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Sports, Entertainment, Nonsense

The Unwritten Rules of Baseball

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Published under Cameron Papp, MLB, Sports

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March 19, 2013

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During the World Baseball Classic a little over a week ago, the dumbest baseball fight of all-time took place between team Canada and team Mexico during the first round group stage. First of all, having a fight between two countries – especially two war-hungry rivals like Canada and Mexico – is just awesome. But if you were unable to see what happened, you know because it was only on MLB Network, here is what transpired:

The same Mexico team that beat team USA was getting blasted by Canada 9-3 in the 9th inning when Canada’s catcher, Chris Robinson stepped up to the plate to face Mexico’s relief pitcher, Arnold Leon. Robinson lays a bunt down the third base line which catches Mexico’s third baseman, Luis Cruz, off guard who retrieves the ball and doesn’t even bother to make a throw to first.

Visually livid, Cruz yells something to his pitcher, Leon, about facing the next batter which – to me – clearly looks like “DA LE UN GOLPE A SU PINCHE ESPALDA!.”

Ok so I asked my Spanish speaking friend how to say that. This article is brought to you by freetranslation.com. Except when you look it up there, it sounds like something out of Silence of the Lambs. Whatever, ask your Spanish speaking friend what it means.

Leon then throws two inside pitches to the next batter, Rene Tosoni, before beaming him in the back. Of course, all hell breaks loose. Benches clear, punches are thrown, water bottles flying everywhere, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

We all know why this happened right? You don’t bunt when your team is up by 5 (6? 7?) runs! Duh. You’re rubbing it in and it’s unprofessional.

Unfortunately, no one told team Mexico the rules of the tournament they were playing in. Run differential is a tie-breaker in the WBC and Canada could have very conceivably been in a three-way tie for first at the end of the group stage. So it’s perfectly reasonable for the Canadian team to try and score as many runs as they possibly can. No disrespect. No retaliation needed.

Despite this stupidity, the bunt and ensuing fight got me thinking. What are some other – almost always ridiculous – “unwritten rules” of baseball?

Let’s take a look at a few:

Beaming: This is a relevant one to start with. Pitchers get the luxury of punishing hitters for their transgressions by wailing a fastball at them when they feel wronged or disrepected. Of course, this is completely absurd for the pussy pitchers in the American League who can’t suffer from any form of retaliation due to the fact they don’t have to hit. One of the greatest beaming stories of all-time is told in Mighty Mouse Tim Kurkjin’s book, “Is This a Great Game or What?”, which took place between Wayne Gross and Ed Farmer:

‘Former reliever Ed Farmer gave up a home run one year to Wayne Gross, who, according to Farmer, disrespected him by taking far too long circling the bases. Farmer vowed to get Gross for that, but being a reliever in a different division, he didn’t face Gross again until three years later, and this time they were teammates. So, in batting practice in spring training, Farmer hit Gross in the middle of the back with a pitch.


“What was that for?” Gross yelled.
“That was for three years ago,” Farmer yelled.’

When Hit by a Pitch, Don’t Rub the Mark: You don’t want to look like a pussy. After being hit by a pitch, Pete Rose would sprint down to first as if he just a hit a ball to the gap. He didn’t want to give the pitcher any satisfactoin of making it seem as though it hurt. Show no weakness and take it like a man. Besides, there’s no crying in baseball.

Bunting During a No-hitter: I hate this one so much. Apparently, it’s disrespectful to try and get a hit by bunting while someone is raping you and your team on the pitching mound. This makes no sense to me. Especially if the game is close. If I’m getting completely dominated by a pitcher, I’m going to try and do everything in my power to get on base. Bunting is a baseball play. It’s a hit. If you’re down by 2 during a no-hitter and you bunt to get on base then the next batter jacks one over the fence, all the sudden it’s a tie ball-game. If someone has the audacity to try and break up an opposing team’s no hitter or perfect game any way that he can then so be it. What does Herm Edwards say?

Never Mention a No-hitter While it’s in Progress: One of my favorites! I’m a self-proclaimed non-jinx-aholic. I’m constantly knocking on wood. If my team wins while I’m wearing a certain jersey, I don’t wash it. Why would I? It worked the first time. Whether you’re a fan, player, coach or announcer, you’re never supposed to say the words “no-hitter” or “perfect game” while they are happening. I guess you could argue, that as a player, if you rambled on about your pitcher throwing a no-hitter, it could make him nervous and tense. But do you really think he doesn’t know already? It doesn’t make any sense. Jinxing doesn’t make sense. Playing a game with a stick and ball where a 30% hitting success rate means you’re really good doesn’t make sense.

And it’s beautiful.

Don’t Steal Signs: I don’t really get this one. It’s not illegal to steal signs in the MLB. So you would think that this means that it’s just part of the game. But players cry about it all the time. Jamie Moyer almost fought Chipper Jones over it last year. Which would have been the greatest old dude fight of all time. I guess he has a point. It doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the game. My dad will sometimes give me shit about watching soccer mainly because like every meat-eating, Budweiser-drinking American, he hates flopping. I do to. But he takes his hate to another level. He claims it’s cheating. I guess you could call it that.

But if flopping is cheating, doesn’t every athlete in every sport cheat? Did Michael Irvin cheat when he took advantage of gracious receiver rules during the ’90s by pushing off defensive backs on almost every catch during his entire career? Did Derek Jeter cheat when he pretended like he got hit by a pitch? Did Michael Jordan cheat when he pushed off Byron Russell? Hell, if flopping is cheating, the entire NBA must be full of cheaters. Stealing signs must be cheating too. The Patriots tried to do it in the NFL and were punished. If they were the Boston Red Sox they wouldn’t have been though. Because they play baseball, and in baseball, it’s just an “unwritten rule.”

Those were all off the top of my head but I’m sure there’s plenty more. Feel free to send them on.

I can’t wait for baseball.

About the Author

Cameron Papp works in marketing & communications and currently resides in San Francisco, California. When he's not writing about sports and entertainment, he likes to run, drink beer and listen to shitty 90s music. And he does this all at the same time. Originally from Cincinnati, he loves the Reds, hates Mike Brown and is slowly, sometimes achingly, adapting to living in the new sports-town USA.
  • disqus_v3AY7liy9i

    Great perspective! Of note, I dislike soccer and the NBA equally, and pretty much for the same reasons. D. (aka Cam’s dad)

    P.S. In basketball, “drawing a foul” is an integral part of the game. Think about that.

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