The fans were frustrated. Their second baseman was mired in a deep slump, and they faced elimination at the hands of their most bitter rivals. Everyone wanted to send the second baseman to the bench. Everyone, that is, except the manager. And then in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, Mark Bellhorn drilled a shot just over the left field fence for a three-run home run that guaranteed a Game 7. The following night he hit another home run, this one providing the insurance for the Boston Red Sox to finish one of the greatest comebacks in the history of team sports. Bellhorn's stats for the series: A paltry .192 batting average. Five hits. Two home runs. Four RBIs.

Sometimes an average doesn't tell you everything. At Motley Fool Rule Breakers, we've been telling our subscribers that the returns on great stocks might often trail the market for short periods of time. We have patiently watched several of our picks trail the S&P 500 since we launched our service last fall. All the while, we remained confident that the market would one day wake up and recognize the excellence of some of our recommendations.

And today the market woke up and deemed Rule Breakers selection Archipelago Holdings (NYSE:AX) an attractive stock to own -- its shares are up 53% since the opening bell. Yesterday, New York Stock Exchange Chairman John Thain announced the merger of the 212-year-old stock exchange with Archipelago, our February newsletter recommendation. The $400 million deal will have gargantuan implications for the NYSE and, of course, for Archipelago shareholders. After watching Archipelago struggle for several months, I now know what my grandfather meant when he used to say, "Patience is a virtue."

Blueprint for success
Archipelago Holdings is the parent of ArcaEx, a fully electronic stock market trading exchange that has become a successful competitor by using the Internet as a trading platform. As David Gardner, Motley Fool co-founder and lead analyst for Rule Breakers, pointed out back in February, "everything you ever thought about how the Internet can reduce costs, cut out the middlemen, increase transparency, increase profits, etc., when applied to the stock market is true of Archipelago."

Our analysts are obviously excited by the deal between NYSE and Archipelago, and we are closely monitoring events on behalf of our Rule Breakers community. Some of the questions we're attempting to answer include:

  • What does the deal mean and why did it happen?
  • What are the implications for current Archipelago shareholders?
  • What should investors do with their position now?

Our initial view is that the deal is positive for both companies. It lets the NYSE put one foot firmly in the electronic world, while retaining its trading floor and specialist system. It gives the combined entity a public listing and a clear for-profit mission. The deal also offers some new possibilities for both entities. Up until it acquired the Pacific Exchange earlier this year, Archipelago had been a conduit for trading equities listed on other exchanges. But under the combined company, ArcaEx will become a bona fide competitor to Nasdaq, allowing companies that don't meet NYSE listing requirements an alternative to a Nasdaq listing. This, in addition to trading corporate bonds, options, ETFs, fixed income securities, and so on, will give the NYSE growth opportunities it previously did not have as one of the world's largest and most established companies.

You got any more of those?
The recent Archipelago events illustrate several lessons about our Rule Breaking investment strategy. Just yesterday, our scorecard had Archipelago trailing the S&P 500 by 14.71%. Today, Archipelago is beating the index by 41% since we first recommended it in February. It seems that the market has a difficult time valuing innovation and vision. Perhaps more importantly, Rule Breaking investing is a volatile pursuit that exposes investors to considerable risk. But those willing to take on this risk can be rewarded overnight -- literally overnight, in this case.

When investing in biotechnology, nanotechnology, or other revolutionary sectors, it makes little sense to check your returns vs. the market each day. We provide a scorecard to hold ourselves accountable. But ultimately we are looking for great companies first. We suspect that the returns will take care of themselves.

I reckon that there are quite a few other Rule Breakers picks out there that are poised to take off. Fellow Fool Rick Munarriz wrote of two such companies earlier this week. One of those companies, Blue Nile (NASDAQ:NILE) is a high-end provider of engagement rings. The company is profitable, sales are growing by more than 20%, and yet the stock is down by 13% since David Gardner selected it last October. Rick identified Shanda Interactive (NASDAQ:SNDA) as another possible breakout selection. Shanda, the market leader in online gaming in China, has huge profit margins and enormous growth potential. And yet the stock is off 20% since David recommended it. Would you be selling Shanda or would you be opening another position at a 20% discount?

Get your bat and step up to the plate
In addition to our existing 16 picks, we select two companies each month as official Rule Breakers recommendations. Why not take a look at all 16 companies and read a detailed analysis on why each is considered one of the great businesses of the next generation? Just sign up for a 30-day free trial. You are under no obligation, and if you don't agree with our line of thinking, just tell us "thanks, but no thanks."

In addition to our official picks, we're putting together a list of approximately 250 companies that might be chosen in the future. Among the companies we're examining are well-known firms such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Marvel (NYSE:MVL) as well as lesser-known ones such as Northfield Labs (NASDAQ:NFLD) and Infospace (NASDAQ:INSP). Our team of six analysts works together with our community of investors to examine these and other companies in our ongoing quest for excellence. We're always looking for another bat in the lineup, so why not come and join us?

John Reeves owns shares in Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .