Any rule that isn’t worth writing down isn’t worth much. Or anything, really.
Baseball is full of these, apparently. The unwritten rules of the game are basically someone getting triggered while losing and trying to claim a moral high ground.
Among these rules may or may not be swinging at a 3-0 pitch in the late innings (undefined) while leading comfortably (undefined).
That’s what San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. did Monday night, delivering an 8th-inning grand slam to extend the Padres lead to 14-3 over Texas. San Diego went on to win, 14-4.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward got chapped and complained, although not before one of his pitchers, Ian Gibaut, threw a ball behind the head of San Diego’s Manny Machado in presumed retaliation.
“I didn’t like it, personally,” Woodward said. “You’re up by seven in the eighth inning; it’s typically not a good time to swing 3-0. It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game.”
Apparently they should have canceled the game right then due to snowflakes.
San Diego manager Jayce Tingler didn’t even disagree. He said that Tatis missed a sign to take the pitch. Tatis said he had no idea this was an unwritten rule, but offered up some mea culpa, probably so he doesn’t get fastballs thrown at his head for insulting the Rangers.
“I’ve been in this game since I was a kid,” said the 21-year-old Tatis. “I know a lot of unwritten rules. I was kind of lost on this. Those experiences you have to learn. Probably next time, I’ll take a pitch.”
Sure, because it then becomes OK to hit a grand slam if it’s a 3-1 count?
What happened to this sport? Is this America’s pastime? Don’t mention sportsmanship, because this is a Major League Baseball game, not some Little League or high school mismatch. The damn Rangers need a mercy rule too? Should San Diego bring the orange slices tonight to make up for it?
And forget the old cry of “class.” This is a sport where aging managers still dress up in uniforms/pajamas and everyone spits sunflower seeds all over the place. It’s a fun game, but classy isn’t applicable.
Woodward seems to think he’s protecting some ancient order of the game and is sad that his world is changing.
“I think there’s a lot of unwritten rules that are constantly being challenged in today’s game,” Woodward said. “ ... the norms are being challenged on a daily basis, so — just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not right.”
Give him credit for understanding that. He isn’t right and whatever helps eliminate dumb ideas like there are certain pitches you can swing at and certain pitches you can’t is a good thing. If anything needs to be challenged it’s that you throw a bean ball at some innocent guy just because his teammate had the audacity to hit a ball too far.
Gibaut was suspended by MLB for three games for his pitch. Woodward got one for Gibaut’s actions.
This is simple. Play the game and play it until the end. It’s like boxing, protect yourself at all times. This wasn’t running over a catcher with intent to injure or sliding spikes up for a meaningless run or base. The only thing injured were the Rangers’ feelings.
If Texas is that mad, they can come out and defeat San Diego in the next game. That’s how this works. Or should.
Why baseball is so, so soft is anyone’s guess. That’s where we are, however. One of the league’s best young players had to apologize for hitting a grand slam because some old manager couldn’t accept getting taken behind the woodshed.
Maybe the Rangers should start playing their games in Williamsport.
As Tatis Jr. noted, he’s been around the game since he was a child. Indeed, his own father, Fernando Tatis, played 11 seasons in the majors. In 1999, he made MLB history by recording 8 RBIs in a single inning when, as a St. Louis Cardinal, he swatted not one, but two grand slams against Los Angeles.
That all happened in the third inning, so maybe that’s early enough in the game that it wouldn’t have offended Chris Woodward and his fellow guardians of the game. Or maybe not.
Who cares, that’s how you play. If there’s a pitch to hit, you don’t wonder if you should swing, you just swing as hard as you can. Like father, like son.
Besides, the elder Tatis’ accomplishments are in the record books.
Written down and everything.
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