Unwritten rules are a part of baseball. They have been since the very first game played and recently there has been a lot of talk about these unwritten rules. Now I will be the first to say, superstitions, in my opinion, aren’t unwritten rules. Baseball players are very superstitious creatures, so when your teammate is pitching a no hitter, you better stay the hell away from him and not even mention that he has one going. Also, don’t step on the foul line when you come onto the field. That foul line has powers that some may never understand.
But we’re going to talk about the 5 dumbest unwritten rules in baseball. Some rules not included will be bunting to break up a no-hitter. I think that’s totally bush league and should be avoided, however bunting will be talked about. Also, pitchers definitely shouldn’t get mad when the defense makes errors. Errors are a part of the game, and throwing a hissy fit because your center fielder just bobbled the ball only makes matters worse. So with that, here are baseball’s 5 dumbest unwritten rules.
Don’t Swing on 3-0 Counts
Let’s start with the one that’s fresh in all of our minds. In a game against the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres’ shortstop (and the future of baseball) Fernando Tatis Jr. worked a 3-0 count. Ranger’s pitcher Juan Nicasio had just walked two batters and gone to a 3-0 count on three straight batters before Tatis stepped in with the bases juiced. Falling behind 3-0 for the fourth straight batter, Nicasio’s pitch was right in Tatis Jr’s wheelhouse, and Tatis smoked the ball over the right-center field wall for a grand slam. That was Tatis Jr’s 11th home run, and also the bomb that passed Mike Trout atop the HR leaderboards at that time.
Ranger’s manager Chris Woodward was not pleased, saying he didn’t like the home run, and Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler didn’t even stick up for his player. Tingler really went up there and said “It’s a learning opportunity and that’s it”. Why?! Why is it a learning opportunity?! The reason I hate this unwritten rule is because it pretty much admits defeat for the opposing team. Just last season the Padres themselves were down 11-4 to the Rockies in the top of the eighth. THEY CAME BACK AND WON! They beat the Rockies 16-12 in extra innings. No lead is safe and if you play or watch baseball you know that is true. There is no clock in baseball. Your team is down 7 runs Woodward. You complaining about Tatis Jr. hitting that home run all but admits that you had no faith that your team will come back.
If you’re a pitcher, and you fall behind 3-0 and give the batter a lollipop, you can’t get mad if he rips that across the wall, no matter what the score is. Try to work the corners, try to get him to chase, do something other than lobbing a fastball over the heart of the plate. Would you rather give up a walk, or a home run? This rule is a “don’t run up the score” rule, but as I said before, no lead is safe, and I don’t care if my team is down 3, 7, or 15. You pitch every batter tough and as a batter you make every at-bat tough for the opposing pitcher.
Don’t Steal A Base If Up Big or Down Big
This ties in with the 3-0 count unwritten rule. Pretty much, if your team is blowing the other team out, or if you yourself are getting blown out, you’re not supposed to steal bases. Once again, NO. LEAD. IS. SAFE! What’s the point of even playing anymore? If you’re blowing out your opponent, MLB should just implement a mercy rule that way nobody gets their feelings hurt! It just makes no sense. So if the Yankees are blowing out the Red Sox, the Yankees can’t do anything to protect their lead, but the Red Sox get to do whatever they want to try to come back? Do you see how dumb that sounds?
Back in 2010, Nyjer Morgan had gotten into some hot water with the unwritten rule police in a game against the Marlins. Morgan had collided with Marlins catcher Brett Hayes the night before and separated Hayes’ shoulder. The next day, Morgan was drilled by Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad. Morgan went on to steal second and third even though the Nationals were down 14-3. If you know baseball, you know Nyjer Morgan was….different. But people really took offense to the fact that he stole two bases and scored on a sac fly. Chris Volstad even threw behind Morgan on his next AB.
Ricky Henderson stole over 1,400 bases over an incredible 25 year career. Are you going to tell me that not a single one of those 1,406 stolen bases came when one of the 9 teams he played for was up big? It just screams that one of the teams has given up. If you have a man on base and you know he’s fast, why would you just assume he’s not going to steal a base because the team is getting blown out? Until that umpire calls the last out of the ballgame, all players should play the same way, no matter what the score is.
Home Run Etiquette
This section comes with some caveats in my opinion. If you’re team is down by 10 runs and you hit a home run, don’t be an idiot and flip your bat and go crazy running the bases. This isn’t me being a hypocrite either. You’re not admitting defeat by not flipping your bat after you hit a home run that means nothing. Use that as motivation to get your team to mount a comeback, but don’t show up the pitcher when he’s been mowing you down all game.
