Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
There are some “Unwritten rules” in Major League Baseball, well all sports, but this discussion is about baseball. Some of these are completely whack and outdated.
On Monday night, San Diego Padres young phenom, Fernando Tatis Jr. launched an 8th inning grand slam on a 3-0 pitch from Juan Nicasio of the Texas Rangers. This seems all innocent (it really is), but the Padres were already ahead 10-3 at the time of the dinger.
The unwritten rule is that you shouldn’t swing at a 3-0 pitch when your team is comfortably ahead in the scoring column. How big does the lead have to be? Well that’s a different answer, depending on who you ask. After the game on Monday, Rangers skipper Chris Woodward said “There’s a lot of unwritten rule that are being challenged in today’s game.”
Good. Those rules should be challenged.
Another unwritten rule occurred on the very next batter. Manny Machado stepped into the batter’s box and then was thrown behind by rookie Ian Gibault, who was immediately ejected and then suspended three days a day later. I’m all for having your teammate’s backs, but I am not for head hunting. In this instance, there was no need for Gibault to have Nicasio’s back, as Nicasio simply needed to make a better pitch. That is his job after all.
Tatis’ manager Jayce Tingler had this to say following the game, after stating Tatis missed a take sign.
“It’s a learning opportunity and that’s it. He’ll grow from it.”
Why would you not have your blossoming young star’s back in that instance? Missed a take sign? His job is to hit the baseball, not worry if he offended the other team. The score should not matter. The count should not matter. The game is played to be won and Tatis did everything he could (2 home runs, 7 RBIs Monday night) to ensure his team got the victory.
To me, Tingler has to have his player’s backs in that situation. Machado did nothing to warrant that ball being thrown behind him, but the unwritten rule.
MLB players are paid millions of dollars on a yearly basis to play the game of baseball. Some players get paid to be great hitters and defenders, and others get paid to pitch the ball. In some player contracts, there are incentives that trigger more money by getting x-amount of hits, home runs, RBIs, etc. Tatis is 21-years old, barely old enough to purchase alcohol, but loves and respects the game of baseball, following in his father’s footsteps.
When addressing the media following the game, Tatis issued an apology and had this to say:
“This game is hard for everyone, so why not just celebrate and have fun the way you wanna have fun?”
A night later, Tatis had two hits and a stolen base to help the Padres sweep the two-game set against the Rangers. San Diego was up six-runs when Tatis snagged his 6th stolen base of the year (tied for the league lead) but the Rangers didn’t cry afoul for that unwritten rule.
Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do, let alone trying to hit 90-plus MPH pitches on the Major League level.
If you love the game of baseball and are getting paid to be a participant, you should be able to celebrate however you see fit and make the most of your time. If a pitcher doesn’t like a hitter admiring a moon-shot home run, throw a better pitch. If you are a hitter and are upset that a pitcher celebrates a strikeout in emphatic fashion, do better and hit the ball.
The game of baseball should embrace the young superstars, like Tatis, Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Ronald Acuńa Jr., who are lighting up the league and genuinely enjoying themselves. This season is the most difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but these young players are just enjoying the game for all the right reasons. They are playing every game like it’s their last, as they do not know when or if the season could be suspended or cancelled. Baseball isn’t as popular as it once was, but the young guys, if marketed correctly, can change that.
A bevy of current and former players have come out and supported Tatis. A lot of pitchers are saying to throw better pitches, especially in the 3-0 count and you don’t want the batter to take you deep. One of the most well-known baseball players and one of the all-time greats, Mr. October, Reggie Jackson loves what Tatis is doing.
Fernando Tatis keep playing hard and playing great, it’s a pleasure to watch you play, love your success and the Padres rise to be a winner. Keep leading the way. It ain’t easy to hit Hrs. Keep bringing energy you have to the game, we need players like you. An All Star
— Reggie Jackson (@mroctober) August 18, 2020
Some other unwritten rules include: not bunting to try and break up a no-hitter, don’t steal bases when up or down too much (how much is too much?) and don’t flip your bat, admire your homer for too long or take too long rounding the bases after a round-tripper.
Get that out of here. As stated above it’s hard enough to hit a baseball, but to hit a home run (no easy feat) off a pitch that traveled close to or close to 90 MPH, is mighty impressive. Players should celebrate any way they want. Let the kids play and have fun. Being considered one of the best, along with winning are what a lot of athletes consider fun. Let it happen.
Also, if I’m a hitter, my job is to not only hit the ball, but to get one base by any means necessary. If I have to bunt to break up a no-hitter, then so be it. I do not want the opposing pitcher to no-hit my team. Why would anyone want to be on the wrong side of history?
Tatis leads the league with 11 home runs, is tied for first with 6 stolen bases and has 28 RBIs. He boasts a slash line of .310/.384/.710 and is simply one of the futures of the game. His Padres are 13-12, 5 games back of the NL West leading Dodgers and only a half-game behind a wild card spot.
That young man had not a single thing to apologize for and he should keep setting the league on fire.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @KingEdward15 to discuss any and all sports with me.
Be kind. Be Safe. WEAR A MASK. ARREST THE COPS THAT KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR!