin - May 23, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        I will have five pots, please.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 24, 2013 at 9:10 AM

        Hahaha! Funny stuff Ray. If you are asking me…no…one doesn’t “take bongs.”
        I guess I should illustrate it a little better. Anything that takes five ‘fully packed/loaded’ bongs to get a buzz is bunk. Better? Grate post though. I also drink “the beer.”

        As for fodgers’ comment…I am not sure to even respond.
        Malbrecht insinuated C.C. smoked five bongs.

  2. jack3dsd - May 23, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    What if baseball was played with a flat bat and the pitcher tried to hit the batter

    • yahmule - May 23, 2013 at 1:51 PM

      Bats where allowed to be flat on one side until 1893.

      • yahmule - May 23, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        The lack of an edit function kills me a little inside every time.

    • jerze2387 - May 23, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      itd be cricket?

  3. yahmule - May 23, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    It wouldn’t be as good, but I would still watch it.

  4. icanspeel - May 23, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Then it’d be played on a pentagon instead of a diamond

    • inversedoob - May 23, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      You are correct sir. But the real question as I see it is, will it be a regular pentagon with each inside angle congruent? Or would it be shaped like home plate with some obtuse and right angles thrown in just to mess with the players. Personally, I want that one. With some sides longer than others you could see DP’s start by throwing behind the lead runner more.

  5. pilonflats - May 23, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    You just blew my mind

  6. qacm - May 23, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    That is way way way way cool. Someone needs to start a new pro league playing this way, like now.

    • jerze2387 - May 23, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      After reading the article, i JUST came back here to post a comment of who wants to start a pick-up league like this..gotta crawl before you walk…

  7. lyon810 - May 23, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Thumbs up if you thought it was actor/comedian Craig Robinson (The Office, Hot Tub Time Machine, etc)

    • jerze2387 - May 23, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      i didnt know there was a Craig Robinson besides the comedian. i wonder if these 2 get the Adam jones/Adam jones treatment jones got in canada a few years ago when either Craig tries to enter/exit mexico..

    • eightyraw - May 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      From his website (
      “I am not the actor/comedian who was in Hot Tub Time Machine. I am not Barack Obama’s brother-in-law, either. Nor did I play for the Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies.”

    • stlouis1baseball - May 23, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      I immediately thought of Barry’s Brother-in-law. The basketball coach at Oregon St.

    • indaburg - May 23, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Hot Tub Time Machine was an underrated movie. That scene were Craig yells at his future wife had me in stiches.

  8. Brian Donohue - May 23, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    “… the game we all love is only like it is out of pure random choice…”

    I could scarcely disagree more. Obviously, it’s a topic for either a tavern or a science classroom. I could talk to you about astrophysicist David Bohm’s concept of “implicate order” in the universe, or Kuhn’s notion of “paradigm shifts” in the evolution of intellectual systems. But the main point has to do with the evolution of geometric systems and of course the interaction between such systems and the human presence within them, as for example in architecture, agriculture, and other geo-mathematical spaces and systems. Randomness has nothing to do with this kind of evolution (and, I’d further argue, with any kind of evolution, but that is more a cosmico-spiritual discussion).

    Penetrate the appearance of randomness and you find, in any system you choose to study, Bohm’s implicate order. The 90 foot square is a wonderful example of this kind of study and the fruits it may bear to human understanding and evolution.

    • paperlions - May 23, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      Except of course, he is 100% correct that the choices were not driven by anything in particular…random may be the wrong word as they were obviously striving for some type of structure. At the very least, the choices were arbitrary: number of bases, number of balls/strikes, distances, size of the plate, distance of the mound, size of the ball, etc.

      • dowhatifeellike - May 23, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        The structure of the game was determined by a combination of what resources were available at the time, logic, and trial and error.

        I vaguely remember something from the Ken Burns documentary about a parallel league with slightly different rules existing around the start of the 20th century.

  9. scotttheskeptic - May 23, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    What if the bases were only 89 feet apart? Would any ground ball produce an out? 91 feet? Would any ball in the infield produce a hit?
    Whether through happenstance or trial-and-error, baseball is nearly perfect, IMHO.

    • apmn - May 23, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Hmm. That is interesting. Though plenty of people would say that baseball is far from perfect based on the same aspects that make it perfect for you. More hits and scoring would make the game seem perfect to some people.

    • eightyraw - May 23, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      No it is even close to perfect. You just happen to like it with bases 90ft away, primarily because you have never been exposed to anything different. Had the bases originally been 100ft away, it would be a slightly different game. Maybe you would love baseball even more in this alternate universe and would cry foul at anyone who dared to argue against this perfect distance. The game would adapt/evolve to your proposed changes. Baseball is always changing – the sport is not static. Discussions that move away from inertial reasoning can only help the game progress gracefully.

  10. thomas844 - May 23, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    If there would five bases I would make it so there would be 4 out per inning instead of three (since having five bases would make it harder for the offensive team to score). Then the triple play would be the new double play and the quadruple play would be the new triple play.

    • yahmule - May 23, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      One huge difference is the distance between home and second is much longer. Stolen bases would increase in a big way.

