By Toby Hunt, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer -
There's usually a lot of talk during the baseball season about the “unwritten rules” of the game. Rules that aren't enforced by umpires or league officials, but by butt-hurt man-babies who don't think you should be dropping a bunt when your team is up by 7 runs. If you happen to break one of these “rules”, you won't be suspended, nor will you be fined. But you WILL get a stern talking to by one of the opposing team's players or coaches. Oakland's Jed Lowrie received a particularly stern talking to by Astros' manager Bo Porter after Lowrie decided to slap Bo's wife in the face. At least that's what you'd think he had done after watching Porter's reaction. No, the issue was with Lowrie bunting in the first inning after the A's had already put up a 7 spot on Houston.
“You apologize to my wife right now young man!”
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Why is that such a big deal? It's only the first inning” and you would be absolutely correct. But that's the thing, why is it such a big deal? Why are things like this such taboo in the baseball world? This is just one example of many that seem to happen every few weeks or so. Someone stares too long at a homerun ball, tempers flare, someone gets ejected, dogs and cats living together, mass-hysteria. So, why do these incidents happen with such regularity?
Now I'm no sports psychologist. Lord knows I've had my share of mental breakdowns and poo-smearing episodes. But I think a big part of this has to do with their egos. Pitchers hate it when a batter admires his homerun ball like a giant Kate Upton hologram is being projected in the outfield bleachers, just as batters hate when a closer gets overly pumped up after a big save. This isn't because those guys are breaking some long standing tradition of respect and “gentlemanly conduct”. No, they just hate the fact that someone got the best of them. Understandably, players and coaches will overreact in the heat of the moment when emotions are high. But do the benches really need to clear when Slappy McBloophit decides he wants to bunt his way on in a blowout?
“Man, I haven't had a bunt single in a while” - Erick Aybar before his at bat in the 9th inning of a 27-2 game.
I mean what's the big deal? Don't players want to succeed? Should a hitter just concede an out because his team is winning by 8 or 9 runs? Should a pitcher go shake hands with a batter after striking him out and say “You'll get me next time!”? How often do we see a basketball player dunk in some poor guy's face, then stare at him and say rude things about his momma? Or a football player basically tea-bag a quarterback after a big sack (pun intended)? And don't even get me started on touchdown celebrations. See this is why people don't respect baseball players, because you can't so much as gently pump your fist after a big play without kicking sand in somebody's vagina.
One of my favorite, and lesser-known unwritten rules, is the “Relievers take it easy on relievers” code, in which a National League reliever will pretty much throw nothing but fastballs to another reliever should they get the chance to have an at bat. Now, it's rare that you see a relief pitcher actually in the batter's box as most of them will be pinch hit for. However, should the opportunity arise, relievers apparently have a code that basically says “Ok, I know you probably haven't swung a bat in years, so here's a bunch of fastballs down the middle”. This is an attempt to not hurt his wittle feewings by blowing him away with your best stuff. Of course, this is unlikely to happen in a close game, but it's still absurd because a pitcher is basically giving a hitter the best chance to get a hit. All because it's “respectful”. These are grown men we are talking about here.
“I think every batter is a reliever.”
To many people, baseball is a game of tradition. It's a gentleman's sport and many of these “codes” exist simply to uphold those traditions. That's all well and good, but shouldn't “gentlemen” react as such when one of these rules is broken, instead of starting a fight and yelling words at each other that would make their mothers oh so proud? It's like going to a fancy dinner party with all the old rich white folk in town. You take a sip of your tea but neglect to lift your pinkie off the glass, and then all the old rich white folk start stabbing you. Can't players just get revenge the old fashioned way? By hitting a homerun in their next at bat? Or striking a batter out when you face him again? Or, if you happen to be a manager, how about having a talk with the opposing manager after the game, or even the offending player? I know managers are supposed to protect their players and all that, but storming out onto the field and scolding someone just looks stupid and sets a bad example. I guess the lesson to be learned here is never make Bo Porter mildly irritated.
Ultimately, baseball is supposed to be fun. Sure, every sport has rules and ethics that all players and coaches need to abide by. It's the same in all walks of life. But having all these “rules” that are either completely outdated, or downright absurd just dulls the game and makes it more like a friendly get-together at the local library than an actual sport. I guess bench-clearing brawls and skirmishes have their own entertainment value, but most of the time they just end with a bunch of guys standing on the field looking at each other awkwardly before being herded back to their places of respite. It slows the game down and adds nothing of value to the experience. Just go out there, have fun, and stop getting your panties in a wad.