But what I really want to know is: Why is it always three strikes and you're out? Why isn't it ever two or four? Does it really make sense to base a whole law-enforcement philosophy on the rules of an athletic contest?
In 1887 baseball experimented with requiring four strikes for a strikeout. What if that had stuck? First of all, that song would be harder to sing -- "for it's one, two-three, four strikes you're out ..."
But more important, would law-and-order types be a third more lenient toward repeat offenders? Would our national sense of the proper blend of punishment and second chances be governed by the saying "four strikes and you're out"?
What if track were the national pastime? Would states be passing "two false starts and you're disqualified" laws that locked up second offenders for life? Or if football had developed earlier and become the American game a century before it did, would legislatures have debated "four downs and you're punted" bills?—King Kaufman, Salon