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Baseball’s Unwritten Rules Are Hurting the Game


Typically, when a manager, boss, leader, or heck any stakeholder wants something to happen a certain way, he or she communicates that in advance.  Otherwise -- shocker -- it never unfolds that way.

LaRussa can get blue in the face all he wants.  Neither he nor any player in the dugout communicated to this player what the plan was.

Rules, laws, norms, mores, whatever you want to call them, need to be communicated, whether the "rules" are written or unwritten.  Especially so in a dugout, where the players have vastly different experiences, histories, and viewpoints.

I don't blame this kid for not getting the memo that was never sent.  We all know what people say about the word "assume."

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Doesn’t all human behavior have a scad of unwritten rules? And if we eliminated them would society be better and/or function more smoothly? Sure, refine them as necessary but getting rid of them entirely does not seem plausible. As people go, so baseball goes.

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Arbitration is still a thing, right? Stats drive contracts. More HRs equal more money. How are we even talking about this? I understand the issue with ignoring the take sign, but since when do we have press conferences about individual players mistakes? I thought the "Old School" manager was supposed to protect his players and handle the issues behind closed doors. What a joke.

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13 hours ago, Longdistancetwins said:

Yeah, I heard that, too.  I was pretty shocked they actually had that as a statistic!

Good for Mercedes...bout time someone manned up and swung and a meatball.

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18 hours ago, Unwinder said:

I'd be pretty interested in seeing a poll by age about this unwritten rules scenario. My guess is that older fans tend to value these norms more than younger fans do. To me, the idea that Mercedes was in the wrong for swinging is so weird that it might as well have come from another planet.

Older folks follow most rules more than younger people do. just look at who wears masks when they are supposed to vs not, etc., etc. As for the Mercedes incident, he should be fined by his team for not obeying the sign and shout from his coach and manager. Otherwise, anything goes. So what is worse, the fact that someone hits a 3-0 pitch for a homer off a position player, the fact that someone tries to beat out a bunt in the ninth inning of a no-hitter, the fact that someone steal a base when his team is winning a blowout or something else? Play the game and stop complaining. And I'm an old person (by comparison) and have played ball all my life. 

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3 hours ago, TheLeviathan said:

A few things stand out to me:

1. The first affront to the game of baseball was putting Austidillo on the mound.  I can't think of a more "defiling" act towards professional baseball than some catcher throwing 40 mph "heaters" in a professional game.  Hockey teams don't put their wings in at goalie.  Football teams don't play their third QB at safety.  Basketball teams don't play their equipment guy at center. It seems odd to me that we're aghast that a professional hitter took a professional swing in a professional game and not what the Twins did on the mound.  This kind of mind-numbing logic is the root of unwritten rules.

2.  What do you want hitters facing guys like Austidillo to do?  Stand there and get walked?  Stand there and take strikes?  I'm sure that will help the ol' pace of play.

3.  I'm going to let Lisa Simpson handle the "but it stopz so much stuffz from happening" argument.

4.  I've never understood why "old school" and "integrity" and other words are so tightly associated with a vague, randomly enforced set of rules designed to cover a bunch of butthurt cry baby professionals who complain mostly because they're getting beat.  If you don't like things happening......stop them.   What's more old school than that?  

5.  I commend the NHL and NBA for their steps to stop player policing.  (The NFL is a sport that basically requires you to play people correctly or risk serious injury) They haven't fixed all their problems, but both their sports are better for it and continue to improve because of it.  Don't worry, baseball will dinosaur itself long before you have to worry about whether some team who puts their third string infield in at pitcher can whine about being down 16-0 rather than 15-0 cuz some evil scumbag *gasp* swung his bat!  

I know I can't wait until we get that sweet, sweet inning of Kyle Garlick on the mound just so we can salivate at the chance to stomp our feet and be angry someone tried to swing on him!  

This whole post should be carved in granite outside all 30 stadiums.  Fantastic takedown of the inanity of "unwritten" rules.

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My issue was with the fact that he stood there for a second admiring it, like he just took Aroldis Chapman or Josh Hader deep. He should have just put his head down and run. It was basically a BP HR, not the game winner in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 of the WS...

Contracts are performance driven, you have to get results to get paid. Don't like the result, perform better. Also, that hit could help him win the batting title at the end of the season, resulting in more $$$, whereas it won't hurt Astudillo in contract negotiations. 

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From what I had read previously about Mercedes is he isn't exactly a mature individual or follower of rules.  In fact his attitude was bad enough to keep teams away from him.  He is a discipline problem but he has been hitting well so he is getting his chance.  Trying not to be demeaning but he probably isn't the brightest bulb to start with.

I guess I can agree that not humiliating your opponent is a good strategy.  Honestly you don't want to wake a sleeping dog up by making them look bad or injuring their pride.  Larussa is smart to do what he can to not kick the other team when they are down.  It only gives the other team greater incentive to try harder to win the next game.  Having a certain level of respect is the smart play and good sportsmanship.  However, in baseball the game still has to be played and players get paid based off their stats.  They can't just easily throw at bats away.  It is still a contest until the game is over and honestly they should be trying hard to play well until the end.  While I can see the Mercedes HR on 3-0 was ill advised I still don't think he needed to be thrown at.

That being said if those who believe throwing at players is the right course of action maybe the next time you do something wrong someone should throw a 90mph fastball into your ribs to remind you not to mess up again.  Come on we are supposed to be evolved beings and at your place of work people don't face beatings or physical punishment when they make mistakes.  Can they be disciplined sure. Can they be fired sure but we don't throw stuff at them. It just boggles my mind that we think throwing 90mph baseballs at someone is acceptable.

