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Game Thread: Twins vs. White Sox 4:40 PM PST (6:40PM CST)

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Magic Number Thread

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"Unwritten Rule" Gets Max Kepler Hit By A Pitch

If you didn’t stay up last night to watch the ninth inning of the Twins blowout 13-6 win over the Texas Rangers (hey, we’re not judging), you missed a little in-game drama. Jake Cave hit a 3-0 pitch for a single, violating an unwritten rule in a blowout win, and teammate Max Kepler paid the price. Tom Froemming documented the video and radio calls of the play for us on Twitter:
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports


It’s an interesting sequence. As color commentator Roy Smalley noted, there is no way Twins manager Rocco Baldelli gave Cave the green light on that pitch. It looks like first base coach Tommy Watkins said something to Cave when he reached first base, and Cave immediately seems to gesture towards the pitcher that he is sorry, and made a mistake.

The Rangers pitcher (to his credit, I suppose?) threw the pitch at rib level at Kepler, but it was a 93 mph fastball. Hopefully this act of vengeance puts an end to any ill-will regarding Cave’s brain cramp. (And I hope Cave bought Kepler a big steak, possibly to soak on top of the bruise.)

I’d sure love to hear what everyone thinks of the unwritten rule, and the apparent retaliation. Would your opinion be any different if a Twins pitcher was the retaliating pitcher?

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93 Comments

I'm sorry, but that should have ended with Cave's acknowledgement of what he did when he reached first base, and what looked like his apology to the pitcher. The issue should have been done with at that point and no way the pitcher should have retaliated as he did, because Cave basically admitted right then and there he was wrong. Unwritten rule or not, as soon as Cave acknowledged it, it was done. Thankfully the pitch was controlled enough to not hit Kepler in the wrist or the head.

    • glunn, diehardtwinsfan, Mike Frasier Law and 17 others like this

The pitcher should have been ejected. You can't just assault somebody because they hurt your pride. Grow up.

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, birdwatcher and 35 others like this
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twinbythebay
Aug 16 2019 12:56 PM

Why should this be considered a "brain cramp" by Cave? Should guys be expected to stand up there in a blowout and just leave the bat on their shoulder?

 

Especially for a guy like Cave, who's a young player fighting for more playing time, these guys should be up there battling in every at-bat. It's ridiculous that he feels the need to apologize, and it's even more ridiculous that the pitcher still felt the need to drill Kepler. I also hope the Twins don't let this stupid crap escalate any further; make them pay on the scoreboard. Intentional beanballs are for childish losers.

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, birdwatcher and 27 others like this
You should never be sorry to make contact with the ball during a game.
    • SQUIRREL, glunn, birdwatcher and 23 others like this
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Don Walcott
Aug 16 2019 12:59 PM

I don't even understand this unwritten rule. Isn't Cave entitled to try for a hit? Should we treat the opposition as anything less than professionals, being paid to do their jobs? So Cave is expected to let a pitcher groove a fastball down the middle? Where does the unwritten rule end? How many runs do you have to be behind at what point in the game? Are we entitled to retaliate now? Do we throw at one of the Rangers' best hitters for no reason?

 

If only we had Mollie or Dozier to educate our young players . . . .

 

IMO, it's not okay to throw at anyone there, especially someone who has nothing to do with breaking unwritten rules. But I don't even think it would have been okay to throw at Cave, had he scorched that ball foul on 3-0. Be a professional, and go out and beat the other team with your ability. The best revenge is a life lived well, or something like that . . . .

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, Mike Frasier Law and 7 others like this
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Andrew Thares
Aug 16 2019 12:59 PM

I have no issue with what Cave did. The balance of the game might not be at stake, but the balance of Jake Cave's career is very much at stake in every plate appearance. Last time I checked, pitchers don't just start lobbing the ball over the plate when the game is out of hand, so why should we expect hitters to take the at-bat off?

 

The only person at fault here is the Rangers pitcher, if he was indeed intentionally throwing at Kepler.

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, birdwatcher and 15 others like this
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Comrade Bork
Aug 16 2019 12:59 PM
Cave shouldn't even feel bad. These grown athletes act like school kids. You play to win the game.

Cave is a fringe player and needs all the stat boosts he can get in order to secure a larger pay day. Cave is just practicing capitalism.
    • SQUIRREL, glunn, birdwatcher and 3 others like this
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Comrade Bork
Aug 16 2019 12:59 PM
Now you've got two guys on base in what is already a blow out. That pitcher sure showed us.

Kep is a boss.
    • SQUIRREL, Steve Lein, birdwatcher and 3 others like this
I honestly have never heard of this "unwritten rule," therefore, I dont actually think it is one, which makes this even weirder.

Why would I let a grooved pitch go in this situation? A walk does nothing at that point. If you dont want me to swing, then purposefully walk me.
    • SQUIRREL, glunn, birdwatcher and 6 others like this

Gee Mr. Pitcher, I'm sorry. I got so excited to actually see a strike I swung and got a base hit off of you. So, at how many runs up does this "rule" kick in? You're supposed to try to win but not by too much, is that it? So the payback for this infraction is you get to drill the next batter. Really? Great, lets risk an injury because someone's pride gets hurt? I think its BS.

