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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Baseball’s Most Disrespectful Home Runs

Did Mercedes really violate baseball’s non-rules? If so, how severe an imaginary crime did he commit? How rare was his transgression? And have past aggressors against the sport’s unspoken honor code faced the same firestorm Mercedes did? To answer these questions, let’s start where all fruitful hunts begin: in Baseball-Reference.com’s Stathead search tool.

According to Stathead, major league hitters have hit at least 14 home runs that meet the following criteria: They were hit on a 3-0 count, in the seventh inning or later, while the batter’s team led by six or more runs. (Six is an arbitrary number right on the edge of blowout territory, which suits the arbitrary nature of rules that aren’t written anywhere.) Stathead’s count data is largely complete going back to 1988, with only sporadic pitch-by-pitch data available before then, so there have undoubtedly been more of these home runs. But even the limited list we have makes clear that Mercedes wasn’t the first (or even the last) to do this deed:

These are just the homers –– the goriest violations of the purported unwritten rule against swinging on a 3-0 count while winning a rout. They don’t account for hundreds of players who have otherwise put a ball in play in such situations. Taken together, if swinging away on a 3-0 pitch in a blowout is a baseball sin, a lot of hitters are sinners.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 12:12 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: unwritten rules of the game

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   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 16, 2021 at 12:51 AM (#6024460)
If swinging 3-0 in a blowout is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
   2. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: June 16, 2021 at 02:37 AM (#6024468)
If I'm a MLB player and my main function is to hit and you're going to insult me by putting in a position player to pitch AND you're going to groove a 3-0 pitch, then yeah, I'm swinging for the fences. What am I supposed to do? Take one right down main street? Purposely miss it? Bunt? Try to work a single somewhere? The whole thing is inane.
   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 16, 2021 at 08:49 AM (#6024478)
You know what is often the most frenetic minute of a basketball game? The last minute of a 20-point blowout, when both teams empty their benches, and the scrubs go all out: jacking threes, trying to steal the ball and block shots, actually talking sh*t (with a smile on their face) while they do it. Maybe the presence of a clock makes it different - the game is going to end soon, guaranteed - but baseball needs to chill out, big time. Throw a meatball, expect it to get hit hard.
   4. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 09:45 AM (#6024489)
Especially given that baseball isn't a game where "run out the clock" is an option. Until LaRussa's bullshit earlier this year, I had thought the commonly understood unwritten rule was that if you're the leading team in a blowout, you still swing away, but you stop working the count or trying to take a walk, stop trying to take the extra base, play basically station-to-station, etc. Getting to 3-0 is a bigger faux pas than swinging on 3-0.
   5. Ron J Posted: June 16, 2021 at 10:04 AM (#6024496)
#4. The usual process to getting to 3-0 is three straight unreachable pitches.

I remember many years ago a position player pitching (I want to say Vance Law but I am prepared to be wrong) bounced a pitch a few feet in from of the plate and after it was called a ball he said something like, "Quit squeezing me. I need that one to be effective"
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: June 16, 2021 at 10:56 AM (#6024514)
Until LaRussa's bullshit earlier this year, I had thought the commonly understood unwritten rule was that if you're the leading team in a blowout, you still swing away, but you stop working the count or trying to take a walk, stop trying to take the extra base, play basically station-to-station, etc. Getting to 3-0 is a bigger faux pas than swinging on 3-0.


I don't understand the idea behind it for those very reasons, but the idiocy extends beyond LaRussa. There have been two other times where the subject of swinging away on 3-0 late in a blowout came up in recent years, including just last year with Fernando Tatis.

See here.
   7. pikepredator Posted: June 16, 2021 at 12:27 PM (#6024534)
Try to work a single somewhere?


I think that's the game plan, yes. Earlier in the count. Really, it's the hitters fault for letting it get to 3-0 in the first place. It's the hitters job to swing at crappy pitches in a blowout, e(i?)nsuring weak contact.

That article is a lot of fun, I'm hoping B-R adds a DISS tracker to their site.
   8. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6024610)
If I remember right*, Mike Cameron did not swing on a 3-0 count during a blowout game in which he'd already hit four home runs. If ever there was a time to cut loose, that was it.

*Please check for me, someone.
   9. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 05:25 PM (#6024613)
It’s not the highest DISS ever. That belongs to Thomas Howard, a bench outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000. With a 15-3 lead in the ninth inning at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, Howard homered with three balls and no strikes off the Pirates’ backup catcher, Keith Osik, who himself had hit a homer the inning before. Howard and Mercedes are the only players on the list to have homered off a non-pitcher.

