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Do the unwritten rules of the game still apply at the Major league level in 2019?

Even though it has lost some of its appeal, the Dodgers-Giants rivalry is still very much alive.  Madison Bumgarner and Max Muncy gave us a little taste of it last Sunday when MadBum took exception to the Dodger third baseman admiring his Bay splash moonshot in San Francisco.


That got me rolling my eyes, once again, at today’s players still abiding by baseball’s long, ancient list of unwritten rules:


  • Don’t bat-flip or watch the ball flight for too long after hitting a homerun;
  • Stop stealing bases when the score gets too lopsided;
  • Don’t pitch inside to a star hitter;
  • A beanball for a beanball;
  • Don’t steal signs.

There are many more of course, but these are the most prevalent.


I’ve played baseball my whole life and I am as passionate a fan of the game as anyone.  Let me make this very clear: I can’t stand the ‘unwritten rules’ culture baseball purists keep shoveling down our throats every time an over-sensitive ego has been bruised!


Going back to last Sunday, Bumgarner was angry with the umpire from the very start of the game, complaining about the strike zone. Muncy’s statuesque contemplation was in reaction to his perception of the pitcher’s cry-baby attitude.  I could’ve sworn I saw smoke come out from under MadBum’s New Era cap as Muncy slowly walked down the first base line, a smug grin all over his face.


The ‘old-school vs millennial players’ war has made headlines a few times this season.  Remember Reds’ Derek Dietrich during his early season homerun binge?  He lit up social media, reigniting the ‘baseball honor code’ debate after making a spectacle of his cocky reactions after hitting long balls.  The Pirates now have his face under ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ on the clubhouse billboard.


The White Sox’s Tim Anderson has become a notorious bat-flipper.  Why notorious?  Why is showing pride in an athletic exploit even a problem?  When a reporter suggested to Anderson that he wasn’t old-school, he responded: “What is old-school?  I guess old-school is for guys who played back then.  This is today, I’m playing now.  I don’t know old-school”.


I loved that statement!


Baseball is a fun game.  It’s often criticized for its conservative approach to marketing its star players.  MLB needs to take a page out of the NBA’s and NFL’s books and embrace its younger generation’s flamboyant personalities.  Sport is entertainment and emotion sells!


Why stop running when a team’s lead is 6 runs or more?  Baseball has no clock.  Anything can happen until 27 outs have been recorded.  In 2001 for instance, the Cleveland Indians erased a seventh inning, 12-run deficit to win a game in extra innings against the Seattle Mariners.


And is the line really drawn at 6 runs?  Or is it 5, or 7?  There’s a reason these rules are unwritten.  They’re not real.  They were made up by the same people who shout out: “What are you looking at?!” if you dare glance at them in a random moment of distraction.


So, Madison, you don’t like Muncy’s pimping?  Strike him out next time and punctuate it with an emphatic fist pump. 


Use that ego as positive, competitive motivation and put a stop to all this negative, childish foot-pounding!


  1. Pete Pete

    Carl, you're probably paid to write articles or use it to build your personal portfolio, but this is a ridiculous article.

    You're referring to one game that was played 18 years ago to drive your point that it's ok to continue running on your opponent when you have a huge lead? It's 9-1 in game 47 of 162, everyone just wants to get it over with and go home. Come on, man.

    When your 3-hitter gets hit by a 97mph fastball and is forced to miss 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist, you're saying no retaliation is necessary? Roll your eyes all you like, but I guarantee you that your teammates won't think really highly of you. Let me know how much offense they'll put up for you or how hard they'll play on D for you.

    Stealing signs is ok? Really?!

    I'm on the fence about bat flips and pitchers who dance after a strikeout, but so long as the two different mindsets are on the field, expect there to be fireworks. It's hypocritical for a guy like Chris Archer to cry if a guy bat flips, because Archer loves to put on a show too. But do that to a MadBum or Roger Clemens back in the day, and the next pitch you'll see SHOULD be in your ear hole. Why? Because those are two of the best at their position and they don't do that kind of stuff. And at the end of the day, regardless of your opinion, they're the ones holding the baseball and oops if it "slips", might end up in your temple. If they're not cool with it, you probably shouldn't be doing it, period.

    As a true fan, the game wasn't boring back then compared to today. In fact, I think it's becoming a farce.

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