Jordan Bean | Sacked
Writing the unwritten
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 02:09
As happens several times a year, a benches-clearing brawl occurred in a baseball game this past week. Often the instigator in the fight has broken an unwritten rule. Wait, you may ask, how can you start a fight over something if it’s not actually a rule?
Great question. The answer is that I don’t know. This particular incident involved a player watching his home run a little too long and mouthing off to the players on the field. This is after earlier in the season he was hit by a pitch by the same pitcher. Brian McCann decided to take the situation into his own hands by physically confronting the offender, Carlos Gomez of the Brewers, and refusing to allow him to cross the plate.
My response when I saw the video consisted of two parts. First is that if a pitcher doesn’t want a player to show him up, don’t give up a home run. Good advice, right? Second was what gives Brian McCann the right to decide that Gomez’s actions were wrong and deserved to be challenged before touching home plate?
Is McCann the moral police on the field? Does he get to decide what’s right and wrong between the lines? Unwritten rules allow for different interpretations of the same play. It makes something out of nothing and leaves everyone worse off for it.
Major League Baseball services such a diverse selection of players that it’s nearly impossible to have everyone on the same page with these “unwritten” rules. Players span from locations such as Japan, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and from California to New Hampshire right here in the United States.
Each player grew up in a different program. They were taught the game in different ways by different coaches in different systems. Are you starting to see a theme here? Each player comes from a different background with a unique way of playing the game — but they’re all expected to know the same unwritten rules.
Even the rules that are supposedly known among the league aren’t agreed upon. How long is too long to watch a home run? Is it three steps? Four? A pitcher can hit a player after his teammate is hit but can’t admit it after the game or he’ll get suspended?
Baseball players are too sensitive to other players celebrating an accomplishment. This problem doesn’t happen in the NBA or NFL. When a player hauls in an impressive touchdown catch, he celebrates with his teammates while the defense heads to their bench looking for a way to stop them next time.After a momentum-changing three-pointer or monster dunk, the players on one team will get excited while the other team looks the other way as if it didn’t happen.
Yet, when a baseball player watches a home run it all of a sudden gets personal. The other team has to get revenge by starting an argument or hitting him next time up. They feel the need to complete the cycle of the unwritten rules.
Let me write out a simple message to the league. If you don’t want a team celebrating on your field, don’t let them win. If you don’t want a player showboating a home run, don’t let him hit it. Yes, I understand that they’re not trying to let them hit a home run or clinch a playoff berth, but accept that the player got the best of your pitch or team and move on.
A rule book is established for a reason. It allows a sense of order in a game that is usually moving at high speeds. Respect and enforce the rules that are written. Reject the notion that there are additional rules that aren’t. Until next time, those who try to enforce these so-called unwritten rules — you’re sacked!
Jordan Bean is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. He can be reached at Jordan.Bean@tufts.edu.