Now, there are exceptions in my opinion. If you’ve been slumping and haven hit a home run in 4 seasons and you finally get one, go ahead big fella, admire that ball. Some baseball purists will say it’s wrong to admire a home run in the middle of a season, but I beg to differ. Hitting a home run to win a game, or to tie the game up is a wonderful feeling no matter if it’s game 1 or game 100. Too many people think baseball is boring and has no personality mainly because some players are so afraid of breaking these unwritten rules.
Do you remember the Joey Bats bat flip? The deciding Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS with Bautista’s Blue Jays taking on the Texas Rangers? First of all, it’s one of the few games that I will remember as a baseball fan for the rest of my life. After three straight errors by the Rangers helped the Blue Jays tie the game up at 3, with two men on, Jose Bautista absolutely crushed a ball to give the Jays the 6-3 lead. Bautista then gave us one of the best, emotional bat flips in baseball history. Even as a Yankee fan I was pumped. Bautista caught some flack for it, but how can you be mad at the guy? All the emotion in that game and all the tension that was brewing between the Jays and Rangers made that home run feel phenomenal.
Nothing screams let the kids play more than bat flips and admiring home runs. As I said, I do believe there are limits and times where it shouldn’t happen. But a game winner, or a big home run late? Let the man show his emotion! Just don’t spend 7 minutes staring at the ball while standing in front of the catcher…you will get beaned.
Bunting Against the Shift
I will never understand why this is an unwritten rule. So you’re telling me that the defense can move 7 guys all to one side of the field, and the batter can’t take advantage of that? Are they not both good strategy? But that ties into the bunting aspect. What’s the one way to beat the shift? Hit the ball the other way! Hit the ball where the defense isn’t. How many times have we seen guys like Anthony Rizzo or David Ortiz back in the day come to the plate, and all you see is grass on the entire left side? Take advantage of it!
I’ve said this before in this article, but if one team can do something legal to give them the advantage, why can’t the other team do something legal to combat that advantage? Years ago when Robinson Cano was still a Yankee, he bunted against the shift and turned it into a double! This section is going to be short, because I feel there aren’t many baseball fans left that still believe this is a bush league move. It all comes down to strategy. If the defense makes a strategic move, the batter should also make strategic adjustments and not catch any heat because of it.
Don’t Swing At The First Pitch After Back-to-Back Home Runs
Another rule that makes zero sense. So you’re telling me that if my teammates just went back-to-back, I’m just supposed to sit there and let the pitcher throw one right down the middle? Why? If that pitcher who just gave up two bombs is dumb enough to just lay one in there, you should totally take that ball and send it to the moon!
Former infielder Hal McRae was quoted as saying “Someone would pull you to the side and say, ‘Look, there have been two consecutive home runs hit. The third batter doesn’t swing at the first pitch.’ Take the first pitch. Alert the pitcher that you’re not swinging, that you know he’s out there, you respect him and you respect the job that he’s trying to do.” I’m sorry, but that just sounds like you don’t want to hurt the pitchers feelings because pitching is hard and you understand that. Yeah, pitching is hard. You know what else is hard? Seeing a ball go right down the middle of the plate and having to stand there when you know you can send it into oblivion.
I’m sorry, these rules of “don’t run up the score” are mind boggling to me. 27 outs. Unless there are extra innings, a baseball game is 27 outs. It can take 2 1/2 hours to get all 27, or it can take 4 hours. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, what matters is getting those 27 outs, and facing every situation as if the game is on the line. We’ve seen teams collapse and forfeit a huge lead late in the game. We’ve seen one home run be a catalyst for a huge comeback.
Just look at the 2004 ALCS. As much as it pains me to bring this up, the Yankees had a 3 games to 0 lead over the Boston Red Sox. Everybody was calling the series over. Nobody expected the Red Sox to do what no other team had done (or has to this point) and come back to win the series. Nobody, except the Red Sox. The Sox won 4 games in a row and completed one of the greatest comebacks in postseason baseball history. I understand it’s a full series and not a single game. But what if they had the attitude of “well guys, it’s over”? We would’ve been robbed of one of the most historical moments in baseball history.
To quote one of the many Yogi-isms, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”.
Featured Image: ESPN
Would you like to advertise with Game Changer Sports Network? We have the perfect opportunity for any and all businesses please contact Jake at Info@GameChangerSportsNetwork.com to discuss potential advertising space with us!