And who was Howard’s manager? None other than La Russa, giving him the distinction of managing both of the players sitting atop the all-time DISS leaderboard. It raises the question: Given that La Russa was so outspoken against Mercedes after his disrespectful dinger in 2021, did he have similar words for Howard after his galling goner 21 years earlier? We can’t know everything said inside the walls of the St. Louis clubhouse, but there’s no indication that La Russa expressed any outward displeasure. A search of newspaper archives from the day after the game reveals no discussion anywhere of Howard’s homer coming on a 3-0 count. In fact, the phrase “3-0 count” doesn’t show up in any newspaper articles covering the game the next day. Nor does “three balls.” A manual look through newspaper clippings on the game doesn’t show anything, either.


Of course.
   10. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: June 16, 2021 at 05:29 PM (#6024614)
OK, I checked myself and confirmed. From an article on mlb.com:

(H}ow good of a chance did he have at setting a record with five? Cameron’s next plate appearance came in the seventh, when he was hit by the third pitch he saw. He came up again in the ninth, seeing five pitches before lining out to deep right.

"I tried to go for it because I don't think the guys would have been happy if I didn't try," Cameron said at the time. "I hit it well enough but not high enough to go over the fence. [Right fielder Jeff] Liefer made a nice play out there. I really wanted to make it happen, but I didn't want to swing at that 3-0 pitch, because I didn't want to make my team look bad. But I think if I did swing at it, it would have been gone. I just know it."


In the accompanying video, Bret Boone specifically mentions the usual prohibition against swinging away in that situation but calls that day an exception. Cameron fouled the next pitch straight back and hit the 3-2 pitch to the warning track.
   11. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 16, 2021 at 06:41 PM (#6024628)
*Please check for me, someone.



You are correct.

Ball
Ball
Ball
Called Strike
Foul
Line out (Deep right field)

If I remember correctly, it wasn't that far from being a home run.

(His other non-HR plate appearance was a HBP.)
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 16, 2021 at 07:29 PM (#6024634)
Would it be OK if the batter pointed to centerfield before hitting a HR on a 3-0 count?
   13. Walt Davis Posted: June 17, 2021 at 02:47 AM (#6024694)
Most disrespectful HR? Duane Kuiper off Steve Stone obviously. No respect, no respect at all.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: June 17, 2021 at 06:41 AM (#6024697)
Here is how the article should have gone.

"here is a list of mlb's most disrespectful homeruns.... either it's all or none..." article ends. Anything beyond that is Kardashian watching or enquirer level of gossiping bs, but instead written by old white men.
   15. villageidiom Posted: June 17, 2021 at 08:31 AM (#6024700)
If I'm a MLB player and my main function is to hit and you're going to insult me by putting in a position player to pitch AND you're going to groove a 3-0 pitch, then yeah, I'm swinging for the fences.
If someone were to make a list of most disrespectful pitches, then a position player grooving a pitch down the middle would be it. We're not even gonna put a competent person out there against you, and he's going to throw the most hittable pitch, because we think you can't stop him. I mean, if we're going to infer a disrespectful attitude by the offense, no reason we can't infer a disrespectful attitude by the defense.

Position players pitching is disrespectful! Shifts are disrespectful! Outfielders positioned shallow are disrespectful! Not holding a runner on first is disrespectful! Turning a double play while winning a blowout is disrespectful! The whole game is overflowing with disrespect. Or, y'know, everyone is doing a job that helps their team.
   16. SandyRiver Posted: June 17, 2021 at 10:45 AM (#6024722)
If I'm a MLB player and my main function is to hit and you're going to insult me by putting in a position player to pitch AND you're going to groove a 3-0 pitch, then yeah, I'm swinging for the fences. What am I supposed to do? Take one right down main street? Purposely miss it? Bunt? Try to work a single somewhere? The whole thing is inane.

Agreed. IMO the players should continue to do their best but avoid risks. Getting hurt in the late innings of A 14-1 game is just dumb, so don't try to stretch that gapper with a headfirst slide into 3rd, don't crash into the wall trying to catch that long fly, etc.
   17. A triple short of the cycle Posted: June 17, 2021 at 11:44 PM (#6024920)
I thought this was going to be about bat flips. But yeah - it is okay to swing at pitches when you are batting. 'Can't swing on 3-0 count' is as dumb as not bunting during a no hitter, or not taking second base on defensive indifference when not being held on. Maybe there could be a concession rule, where the losing team just gives up and the game ends earlier.
   18. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2021 at 07:24 AM (#6024927)
There's been some dumb things done during attempts at rare events. The point is to win the game or if that is unlikely to put yourself in the best position to win later. And yet you do see teams and players instead focusing on things like breaking up a no hitter, ending a hitting streak, notleyting someone get an at bat to keep them possibly homering X amount of times.
   19. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 18, 2021 at 09:25 AM (#6024933)

Mike Cameron not swinging at 3-0, after he was *HBP* in his prior at-bat, shows a lot of restraint.

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