By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

Welcome to another edition of Stump Page 2, where the bubble of ignorance is popped by the RPI ratings of enlightenment …

Dear Stump Page 2:

Why do the Indianapolis Colts have an offensive coordinator when Peyton Manning audibles out of every play-call?
Jeremy May

Peyton Manning
Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo
Might as well add the "offensive coordinator" title to Peyton's resume. (Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo)

Whom else is Manning going to blame for his postseason flameouts -- his offensive line?

Dear Stump Page 2:

I'm coaching a junior high baseball game. Late in the game, I decide to intentionally walk a batter. Worried about my hard-throwing but erratic pitcher, I ask the ump if I can bring in my right fielder to back up the catcher, in case my pitcher throws a wild pitch. He says no, and I don't press it, so as not to embarrass my pitcher or, more accurately, infuriate his parents. Is there a rule against what I wanted to do?
Alby W.

Yes, but the rule isn't completely clear. According to the Major League Baseball rule book, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on fair territory when the ball is put in play. In addition, the rule book states that:

a) The catcher should station himself directly behind the plate. He may leave his position at any time to catch a pitch or make a play except when the batter is being intentionally walked, in which case he must stand with both feet inside the lines of the catcher's box until the ball leaves the pitcher's hand.

b) The pitcher, while in the act of delivering a pitch, must take his legal position.

c) Except for the pitcher and catcher, any fielder may station himself anywhere in fair territory.

d) No offensive players save the batter and runners attempting to score may cross the catcher's lines while the ball is in play.

Case closed? Not entirely. Friend of Stump Page 2 and Washington Times baseball writer Mark Zuckerman -- currently in sunny Florida for spring training, not that we're jealous or anything -- ran the question past Nationals catcher/utilityman Matt LeCroy, who seemed puzzled by the catcher being the only player allowed in foul territory before the pitch.

"Really?" LeCroy said. "I didn't know that. I thought you could. That doesn't make any sense, because what if I hold a guy on first base and I'm straddling the bag with my feet? That's in foul territory."

Hmmm. Good point. Regardless of rule confusion, Stump Page 2 believes you did the right thing by not pressing the issue. If this story is any indication, hell hath no fury like a Little League parent infuriated.

Dear Stump Page 2:

Why is it that no matter what color shampoo is in the bottle, the soap suds are always white?
Chris Stratton

Here's the scoop: According to C. Craig Nunn, a New Jersey-based technical consultant to the soap and shampoo industry, the answer has to do with the difference between transmitted and reflected light.

First, think back to your junior high science class. Ever play with a prism? Remember how ordinary white light is actually a mixture of all the colors of a rainbow (that is, the visible spectrum)?

When white light is transmitted through the thick layer of shampoo inside a bottle, some of the aforementioned colors are removed by a process called light absorption. Take away yellow, for instance, and the shampoo in the bottle will appear blue.

By contrast, foam consists of many thin films of shampoo dissolved in water, crammed into a tiny space and oriented in all directions. Each film, Nunn says, reflects light the way the surface of a lake does. When white light hits foam, most of it is reflected -- very little color absorption takes place, making foam appear white.

Dear Stump Page 2:

Is there an East Coast bias in sports?

Yes. This is why Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy, why Shaun Alexander captured the NFL MVP award, why word of Kobe Bryant's 81-point game took three days to travel east of the Mississippi -- the Pony Express is only so fast -- and why no one on the Atlantic seaboard has ever heard of Gonzaga's Adam Morrison.

Sorry. You didn't deserve that. As a former Left Coaster, Stump Page 2 feels your pain. However, we've spent enough time back East to conclude that the only regional sports biases are as follows:

a) Anything in New York -- hello, Eli Manning! -- gets overhyped because New York is the media capital of the country and also the home of Donald Trump.

b) East Coasters mostly care about their local teams, same as everyone everywhere else, which means East Coast papers are full of East Coast sports news.

c) East Coasters need sleep too, especially when the late game involves the Golden State Warriors and/or Pac-10 basketball. Would someone living in Sacramento or Corvallis stay up till 1 a.m. to see, say, St. John's take on Pitt? Not bloody likely.

Also, it would help if Los Angeles would at least fake some interest in getting an NFL team. Really, SoCal, what's up with that?

(Besides the beautiful women and gorgeous weather and horrendous traffic and no real reason to waste a Sunday at a football game when you could be at the beach, that is.)

Dear Stump Page 2:

Why is it that if on first-and-10 a running back carries the ball and ends up one inch short of a first down, he is only given credit for nine yards? It seems to me that he got shorted a yard.

First of all, the running back technically isn't being shorted a yard, but rather 35 inches (one inch short of a yard). That said, your confusion is understandable, since spotting the ball, determining yard lines and crediting runners with yardage is as much an art as a science.

Here's a quick rundown of how it works, courtesy of the 2005 NCAA football rule book:

Mike Anderson
Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo
Football is a game of inches -- but you can only be so exact. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo)

a) If any part of the football rests on or above any yard stripe (as spotted by the officials), future action is computed from that yard line. Hence the importance of the chain gang on fourth-and-inches.

b) If ALL of the football has advanced BEYOND any yard stripe, future action is computed from the first yard line in ADVANCE of the football, or nearest the intended goal.

c) In situations where there is less than one yard to gain for a first down or a touchdown, the ball is for statistical purposes considered to be one yard short of a first down or touchdown -- even if the ball is actually a single inch away from the line.

The key concept here? Statistical purposes. Rushing numbers are tallied in yards, not inches, so stat keepers basically round up and down to the nearest yard depending on the situation. Willie Parker runs for nine yards and 35 inches but only gets credit for nine yards; Jerome Bettis scores a one-inch touchdown on the next play and is given a one-yard TD.

