The Unwritten Written Rules of Baseball
There has been a lot of talk recently about the “unwritten rules” of baseball. Arizona manager Bob Brenly allegedly described Padre catcher Ben Davis’ bunt against Curt Shilling as “chickensh*t.” He also reportedly said, “Ben Davis is a young player. He has a lot to learn about how the game is played. But for a guy like him to put down a bunt in the eighth inning was uncalled for.”
Brenly’s comments started a somewhat lively debate about Davis’ play. Some “baseball men” agreed with Brenly’s opinion; many others disagreed with his thoughts. Both sides of the debate supported their opinions by citing their personal understanding of “the unwritten rules of baseball.”
What are the “unwritten rules?” ESPN’s Dave Campbell says, “Unwritten rules in baseball are like a code of conduct that is implied in any business. Some of baseball’s unwritten rules have been around for almost a century, and during that century the nature of the game has changed.”
If the baseball’s unwritten rules have indeed been around so long, why hasn’t anyone written them down? After reading and watching all the disagreements about the rules, I suggest that writing them down would certainly lessen the confusion over what the rules are.
Since I hate squabbling, I’ve decided to accept some responsibilitynot the nitwit “I hit my little brother off the coconut because he ran the bases with one flap down after his last home run and because Jim Furtado’s Lab Notes says this is an unwritten rule” kind of responsibilityand write the darn things down.
To get started on the task, I spent some time on the web looking for references to “unwritten rules” and “baseball” using my favorite search engine. Google found 806 web pages with those two keywords.
The first web page on the list was a list of “unwritten rules” from a 1986 issue of Baseball Digest. Before clicking the link I optimistically hoped I overestimated the time it would take to compile the list. Unfortunately, their list was far from comprehensive. Without even thinkinglet’s have no comments quoting this particular sentenceI came up with quite a few “unwritten rules” not included on Baseball Digest’s thirty rules. With a desire to be as complete as possible, I spent more time researching.
The result of my time surfing, and a search of my memory, is the following list of
61 62 63 64
65 previously “unwritten rules.” The list is as comprehensive as my search and my memory can provide. Please feel free to suggest changes or additions to the list. After sufficient time passes I’ll place the list in the Primer workbook area.
Optimistically, the work we do here will educate all those young players ignorant of the unwritten wisdom of baseball men, both past and present. Realistically, debating the topic should be fun.
Written Rules of Baseball
(in no particular order)
- On plane flights, coaches, veterans and the day’s starting pitcher get the good seats, when available.
- Never put the tying or go-ahead run on base.
- Play for the tie at home, go for the victory on the road.
- Don’t hit and run with an 0-2 count.
- Don’t play the infield in early in the game.
- Never make the first or third out at third.
- Never steal when you’re two or more runs down.
- Don’t steal when you’re well ahead.
- Don’t steal third with two outs.
- Don’t bunt for a hit when you need a sacrifice.
- Never throw behind the runner.
- Left and right fielders concede everything to center fielder.
- Never give up a home run on an 0-2 count.
- Never let the score influence the way you manage.
- Don’t go against the percentages.
- Take a strike when your club is behind in a ballgame.
- Leadoff hitter must be a base stealer. Designated hitter must be a power hitter.
- Never give an intentional walk if first base is occupied.
- With runners in scoring position and first base open, walk the number-eight hitter to get to the pitcher.
- In rundown situations, always run the runner back toward the base from which he came.
- If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get.
- Don’t bunt with a power hitter up.
- Don’t take the bat out of your best hitter’s hands by sacrificing in front of him.
- Don’t take the bat out of your best hitter’s hands by stealing second base.
- Only use your bullpen stopper in late-inning situations.
- Don’t use your stopper in a tie game - only when you’re ahead.
- Hit behind the runner at first.
- If one of your players gets knocked down by a pitch, retaliate.
- Hit the ball where it’s pitched.
- A manager should remain detached from his players.
- Never mention a no-hitter while it’s in progress.
- With a right-hander on the mound, don’t walk a right-handed hitter to pitch to a left-handed hitter.
- Rookie players should be quiet and respectful of veterans.
- Batters shouldn’t stop and admire home runs.
- Always run hard.
- Always throw to the cut off man.
- Don’t try to breakup the double play by going into second standing up.
- When turning the double play at second, aim for the chest of the oncoming runner.
- Do not swing at a ball with a three-balls, no-strikes count when your team is ahead by a lot of runs.
- Baserunners on second base should not pick up signals from the catcher and relay them to teammates—a practice called “tipping pitches.
- Never, ever rub the spot after being hit by a pitch.
- Visiting teams should not visit the home team’s clubhouse.
- Always wear your athletic supporter under your uniform.
- Do not hide someone in the centerfield bleachers with binoculars with the intent to relay pitchers.
- Be humble, or the game will make you humble.
- Never argue balls and strikes with an umpire.
- GM candidates who go back into uniform are forever seen as on-field guys and will no longer be considered for GM position. (Dave Stewart)
- Do not leave your starting position players in the game with a double-digit lead.
- Do not hit the opposing on deck hitters with a pitch during warm-ups.
- If a batter enters the 26-foot batter’s circle while a pitcher is warming up, the pitcher must throw at him.
- Throwing at a batter during one at bat is fine; throwing at a batter for two or more consecutive at bats is not.
- During a bench-clearing brawl do not throw sucker punches at guys who are at the bottom of the pile.
- With a ten-run lead or more, only advance one base at a time on overthrows or passed balls. Stop your runners at third and have them come home only on hit balls.
- Catchers should not impede the baserunner if there is no play at the plate.
- Do not slide into first to beat out a hit.
- Baseball caps should be worn with the bill forward.
- Black men don’t have “what it takes” to be managers or general managers. (Slowly going out of vogue, thankfully.)
- Step completely out of the batter’s box to get the third base coach’s signals.
- Do not take too much time outside of the box between pitches.
- Young players-both hitters and pitchers-do not get close calls.
- What gets said in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse.
- Don’t let “Mister Johnson” contact the food on the post-game buffet table.
- Don’t go onto the field to pummel an irritating fan; fans on the field may be pummeled on whim.
- Bullpens and dugouts must clear during on-field fights. All players must join in on the field. Extra credit is given for players joining in from the clubhouse.
- Rush to the aid, and physically support, any player that ventures into the dugout to catch a foul pop; sit motionless or get out of the way of opposition players on the same play.
Posted: June 05, 2001 at 01:13 AM | 9 comment(s)
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