The Unwritten Rules
Baseball is a simple game, the pitcher throws a leather covered ball of twine and the batter hits it with a sturdy stick of wood. The issue is that the players have a code, the so called “unwritten rules of baseball”. These “rules” are enforced by players and sometimes can make the game less enjoyable for fans to watch. Some are just yell worthy, like stepping on the pitcher’s mound if you’re not the pitcher. But the concept of hitting a batsman with a pitch for any number of reasons is the unwritten rule that needs to go.
In the News
The Baltimore Orioles vs Boston Red Sox series comes to mind immediately. For those who missed it, Manny Machado slid hard into second base clipping Dustin Pedroia in an attempt to break up a double play. Pedroia wound up injured from the play. Twice Boston pitchers threw behind Machado, and the games just deteriorated over the first two parts of the season-long series. There is no drama in wondering when someone is going to get beaned. Throwing behind a player at head level is uncalled for regardless. There is already enough risk when a batter steps into the box; adding to it by intentionally plunking him is just unnecessary. Matt Barnes was, appropriately, suspended for throwing behind Machado.
In the current Toronto Blue Jays vs Atlanta Braves series, Jays pitching has hit seven Braves batters, including a hit on the hand that has sent Freddie Freeman to the disabled list with a broken wrist. It happens, the Jays pitching staff is ailing, and the Minor League fill-ins are suffering with control issues. It’s probably that none of those HBPs were intentional. However, two Jays players broke the unwritten in the second match of the series.
Kevin Pillar‘s Slur
First, Pillar shouted a homophobic slur at Jason Motte in the seventh for “quick pitching” him. The dugouts cleared, but no ejections followed and umpires were able to restore order. Both Pillar and the Blue Jays have issued apologies on the matter. For the record, Pillar seems genuinely sincere and upset with himself.
Statement from the Toronto Blue Jays. pic.twitter.com/ASZuzUM6RM
Gregor Chisholm reported via twitter that the Jays had taken matters into their own hands.
Two-game suspension for Pillar per #BlueJays GM Ross Atkins. His pay for those two games will be donated, club working out specifics.
Joey Bat’s Bat Flip
In the eighth, Jose Bautista hit a solo-shot off Eric O’Flaherty and flipped his bat. Replacement first baseman Jace Peterson chirped at him, and Kurt Suzuki met him at the plate to have words. The benches cleared a second time. The umpires restored order, and nobody threw punches.
The Third Game
It should have been over after last night’s game. Yet, what should have be a pitching duel between the Braves Julio Teheran and Jays Marcus Stroman almost stooped to the level of the Orioles-Red Sox feud. Teheran threw behind Bautista early, and then drilled him on the next pitch. Both benches were warned.
What needs to be done
The “unwritten rules”, which no one can explain with any specificity, need to go. A freelance sports-writer earlier tweeted that he hoped Joey Bats takes a heater in the numbers (intentionally not linked to avoid giving him more publicity). He got his wish. It’s a shame to mar the holy game with these vendetta plunkings, because a bean ball could end a career or even a life. There’s no room for that in baseball. Further, and most importantly, the guys in the majors need to remember that there are kids that emulate them. Also, game time and slow play is a concern at the commissioner’s office, and the time it takes to clear the field when the players storm it adds to game length.
Every plunk needs to be looked at by the league office. If it appears to be retaliatory or intentional in nature, the league needs to take a stand. The league office must force the retaliatory plunking out of the game.