    • SQUIRREL, h2oface, dgwills and 4 others like this
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woolywoolhouse
Aug 16 2019 01:09 PM

The reason this is an unwritten rule is because if you wrote it down, the majority of people would read it and proclaim it a stupid rule. Don't want to give up a hit? Don't throw a hittable pitch. 

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, Riverbrian and 13 others like this
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Thebigalguy
Aug 16 2019 01:11 PM
I love MLB, but not the pea brains that some big leaguers bring to the game. The pitcher should be thankful Cave swung; it could just as easily have been an out. Interesting he didn’t hit the K-Man until it was 3-0, unless that too was intentional. Too many athletes are too seldom disciplined for their immaturity and ethical failures.
    • glunn, Madisonsdad, h2oface and 1 other like this
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twinsfanstreif
Aug 16 2019 01:14 PM
I'm not an expert on unwritten rules as I only played one season of little league but that has to be among the stupidest of them all. A batter's job is to hit the ball and a pitcher is supposed to get them out. The Rangers should be fined for that BS
    • SQUIRREL, glunn, Mike Frasier Law and 4 others like this

unwritten rules are stupid, period...

    • brvama, Riverbrian, h2oface and 2 others like this

Whether you agree with certain unwritten rules or not, and whether those rules are followed "correctly" during certain circumstances, a pitcher should always be fined for throwing at a hitter on purpose. 

 

If the pitcher does not agree with the fine, then they should have an opportunity to appeal it. However, most of these situations are pretty obvious. 

 

*If a player is plunked with off-speed stuff, they were not hit on purpose!*

    • Mike Frasier Law, brvama, Dantes929 and 3 others like this

As noted in the game thread, this unwritten rule is derived from a bunch of highly competitive professionals who do this over the course of six month and in many cases have to play each other again the next day/week/month. It's a little professional courtesy of "don't pile on when the game is out of reach" combined with "let's all get through this one without anyone getting hurt". And in baseball (as with many sports), the players/managers have assumed the duty of enforcing these unwritten rules on the field (and one of the reasons for that was so that things stayed on the field).

 

If you think this is all stupid, you are entitled to your opinion. As with all unwritten rules, they do tend to evolve and change over the years (and new ones will be created) as player's attitudes about the game change. For example, players fraternizing with each other from different teams used to be a non-starter (and at one point crossed from unwritten rule to written rule) and it's completely gone away.

 

Attitudes towards sportsmanship in this country are changing and evolving and that impacts how people perceive this. there are people who think the concept of sportsmanship is entirely outdated as it applies to professional athletics, because of the professional nature of the game. YMMV on whether that's true or not, or good or not.

 

There are others who look at baseball's traditions as a way to preserve a cherished view of the past, where the things they liked about baseball's "glory years" are celebrated, including things like unwritten rules, while other aspects are ignored or discarded (racism, drug use, etc.).

 

I will say some of the comps people have been providing from other sports are a little silly: being up by 8 in the 9th is NOT the equivalent to being up by 10 with 2 minutes left in a basketball game...even in today's homer-happy era.

 

Part of me likes baseball's unwritten rules because they are often a little dumb. Keeping the sport a little weirder, a little goofy and so on isn't always a bad thing.

 

 

    • glunn, Han Joelo, goulik and 1 other like this

As much as I love baseball is equal to the amount I hate baseballs unwritten rules. I disagree entirely with the notion that Jake Cave owes anyone anything. He is a hitter and he got a hit, if you don't like throw better pitches.

 

I don't believe in throwing at players in any circumstance, it's dangerous and childish. That said I hope the Twins throw inside a lot more than necessary tonight and then throw down a bunt single followed by a steal when they're up by 10.

    • brvama, Madisonsdad, h2oface and 1 other like this

 

As noted in the game thread, this unwritten rule is derived from a bunch of highly competitive professionals who do this over the course of six month and in many cases have to play each other again the next day/week/month. It's a little professional courtesy of "don't pile on when the game is out of reach" combined with "let's all get through this one without anyone getting hurt". And in baseball (as with many sports), the players/managers have assumed the duty of enforcing these unwritten rules on the field (and one of the reasons for that was so that things stayed on the field).

 

If you think this is all stupid, you are entitled to your opinion. As with all unwritten rules, they do tend to evolve and change over the years (and new ones will be created) as player's attitudes about the game change. For example, players fraternizing with each other from different teams used to be a non-starter (and at one point crossed from unwritten rule to written rule) and it's completely gone away.

 

Attitudes towards sportsmanship in this country are changing and evolving and that impacts how people perceive this. there are people who think the concept of sportsmanship is entirely outdated as it applies to professional athletics, because of the professional nature of the game. YMMV on whether that's true or not, or good or not.

 

There are others who look at baseball's traditions as a way to preserve a cherished view of the past, where the things they liked about baseball's "glory years" are celebrated, including things like unwritten rules, while other aspects are ignored or discarded (racism, drug use, etc.).

