Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was spiked on what looked like a late slide by Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. Naturally, there was talk postgame about whether or not the Red Sox needed to throw at Machado to get even and enforce the “unwritten rules of baseball.” Boston reliever Matt Barnes must have drawn the short straw, because he buzzed Machado’s tower, then was ejected and handed a four-game suspension.
The unwritten rules of baseball have dictated how players play the game to show “respect for the game” for decades. Some of these “rules” make sense, like don’t steal bases with a big lead, don’t show up your fielders and let the center fielder make the play. Of course, others feel more outdated, like don’t have a power hitter bunt, don’t admire a home run (more on that another day) and if your teammate gets hit, then you hit an opponent.
A variation of that last one has been on display this last week with the Red Sox and Orioles. Quite honestly, I don’t think this should still be a thing in 2017. I understand the intentions behind the move: Send a message that you’re going to stand behind your teammate and you’re not about to take any crap from anybody. The message is fine, because I’m all about standing behind your teammates. But it shouldn’t hurt the team. You don’t send a message by putting a guy on base when that’s the exact goal he’s trying to achieve.
I’m also of the opinion that if you really want to get a guy back for a dirty play, get him out. In fact, strike him out. Don’t even give him a chance to get on the bases and do it again. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to be doing anyway?
There is one more rule I’d like to briefly mention while we’re on pitching and unwritten rules: Never talk about a no-hitter in progress. As superstitious as baseball players are, this “rule” will live forever with the likes of never stepping on the foul line while leaving or entering the field. Nothing will kill a no-no or perfect game faster than talking about it, because it gets the pitcher thinking about it. Catcher Crash Davis, in his infinite wisdom, tells pitcher Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham, “Don’t think, it can only hurt the ball club.” And why would you ever want to do anything that would hurt the ball club?
Photo by Brigham Berthold