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gblowfish
05-06-2010, 09:36 AM
Come correct, or don't come at all!


The 'Code': Ten unwritten baseball rules you might not know

By Jason Turbow

Ed. note: Jason Turbow is author of the new, critically-acclaimed book "The Baseball Codes." It's available for purchase through the book's Web site.



Last month, when A's pitcher Dallas Braden(notes) called out Alex Rodriguez(notes) for cutting across the Oakland Coliseum mound, the country was informed of a small slice of baseball's Code that had lain mostly dormant in recent memory.

It was only one of a litany of unwritten rules that covers major leaguers' actions, designed essentially to preserve a baseline level of respect between competitors. They constitute the moral fabric of the game.

The best known of these rules tells players not to steal a base when their team holds a big lead in the late innings of a game. Others include barring overt displays of exuberance in all but the most extreme circumstances; the hitter who watches his own home runs is the most egregious of violators in this category.

Many fans have heard of these rules (Alex Rodriguez himself was unaware of one). Some sections of the Code, however, fly under the radar (even for baseball insiders, to judge by the number of people within the game who had never heard the rule about restraint from crossing the pitcher's mound).

So, without further delay, here are 10 of baseball's more obscure unwritten rules:

1. Don't swing at the first pitch after back-to-back home runs
This is a matter of courtesy, respect for a pitcher who is clearly struggling, offering just a sliver of daylight with which to regain his senses. When Yankees rookie Chase Wright(notes) gave up back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers against Boston in 2007, the guys who hit numbers three and four — Mike Lowell(notes) and Jason Varitek(notes) — each watched a pitch before taking a cut.

"Let him know, okay, I'm not swinging," said Hal McRae. "I know you're out there trying to do a job, and I have to do a job — but you've just given up back-to-back home runs. So I take the first pitch."

2. Don't work the count when your team is up or down by a lot
This is true for both pitchers and hitters. Nobody wants to see the fifth guy on a bullpen's depth chart nibbling on the corners in the late innings of a blowout. Similarly, hitters are expected to swing at anything close. It's an effort to quickly and efficiently end a lopsided contest.

3. When hit by a pitch, don't rub the mark.
This one is all about intimidation or lack thereof. It's a hitter's way of telling the pitcher that his best shot — intentional or otherwise —didn't hurt. Pete Rose made a point of sprinting to first base after being hit, to ensure that he stripped all satisfaction from the pitcher.

"It's a macho thing, like a fighter who gets clocked in the mouth and shakes his head like it didn't hurt him," said Rich Donnelly. "But believe me, it hurts."

Lou Brock was the only hitter Sandy Koufax ever threw at intentionally, and despite the fact that his shoulder was fractured by the pitch, forcing him from the game, never once did he rub the spot. The Washington Post once reported that Don Baylor "was hit by 267 pitches yet never rubbed, even once. Of course, several of the balls had to be hospitalized."

4. Don't stand on the dirt cutout at home plate while a pitcher is warming up
Just as Braden dismissed A-Rod's attempt to enter his sacred space, the area around the plate is meant only for the hitter, and then only when it's time for him to hit. Should a pitcher be getting loose before an at-bat, it's strictly off-limits. "I stay as far away from the cutout as I can when the pitcher is warming up," said Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) "If they could, they should put the on-deck circle in left field to make me happy. I don't want anything to do with messing with the pitcher when he's getting ready."

5. Don't walk in front of a catcher or umpire when getting into batter's box
This is respect, pure and simple. If the line from your dugout to the batter's box takes you between the pitcher and the catcher, walk around. Like the A-Rod incident, you'll likely never hear about this one until a player is called out for brazenly violating it.

6. Don't help the opposition make a play (bracing them from falling into the dugout, etc.)
In 1998, Dodgers left fielder Matt Luke braced Arizona's Andy Fox as the third baseman staggered into the Los Angeles dugout while chasing a pop fly. He knew the Code, but he had also been Fox's roommate in multiple levels of the Yankees' minor-league system, and was so tight with him that Fox had served as an usher in his wedding. Even then, he had his limits. "I waited until he made the play," said Luke in the Riverside Press Enterprise. "I wanted to prevent an injury. We're competing out there, and not for one second do I want to help the opposition."

7. Relievers take it easy when facing other relievers
The caveat to this piece of the Code is that for the most part, relievers don't step to the plate in close games, which gives their counterparts on the opposing team some leeway in their approach. "You'd probably give them all fastballs," said Dave LaRoche. "It was just a professional courtesy type of thing. Here it is — I'll give you a chance to hit it if you can."

8. Follow the umpire's Code when addressing them on the field.
This is a book in itself. How one talks to umpires goes a long way toward getting favorable calls, or at least not getting thrown out of a game. ("That call was horse----" is generally acceptable; "You're horse----" is never acceptable.) Some savvy teams go so far as to post headshots and bios in the clubhouse for the umps working that day's game, so that players can butter them up a bit.

Still, there are ways to express anger without getting tossed. After umpire Shag Crawford called Dick Groat out on a play at second base, Groat told him, "You're still the second best umpire in the league." Then he added that the other 19 umpires were tied for first.

9. Pitchers stay in the dugout at least until the end of the inning in which they get pulled
This is purely about respect for one's teammates. "I know you're having a tough day, but give your teammates the respect to stay out here until the end of the inning," said Sean Casey(notes). "You don't want to show that you think the game's already lost."

10. Pitchers never show up their fielders
This doesn't happen frequently, but when it does, players notice. One pitcher who made a habit of excessive body language on the mound was Gaylord Perry, who would put his hands on his hips and stare down fielders who made errors behind him.