 

I will say some of the comps people have been providing from other sports are a little silly: being up by 8 in the 9th is NOT the equivalent to being up by 10 with 2 minutes left in a basketball game...even in today's homer-happy era.

 

Part of me likes baseball's unwritten rules because they are often a little dumb. Keeping the sport a little weirder, a little goofy and so on isn't always a bad thing.

I don't disagree with much of this, in theory. However, unwritten rule or not, Cave acknowledged it and apologized BEFORE Kepler even came to bat. So, if it were an unwritten rule, and it seemed it was, as Watkins seemed to be telling Cave that, and Cave had already taken responsibility for his 'grievous' behavior, that should have been the end of it. To then throw at the next batter after Cave already tipped his hat in compliance with said unwritten rule, was uncalled for. There was no reason, imo, to retaliate. Honestly, I don't like to see anyone being thrown at because a bad throw can truly injure a player, however, in this case, there seemed to be no reason for it even if you put stock in the unwritten rules. 

    • glunn, Madisonsdad, adjacent and 2 others like this
The pitcher should be fined and suspended. What an immature person. Until the game is over, it isn't over.
    • SQUIRREL, glunn, Mike Frasier Law and 10 others like this

If the pitcher admitted it I would say throwing a ball at someone at 93 mph should result in assault charges.Only slightly kidding here.At a minimum the pitcher should have been kicked out of the game.No, my opinion wouldn't change at all if it were a Twins pitcher.Being mad at someone for swinging at a 3-0 is so asinine it is mind boggling.Not quite as ridiculous as CC throwing at someone cuz they try bunting for a base hit but it is in the same ballpark.I don't think too many people agreed with Dozier in some of his rants in the past about unwritten rules.  https://www.espn.com...-brilliant-same

    • h2oface and Dman like this

IMO showing up another team would be Cave getting said hit and then attempting to steal 2nd base or if you try to stretch it into a double.In the end your job is to get on base if you are Cave especially when you are trying to stay at the big league level.Obviously the issue in the 'unwritten rule' is the run differential and the count...if it were 3-2 and he grooves a fastball you swing!As a huge baseball fan I just don't get it why a team should take offense to a guy swinging 3-0 in this situation.Yes it is a 7 run lead but guess what...you had 8 innings to do something about it prior to him swinging at a 3-0 pitch.That is one part of the game that needs to get over itself.WIN TWINS!

    • Mike Frasier Law, Madisonsdad and h2oface like this
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Nick Nelson
Aug 16 2019 01:51 PM

Complete embarrassment for Rangers. This is the dumbest notion of an "unwritten rule" I've ever seen on a baseball field. It's less insulting to sit there with the bat on your shoulder while the pitcher continues to miss the zone with an 8-run deficit? 

    • SQUIRREL, Steve Lein, glunn and 11 others like this

I commented on the game thread so won;t repeat. I will say I think it should have ended when Cave acknowledged his mistake at first base -he was either unaware of the rule or didn't realize the count?CJ Nitkowski on a radio show here in Dallas mentioned today, the Rangers were still shifting on Cave - so he has no problem with Cave swinging on the 3-0 pitch. If they are still playing full force why can't both teams? I mean otherwise just have a slaughter rule and call the game. No one is backing that Kepler should have been hit except Kelley.Hope he pitches again in the series and Kepler takes him deep.  

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, h2oface and 2 others like this

 

re: "there are people who think the concept of sportsmanship is entirely outdated"

 

Since when is responding with violence to an unknowing violation of some obscure, dubious etiquette rule "sportsmanship"?

 

True sportsmanship would involve experienced players explaining to their younger teammates how to show respect for their opponents, and if a rookie unintentionally offended someone, having them apologize. Which is exactly what the Twins did.

 

Sportsmanship is not angrily trying to impose your will on others through violence and intimidation, especially if they meant no harm and/or did nothing wrong.

    • glunn, brvama, Madisonsdad and 4 others like this

 

I don't disagree with much of this, in theory. However, unwritten rule or not, Cave acknowledged it and apologized BEFORE Kepler even came to bat. So, if it were an unwritten rule, and it seemed it was, as Watkins seemed to be telling Cave that, and Cave had already taken responsibility for his 'grievous' behavior, that should have been the end of it. To then throw at the next batter after Cave already tipped his hat in compliance with said unwritten rule, was uncalled for. There was no reason, imo, to retaliate. Honestly, I don't like to see anyone being thrown at because a bad throw can truly injure a player, however, in this case, there seemed to be no reason for it even if you put stock in the unwritten rules. 

 

Yep. The pitcher is kind of a dumbass here, because you can't demand fidelity to unwritten rules if you ignore them yourself and the whole "hat tip" apology is one of the oldest ones out there.

 

And of course, traditionally when enforcing an unwritten rule against a teammate of the rule-breaker the pitcher never would throw their best fastball, nor would it ever get near the head. Nor do you wait multiple pitches to do it...are we sure this pitcher doesn't just suck? :P

    • SQUIRREL, glunn, Cap'n Piranha and 2 others like this

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