 

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5 hours ago, Dodecahedron said:

Typically, when a manager, boss, leader, or heck any stakeholder wants something to happen a certain way, he or she communicates that in advance.  Otherwise -- shocker -- it never unfolds that way.

LaRussa can get blue in the face all he wants.  Neither he nor any player in the dugout communicated to this player what the plan was.

Rules, laws, norms, mores, whatever you want to call them, need to be communicated, whether the "rules" are written or unwritten.  Especially so in a dugout, where the players have vastly different experiences, histories, and viewpoints.

I don't blame this kid for not getting the memo that was never sent.  We all know what people say about the word "assume."

Every person on the field, in both dugouts, and both bullpens--including Mercedes--knew what the issue was. 

Complain about unwritten rules if you will, but dont pretend he didn't know them.

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16 hours ago, Vanimal46 said:

Bingo. IMO it was more disrespectful that Astudillo is out there throwing slower pitches than middle school players to other professional hitters. The last guy to crush a 3-0 lob pitch was in the MVP conversation in 2020 and the cover of the sports’ primary video game 🤷🏼‍♂️
 

We’re getting so in depth with analytics, so here’s a compromise... Let’s differentiate the PA when a batter is supposed to try, and not supposed to try. 

Agree 100% about the nonsense its out the window when a position player is pitching.  Is it really necessary when rosters are expanded too to 26 guys now?  Would it have killed Shoemaker or Happ to throw the 9th inning?  'It would be his bullpen day anyway'.  

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16 hours ago, joefish said:

"Just let the kids play. "  No.

Start defiling the game after I, and my fellow old schoolers, are gone.

Keep the game bigger than the personalities. 

So you don't care about the game living on in the future and your grandchildren and their children being able to watch? Because if they don't make changes this league will die.

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8 hours ago, TheLeviathan said:

A few things stand out to me:

1. The first affront to the game of baseball was putting Austidillo on the mound.  I can't think of a more "defiling" act towards professional baseball than some catcher throwing 40 mph "heaters" in a professional game.  Hockey teams don't put their wings in at goalie.  Football teams don't play their third QB at safety.  Basketball teams don't play their equipment guy at center. It seems odd to me that we're aghast that a professional hitter took a professional swing in a professional game and not what the Twins did on the mound.  This kind of mind-numbing logic is the root of unwritten rules.

2.  What do you want hitters facing guys like Austidillo to do?  Stand there and get walked?  Stand there and take strikes?  I'm sure that will help the ol' pace of play.

3.  I'm going to let Lisa Simpson handle the "but it stopz so much stuffz from happening" argument.

4.  I've never understood why "old school" and "integrity" and other words are so tightly associated with a vague, randomly enforced set of rules designed to cover a bunch of butthurt cry baby professionals who complain mostly because they're getting beat.  If you don't like things happening......stop them.   What's more old school than that?  

5.  I commend the NHL and NBA for their steps to stop player policing.  (The NFL is a sport that basically requires you to play people correctly or risk serious injury) They haven't fixed all their problems, but both their sports are better for it and continue to improve because of it.  Don't worry, baseball will dinosaur itself long before you have to worry about whether some team who puts their third string infield in at pitcher can whine about being down 16-0 rather than 15-0 cuz some evil scumbag *gasp* swung his bat!  

I know I can't wait until we get that sweet, sweet inning of Kyle Garlick on the mound just so we can salivate at the chance to stomp our feet and be angry someone tried to swing on him!  

I was planning on writing more, but you covered it so perfectly I don't have to. This is 100% the truth.

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Unwritten rules in baseball are pretty dumb, but I'm also getting older and grew up with them, and understand why some folks respect them.  I get both sides. 

Someone made the point above, when comparing sports, that baseball isn't timed so it's a little different than, say, an NBA player jacking up a 3 at the buzzer when up by 30.  You have to continue play to the end of the game.  My problem was his celebration.  He/his teammates reacted like he hit a walk off against Babe Ruth.   

You really want to get back at a team??  My suggestion in the future is to switch from aggressive (hitting a player) to passive-aggressive.    If I were Rocco, I would have told my players to sit down in the field and have Tortuga throw 100 consecutive balls.  You wanna celebrate?  Fine, then we're done throwing it over the plate.  Grab a snack, you're going to be here for another 6 hours.  And if your reply to me is that this is stupid and petty, you are right, that's kind of what I'm going for :)

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18 hours ago, USAFChief said:

Every person on the field, in both dugouts, and both bullpens--including Mercedes--knew what the issue was. 

Complain about unwritten rules if you will, but dont pretend he didn't know them.

You don't know that.  It's possible that he was never in this situation.  It's possible he has never faced a position player pitching to him.  It's possible he *has* been in these situations before, but the coaches communicated the game plan to him.

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I'm old too and I don't like the unwritten rules. What I do like has now been expressed several times. You don't defy your manager. If he says 'take'..thats the rule! Period. If he takes and then swats a 3-1 pitch over the fence...let the debate begin.

I have seen many managers over the years yank a player immediately when they disobey the order of the manager. Anyone here remember seeing live, the Billy Martin-Reggie Jackson dust-up in the dugout? Earl would pull players for not hustling. And there are many others. So the 'sin' is not swinging at a 3-0 pitch by a position player in a blowout....its openly defying your managers instructions. No need to write that rule.

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