Baseball’s Unwritten Rules Ended Years Ago
The San Diego Padres might be playing only .500 baseball after 24 games, but they have the most exciting young player in the game today. 21-year old Fernando Tatis Jr. leads MLB in home runs, RBIs, and runs scored. Last night, he hit a pair of dingers against the Texas Rangers including a grand slam in the 8th inning. Tatis swung on a 3-0 count with the Padres already ahead by seven runs, prompting some people to say that the young shortstop broke one of baseball's unwritten rules.
The next Padres batter, Manny Machado received a fastball behind his head by Texas reliever Ian Gibaut. After the game, both Rangers manager Chris Woodward and Padres manager Jayce Tingler were critical of Tatis and his decision not to take the pitch. Tatis Jr. even issued an apology afterwards saying he missed the take sign from his third base coach because he was so dialed in during his at bat. Gibaut was suspended today for three games for throwing behind Machado while Woodward received a one-game suspension. Meanwhile, Twitter exploded last night over baseball's unwritten rules discussion after the Tatis grand slam.
Padres starter Zach Davies had perhaps the best answer, since he told Dennis Lin from the Athletic "make sure your 3-0 pitch is a little bit better."
I still consider myself a baseball purist. I think pitchers should always hit in the National League, miss the days before Interleague Play when the All Star Game really mattered, and loath the new extra innings rule. However, times have changed and thanks to social media, the internet, and smart devices, people have more outlets to express themselves now than ever before. If swinging on a 3-0 count in a blowout game is a sin, then you might as well just end the game early so fans can be spared the last few innings since you should not run up the score. Tingler might be a rookie manager who coached alongside Woodward with the Rangers, but he was wrong to not come to the defense of his superstar player. He deserved more blame than Tatis Jr., yet the manager was not the one apologizing after the game.
Whether it's wild bat flips, admiring home runs, bunting to break up a no-hitter, or any other unwritten rule, baseball players, managers, and fans should understand that the game has changed. There are plenty of old YouTube videos that they can enjoy if they want to re-live the old days. In the meantime, enjoy what baseball has to offer and its young stars of today.