Could this be an error?

Any Playing Field constructed by a professional club after June 1, 1958, shall provide a minimum distance of 325 feet from home base to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction on the right and left field foul lines, and a minimum distance of 400 feet to the center field fence.

How does a ballpark "provide" a distance? A restaurant could provide some service. A person could provide supplies. But the mentioned "distance" is an intrinsic property of a baseball park, and cannot be given away. Would replacing "provide" with "have" be better?

  • provide sense 4 - "to state as a condition; stipulate" – user3169 May 26 '14 at 4:00
  • @user3169 But a baseball park is not a contract. The definition you found seems to work for contracts only. – meatie May 26 '14 at 5:43
  • I read this as something that is assessed in the planning phase. Before construction is started it must be verified that the plan/future playing field provides the minimum required geometry. I don't see anything wrong with their wording. – Jim May 26 '14 at 6:01
  • @meatie, the regulations for a regulation baseball park -- which is what you are reading -- most definitely are a contract. MLB is very, very big business, and those are part of the terms of (dare I say it) playing ball in that league. – Codeswitcher May 26 '14 at 6:14
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    @Codeswitcher It's not a particularly graceful way of saying it, but I think "error" is too strong. The Playing Field may be said to "provide"="furnish" the players a specified area of play, just as it "provides" them a pitching mound and dugouts and benches and bullpens. – StoneyB on hiatus May 26 '14 at 12:58

@meatie, you are correct. However, there are two Englishes. One is the one we speak and one is the one that has been defined by laws and court cases. Sometimes the English used by law does not make sense by how we speak, but does actually make sense by the definitions that the courts have set forth. You can usually find the legal definitions of words in legal dictionaries (Black's Law Dictionary is a popular one, and in older editions included citations of which cases helped define the word).

Saying that, provide is a bad word to use at this point. You are correct in that "providing" happens when one entity instigates an action which causes another entity to receive a condition or object (more or less). So, while an inanimate object can, in fact, "provide" (think of a baby blanket providing security, an xbox providing entertainment, or a football field providing exercise), in this context, and in plain English, a football field cannot provide a distance. It can contain, have, or be.

Again, I qualify that with the fact that this is not written in English, but in legalese, so the use of the word "provide" may be correct.

I checked the definition in Black's Law Dictionary (4th edition, I believe they are up to 9 now?), on page 1388, and even in legalese it doesn't make sense (4th edition, remember). The danger of a contract where people have to start looking up why a word was used because it doesn't fit is that it can be open to interpretation and can give someone standing to fight the contract because of the inappropriate use of the wording.

*I'm not a lawyer. Just someone who hates bad English.

**Black's 4th: http://livingfreeandclear.com/downloads/files/Black'sLaw4th.pdf

  • +1. A better way to word the sentence might have been "On any playing field constructed after June 1, 1958, there shall be a distance of at least 325 feet from home base to the nearest..." – tsleyson Jun 29 '14 at 3:25

It is clear that the stipulations of Rule 1.04 pertain to potential Playing Fields. These can be either (a) unconstructed ones or (b) to-be-remodeled ones. In neither case is minimum outfield distance an intrinsic quality. These distances are a potential quality.

Still, if you want to apply Rule 1.04 to constructed ballparks, it is no stretch of the English language to say, simply, that the Playing Field provides ("makes available for use, supplies, offers for utilization") minimum outfield distances, even if said distances are now "intrinsic qualities."

Cannot Inanimate Objects (especially those that come so vibrantly alive as the Playing Field in a Ballpark or--to grab a random example--a meeting room in an upscale Hotel) provide or offer its facilities, including its inherent measurements?

Else, how is it that the Loews Annapolis Hotel not only has a variety of Luxury Suites and meeting rooms, but also offers them (emhasis mine)?

To me, it is simple English. Provide can mean "make available for use, furnish, supply, offer for utilization."

One might ask, to who(m) does the Playing Field offer or provide its minimum outfield dimensions? I must digress and say Who's on first?, but seriously, A Playing Field offers and provides its inherent measurements to all involved, the players, the umpires, the fans, the vendors, et al. Else, what is the point of MLB providing Rule 1.04, let alone a Rulebook?

Thus, I would say, "have" would not be better.

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