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Jim's Lab Notes
— Site News, Baseball Talk, and a Bunch of Other Stuff
Tuesday, June 05, 2001
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
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
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