PUT IT IN WRITING

I’ve long hated the “unwritten rules” of baseball.  Just why aren’t they written down? If they’re so understood and agreed upon, why do we have so many disagreements, erstwhile fastballs, and bench-clearing bouts of pattycake?
I googled ‘unwritten rules’, and did my best to defend what I found from the perspective of the offended:

Don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter
Fellas, I know we started the night competing against each other, but now that the night’s gone my way, at the expense of your own success, make sure you don’t resort to any means possible to avoid being on the wrong side of history in perpetual video clips. It’s almost as if you guys don’t want to be no-hit.  Do this for me.
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Justin Verlander didn’t like Erik Aybar leading off the 8th inning of a 3-0 game with a bunt. Aybar reached by (Verlander’s) error, and came around to score. Also, Aybar bunts a lot, which is allowed by the rules.
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Don’t steal a base when winning by 3 or more runs
Sport, I know we’re competing against each other in theory, but now that you’ve gone up by a lead that no human thinks is insurmountable, how about pumping the brakes and giving us a window to catch up.  If we do, then we can go back to, you know, competing against each other. Pinky swear.
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Don’t steal a base when losing by 3 or more runs
Sonny, come on, you’re down 3 runs. I thought it was understood that, instead of agreeing to compete against each other, we’d agree to not compete against each other. It’s almost as if you guys think this game is 9 innings.  Are we going to have to…
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Hit the *next* batter with a pitch on purpose
Bud, I know it wasn’t you–it was the guy in front of you who might not even speak the same language as you, much less be fluent in unwritten rules.  But instead of waiting till his next turn at bat, it makes more sense for me to drill you high and tight with this fastball.  Sure, I might miss my target and accidentally rattle your brain up against the inside of your Rawlings helmet, affecting the lives of your wife and kids.  But it serves you right for being teammates with that animated Latin kid you met two weeks ago.
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Don’t swing at a 3-0 pitch when winning comfortably
Bro, what gives? You saw me have trouble getting my pitches over.  It’s almost as if you think your next contract’s rate and term might be commensurate with your individual statistics.  Let me get one over, and then, at 3-1, you can ‘do you’. Pinky swear.
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If one of your batters has been hit accidentally, hit one of theirs on purpose
Gents, we have no reason to believe that what you did last inning was on purpose.  Heck, it was an off-speed pitch, there was already a runner on base, and your best hitter was on deck.  We know it was an accident.  That said, in the interest of our own chest hair, we are going to see if we can wedge a fastball in between two of the ribs of a guy on your team who didn’t even throw the accidental pitch.
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Don’t shift your defense
Competitors Friends, our skills don’t allow us to strike the ball with our bats to any and all fields.  We tend to pin our ears back, and swing for the fences–Pull, pull, and some more pull.  Be a peach, and place your fielders in their traditional spots.  This will make it easier for us to collect hits without ever having to evolve our skills.
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Don’t bunt against the shift
Duuuuudes, what’s with the deployment of strategy throwin’ shade here?  We deployed our own strategy, placing our fielders where your batter tends to place the ball most frequently. And then you guys have the audacity to attempt to place the ball where we’ve left the field unattended?  It’s almost as if you guys don’t want us to cleanly field the balls you’ve struck.
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Bo Porter is incensed that Jed Lowrie bunted against the shift, perhaps not realizing Lowrie plays for, umm, the *other* team.
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Pitcher Colby Lewis takes exception to this bunt by Colby Rasmus. “You’re up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played.”  Rasmus responded “I’m not here to try to please the other side, I’m here to help my team.” What a concept.
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Don’t admire a home run
Chief, I know home runs are hard to come by in the dead ball era.  But there’s no reason for you to get excited about this achievement, other than perhaps significantly increasing the odds of your team’s victory, or personal wealth gain at the next contract negotiation. But other than that? Nothing.
Next time, please ignore the internal rush of adrenaline and self-pride that comes with squaring up a round bat to a moving round ball at the perfect spot, and act as though it was of no matter to you.  You don’t see football players celebrate touchdowns, do you? Or hockey players celebrate goals?
National League Championship Series - Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals - Game Four
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Don’t steal signs
Broseph, those less than elaborate series of signs we go through are for our eyes only. It shouldn’t be on us to come up with something that a gaggle of ballplayers can’t decipher.  It’s quite unbecoming of you to attempt to find ways that give you an advantage in winning the contest.  You’re better than that.
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You’ve got to love the blurred lines baseball draws for us.  They are wavy, intersecting, and done in crayon.  When it’s convenient, you’ll hear ‘respect the game’.  When it’s not, you’ll see take-out slides and bean balls. Don’t those endanger another player’s access to respecting the game?
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Why is temperamental retaliation by throwing things something we dissuade our toddlers from doing, but accept from professional baseball players?
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Why is stealing signs frowned upon, but killing the 2nd baseman “part of the game”? Aren’t both done with identical intent?
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Emotional restraint on a home run in deference to the pitcher? Great.  But why defer to the opponent’s tear ducts but not his knees?

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If the unwritten rules of baseball are so sacred and understood, why do we have so many bench-clearing brawls?  And by brawls, I mean arguments where we all stand behind each other, acting as though four obese umpires are the only thing keeping our hatred for you in check.
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What’s keeping these guys from running straight for each other?
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Here’s a great rule:  Compete against each other,  within the rules of the game, until the last out.
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Can we write that one down?

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