    • bolweevils2 - May 23, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      I think it would be much easier to score, because there would be so much more ground to cover with the same number of fielders, as the article says.

  11. jlovenotjlo - May 23, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    I wonder who would lead the league in quadruples and quintuples…?

    • jerze2387 - May 23, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Mike trout and Andrew Mccutcheon. Speed would KILL in that scenerio. Itd turn it into a game more of those types of guys than hugs sluggers you can stash in LF.

    • jerze2387 - May 23, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Mike trout and Andrew Mccutcheon. Speed would KILL in that scenerio. Itd turn it into a game more of those types of guys than huge sluggers you can stash in LF.

    • jlovenotjlo - May 23, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      There would be less triples due to the location of 3rd base being close to all outfield positions and pushed back further. There would be no point in stretching singles into doubles or going 1st to 3rd because of how easy it would be to steal 2nd base and 3rd base. It would be automatic which would be really stupid for the game.

      Well I’m thinking about this too much. Also, think of the new pickoff moves to 2nd and 3rd base. And of course, what would we call the 5 run homer? Grandest slam?

      • 4d3fect - May 23, 2013 at 8:10 PM


      • 4d3fect - May 23, 2013 at 8:12 PM

        In keeping with the altered states orientation here, how about “high five”?

  12. dowhatifeellike - May 23, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    You’d have to push the fences back to compensate for the fact that a homer would then be worth 5 bases instead of 4. With more real estate out there triples would become more common and quadruples would be quite a feat.

    • albertmn - May 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      It would make the inside the park home run less common than a perfect game.

  13. hansob - May 23, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Let’s do it! Do Miami and Houston play one another this year?

  14. pizzadawg - May 23, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    What if the headphone jack… was on the BOTTOM?

    • moogro - May 23, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Or, one on top and one on the side for tiltable-orientation screen devices so you don’t have to wait every time you consult the screen for it to flip and still protect the headphone jack.

  15. brewcrewfan54 - May 23, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    As long as they keep selling beer I’m happy.

  16. buddaley - May 23, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    You might have 11 or 12 players on the field, 5 infielders and 4-5 outfielders plus the pitcher and catcher.

    • niftydolphin40 - May 28, 2015 at 3:22 PM

      I think there would be a total of 15 players on each side. You’d have the pitcher and catcher. Then the first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, and fourth baseman. Then there would be 2 shortstops, one between 2nd and 3rd, and one between 3rd and 4th. Since the infield would be much larger between the pitchers mound and the basepaths, I would include 2 infielders to cover that ground. Finally there would be 5 outfielders to cover the much wider ground out there.

      I would assume the bases would be arranged in a regular pentagon in 108 degree angles from each base and the same 90 feet between bases.

  17. hansob - May 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    hitters would still be hitters. Miguel Cabrera would still be the league’s best 4th baseman.

    • stlouis1baseball - May 23, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      Miguel Cabrera would still be the leagues best ”hitting” 4th baseman.
      Wow. I didn’t realize how hard typing “4th baseman” would be.

  18. raysfan1 - May 23, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Shortstops would be 3rd basemen.

  19. moogro - May 23, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    More bunts, singles, doubles, triples, quadruples, steals, double steals, triple steals, steals of home, triple plays, runners out for overtaking others on the basepaths, defensive mistakes on not knowing which base to throw to and when, umpires, umpire missed calls on the basepaths, awesome multiple run-downs on the basepaths, etc.

    • jlovenotjlo - May 23, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      almost no doubles and triples because you can steal those bases almost immediately after getting a single.

  20. tampajoey - May 23, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    What if my girlfriend had 3 tits? Or better yet… 4 tits with 2 of them on her back. Awesome!

    • stlouis1baseball - May 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      That is sick and twisted Joey. I just don’t now if it is more sick…or more twisted.
      Come on Man!

    • indaburg - May 23, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      No disrespect, but if your girlfriend has four tits, your girlfriend is quite literally a cow.

      Damn previews taking forever.

  21. raybrower - May 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    What if instead of baseball they called it Chase the Guy with the Candle and there was this guy running around with a candle and a bunch of other guys just chased him and when they caught him they would all yell “CONFER WITH YE!” and then he would have to yell back “THY HAS BEEN CONFERRED UPON!” and then the next shortest guy would take the candle for round 2 (or Purbles the 2nd, in CtGwtC lingo) and they would start chasing him, repeating until the completion of Purbles the 20th.

    That would be just as awesome as having 5 bases.


  22. ndnut - May 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    What if I hadn’t ate those last 7 tacos? What if toilets were indestructible?

  23. canadabaseball - May 23, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    There must be steroids in macaroni !!!

  24. largebill - May 24, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    “And this particular example makes you realize that the game we all love is only like it is out of pure random choice by some people who walked the earth back before they invented telephones and typewriters and things.”

    Not to be a kill joy, but typewriters were invented before the baseball diamond. The QWERTY keyboard set up didn’t come along until the late 1800’s, but forms of typewriters existed well more than a hundred years earlier.

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