MLB Fun - Moundball and Odds-Evens
The beauty of baseball is that it can be enjoyed on many different levels. When I go to a game, I can become deeply engrossed in every little nuance of the battle between pitcher and hitter. I think through the different defensive options, shifting my outfielders to the hitter’s pull-side or calling for my infield to stand at “double-play depth.” I can argue with my brother-in-law over the merit of dropping a bunt or putting on the squeeze play. Or, I can simply sit back and pound a few beers while watching grown men play so well the game I enjoyed as a kid. Most people fall into this last group. An expedition to the ol’ ballpark serves as a chance to take in the ambiance of our nations great past time while also enjoying casual conversation with our friends and families. In my last article, (Baseball's Boring? Think Like a Pitcher) I tried to offer a fresh perspective for enjoying the game on a deeper level. Today, I want to do the opposite. I have on offer two different ways to make attending a ballgame more fun for the casual fan, Moundball and Odds and Evens.
I first heard of Moundball from a caller on The Jim Rome show about eleven years ago. Finding the action of the Astros game a bit lacking, they developed an entertaining way to get more for their money. Upon emptying one of their $8 beers, they decided to employ it is a kitty. Each of the four friends put a dollar into the cup. They randomly decided who would get to hold the cup first. If, at the end of the inning, the person who recorded the last out tossed the ball back towards the pitching rubber and it stayed on the dirt, the person with the cup would get to keep its contents. If not, everyone would put another dollar in and the cup would pass to the next person. Easy enough. My friends and I gave it a try at a Cubs game later that summer (being 20 at the time, we used a hat). The four of us had a great time with it. In fact, several of the people around us caught on to what we were doing and joined in on our trash-talking.
This is a very easy game that everyone can play. All it really requires is to watch what happens after the last out is made. Every time we play it, we work out the rules and caveats anew. This can be an entertaining process in itself. Our rules generally come down to one principal: the person who recorded the final putout is the only one who can touch the ball before it stops on the dirt of the mound, resting such that it touches absolutely no grass. In other words, if he throws it to someone else, you lose. If he throws it towards the mound and someone kicks it, you lose. If he throws it and it sits on the lip of the mound, resting on the edge of the grass, you lose. There are all sorts of different add-ons and penalties you can apply. The person holding the cup could take his dollar back if the player throws the ball into the crowd. You could win half of the cup if the umpire throws a ball which satisfies the other rules. The possibilities are endless.
Odds and Evens is another such game. It requires that someone in the group knows how the positions are numbered (1=P, 2=C, 3=1B, 4=2B, 5=3B, 6=SS, 7=LF, 8=CF, 9=RF). It also means that you will have to watch the game a little more closely. This game can be played with 2-4 people. Here is how it works: Everyone puts a dollar in a cup at the start of each half-inning. Then the person holding the cup decides to take odds, evens, outfield, or none (odds gives you the pitcher, first, and third; evens gives you the catcher, second, and short). Each person after that gets to pick from the remaining options. If any group makes a majority of the putouts in the half-inning, its owner wins the cup. If one out is made by each of the odds, evens, and outfield, “none” wins or the cup rolls to the next half-inning. Every one puts another dollar in, and the cup moves to the next person. They would then begin the selection process anew. It’s important to remember that it’s all about the putout. If the pitcher strikes someone out, the catcher is the one who records the putout (if he doesn’t catch the ball, the batter can run to first in most cases).
Again, there are a few tweaks that can be made here and there. You may demand that everyone pays an extra dollar if someone’s pick makes all three outs. If you have less than four people, you will face some innings where no one wins. Before the game starts, you need to decide how to handle this (let it roll or add a dollar). You can also attach bonuses to one or all “picks” (ie. A home run means that the person with “none” gets to take $2 out). Again, have fun and be creative.
I highly recommend that you give these games a chance. You can substitute anything for the dollars (gummy bears, quarters, chores, whatever). They have provided a lot of fun for my friends and family. I hope they do the same for you.