So, back to your question. Are guys like Parker getting shorted? A bit. But only because of the wildly impractical alternative -- tediously measuring and recording runs down to the inch, which would prevent CBS from ever getting to "60 Minutes," even on the West Coast.

Besides, do you really want to have to keep track of rushing inches in your fantasy league? Even for the obsessed, that's a bridge -- and a yard -- too far.

Dear Stump Page 2:

Why do we say the alarm went "off" in the morning when it actually went "on"?
Thad Lurie

Unless you're one of those bright 'n' early people who doesn't need an alarm clock in the morning -- in which case, Stump Page 2 hates you -- the phrase "the alarm clock went off" is probably something of a Freudian slip, a testament to the power of wishful thinking.

Also, it's worth noting that most morning alarm clocks ultimately end up turned off -- sometimes from hitting the snooze bar 16 times in a row, sometimes from yanking the power cord out of the wall like the high priest pulling hearts in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," sometimes from throwing the damn thing clear across the room.

Perhaps by using the term "off" instead of "on," we're simply cutting to the happy ending.

Dear Stump Page 2:

There's a commercial that I've seen recently in which a man leaves his house, kisses his wife, puts on a helmet and dives off a cliff parachuting safely to his SUV waiting at the bottom of the canyon, which he then presumably drives to work. My question: If this is a daily occurrence, how does he get home at night?
Ben Patton

By rocket belt, of course. Ever see the halftime highlights from Super Bowl I?

Dear Stump Page 2:

In a previous column, you responded to a question about a receiver in football who catches the ball so close to the sideline that he ends up hobbling on one foot for 20 yards without ever getting the second foot down. You referenced NFL spokesman Michael Signora, who said that this receiver would be considered out of bounds since the receiver must get both feet inside the lines. My follow-up question to this is: Does this policy discriminate against any possible one-legged receivers ever playing in the NFL?

Dear Stump Page 2:

Are you telling me that a one-legged person could sue the NFL for discrimination? They wouldn't be allowed to play since they could hop a kickoff back 100 yards for an apparent TD and it wouldn't count!

This is America. Anyone can sue anybody for just about anything -- for instance, an iPod owner recently sued Apple, claiming the device causes hearing loss.

(Our ruling? Turn down the volume. Case dismissed.)

That said, theoretical one-legged receivers wouldn't have to "hop" for a touchdown; instead, they could simply run on a sophisticated, football-specific prosthetic leg, as San Jose State special-teamer Neil Parry did in 2003-04.

As for NFL rules, the league likely would consider a one-legged receiver's prosthetic leg as a foot, assuming a one-legged receiver could play at the elite professional level -- which is highly unlikely, although still far more probable than "Air Bud: Golden Receiver."

Dear Stump Page 2:

Just curious, since the question about the receiver who hopped 20 yards on one foot piqued my interest. What if a receiver was flipped in the air, caught the ball with his feet, landed on his hands and hand-walked five yards into the end zone. Would this count as a touchdown?

No. But it would make said receiver the highest-paid performer in the history of Cirque du Soleil.

Dear Stump Page 2:

There are five pirates in a boat, with 100 pieces of gold to divide among them. They decide to divide the gold by the following methodology:

The smallest pirate will distribute the gold, and then each pirate will vote on the distribution. If the smallest pirate gets a clear majority (including himself) to agree on his distribution, then that is the way the gold will be divided. If not, he is thrown overboard and the next smallest pirate will re-divide the gold among the three remaining pirates. They all then vote again with the exact same conditions (acceptance requires a majority, lack of acceptance implies the pirate who divided the gold is thrown overboard and the next smallest pirate takes his place as gold distributor). Each pirate will only accept that outcome that guarantees him the most gold he will get under any scenario. No other consideration can trump that.

The question is this: How many pieces of gold can the smallest pirate keep and remain in the boat?
Name Withheld

Trick question. For one, real-life pirates are too busy chasing saucy wenches and making scalawags walk the plank to worry about game theory; more to the point, they would never agree to such a cockamamy scenario. Not when they could simply stab each other in the back. Remember: These guys are pirates. Why would they be studying for the LSAT?

Dear Stump Page 2:

In a major-league baseball game, when a catcher calls timeout and walks to the mound to discuss something with the pitcher, what happens if the batter follows the catcher to the mound to see what they are talking about?

Mike Mussina
Ted S. Warren/AP Photo
Mike Mussina probably wouldn't react well if a batter tried to get involved. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)

Let's go back to Nats catcher Matt LeCroy. Has he ever seen it happen?

"No," he said. "Sometimes you'll get a guy try to read the pitcher's lips. That's why you'll see some guys put their glove up to their mouths and talk underneath it. But sometimes you can play around with them, say 'changeup' but actually mean 'fastball.'"

So, what if a batter was bold enough to walk toward the mound?

"Well, the first thing I'd do is ask him, 'Are you crazy?'" LeCroy said. "Or ask him if he needs anything. And if he was nice enough about it, I'd probably let him in on the conversation."

Note: Other catchers, such as Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski, probably wouldn't be as charitable.

Dear Stump Page 2:

Do you think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, or was it one of those famous conspiracy theories?
Edmundo Lopez

Take away the CIA, the FBI, the Teamsters, Castro, the Mafia, Elvis, the Stonecutters, Oliver Stone, Opus Dei, a team of bulbous-eyed midgets from Area 51 and the guy who shot Tupac, and Stump Page 2 has no doubt that Oswald shot JFK entirely on his own.

Now, if you'll excuse us, we have a black helicopter to catch.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.