"That bothered me because nobody glared at him if he gave up a home run or something like that," said Dave Nelson, Perry's teammate on the Rangers. "I always felt like I deserved the same respect because I'm out there busting my butt just like he is, and if I make an error, it wasn't because I was doing it on purpose."

Perry's teammate in Cleveland, Oscar Gamble, had a different take: "If you don't do right, if you miss a ball you should have caught, you expect the fans to boo you," he said. "And this fan, Gaylord, was a player. That's the way I looked at it."

Perry, however, was occasionally able to find his fielders innocent of wrongdoing. Once, after shortstop Todd Cruz fielded a grounder and air-mailed the ball into the stands, Perry withheld judgment. "Too much stuff on the ball," he said after the game.



For more on baseball's unwritten rules, visit TheBaseballCodes.com

Short Leash Hootie
05-06-2010, 09:45 AM
Rep. That was a good read.

L.A. Chieffan
05-06-2010, 09:51 AM
I remember hearing something about Arod tipping off hitters on opposing teams in hopes of receiving the same treatment when he was up at bat.

If that is true, I think its even worse than steroids by far.

OmahaChief
05-06-2010, 10:00 AM
A good read but a lot of those are crap. Players should swing at any pitch they want no matter how many dingers the pitcher has given up in a row. I also don't care for the don't work the count crap. It is not the batter's job to make it easier for the pitcher to get an out.

He missed the one they always talk about. Don't steal bases or try to take the extra base when up by a lot. Total BS in my opinion.

I also hate in college football when teams take their foot of the gas in a blowout. Bring in the second team that is fine and run your offense but it is not the team in the leads job to take it easy on the others.

Old Dog
05-06-2010, 10:00 AM
Didn't know 7 or 9, don't believe #10 but wasn't a pitcher. #5 got me plunked a few times

gblowfish
05-06-2010, 10:56 AM
One thing that pisses me off is the Royals never knock anybody down ever. Pitching staff will give up four or five dingers in a game and not knock anybody down. You don't even have to hit somebody, just dust them off.

CoMoChief
05-06-2010, 10:59 AM
#1 is retarded.

It's the hitter's job to put the ball in play, score runs, move runners etc.

DJ's left nut
05-06-2010, 11:04 AM
A good read but a lot of those are crap. Players should swing at any pitch they want no matter how many dingers the pitcher has given up in a row. I also don't care for the don't work the count crap. It is not the batter's job to make it easier for the pitcher to get an out.

He missed the one they always talk about. Don't steal bases or try to take the extra base when up by a lot. Total BS in my opinion.

I also hate in college football when teams take their foot of the gas in a blowout. Bring in the second team that is fine and run your offense but it is not the team in the leads job to take it easy on the others.

It's cute to say that stuff, but the first time you go up hacking against that guy, you'd better hope you get on base or get out.

I knew of the rule and I also know that you're likely to get yourself or a teammate drilled if you blow it off.

Baseball still has some of the old golf-style traditions of decorum and respect. It's not football and it sure as hell isn't basketball. With 162 games on the schedule, if you don't occasionally extend some courtesy to your opponents, that stuff will mount up on you in a hurry and you'll become a target before you know it. To get through the drag of a baseball season, sometimes you need to work with each other to keep things sane.

Ultimately, you ignore that shit at your own peril. You may think it's stupid, but I dare you to stand in the cutout when a pitcher's warming up. I'd damn sure drill you for it.

The only two I didn't know were 7 and 9.

kysirsoze
05-06-2010, 11:07 AM
#1 is retarded.

It's the hitter's job to put the ball in play, score runs, move runners etc.

I think the rule is fine in most cases, but if we're down and rallying for a comeback, take what you can get.

Demonpenz
05-06-2010, 11:16 AM
The royals haven't shown they can have good plate at bats at anytime, So they need to practice blow out or not "spitting" on outside pitches. Working the count is a skill that needs to be worked on 100% of the time to get ingrained in your brain. So fuck taking in blowouts (note: JV baseball if it is a blowout hack away)

chiefzilla1501
05-06-2010, 06:28 PM
I've heard most of these rules before.

Running across the mound is a brand new one. That's news to me.

RJ
05-06-2010, 06:36 PM
This kind of stuff is why I love baseball. So much history, so many interesting characters. The human factor is a big part of the game.

Consistent1
05-06-2010, 06:46 PM
Any excuse to not like A-Rod is a good one.
Posted via Mobile Device

crispystl420
05-06-2010, 06:56 PM
Number 1 If you hit our guy we're hitting yours!

jbwm89
05-06-2010, 06:59 PM
I always hated when a batter would wait for you to come set to call timeout....I don't think this happens much in the majors but in High School and Legion ball they would do it all the time to throw pitchers off

chefsos
05-06-2010, 07:03 PM
I've heard most of these rules before.

Running across the mound is a brand new one. That's news to me.

I haven't seen it written, or spoken. But I've always seen guys who were trotting across the infield to the dugout make an obvious detour around the mound, so it was kind of obvious that stepping on it was a no-no.

Also, one I didn't see here. You're coming into second to break up the double play. Better get your ass down, or expect the submarine throw at your noggin.

OmahaChief
05-07-2010, 07:48 AM
It's cute to say that stuff, but the first time you go up hacking against that guy, you'd better hope you get on base or get out.

I knew of the rule and I also know that you're likely to get yourself or a teammate drilled if you blow it off.

Baseball still has some of the old golf-style traditions of decorum and respect. It's not football and it sure as hell isn't basketball. With 162 games on the schedule, if you don't occasionally extend some courtesy to your opponents, that stuff will mount up on you in a hurry and you'll become a target before you know it. To get through the drag of a baseball season, sometimes you need to work with each other to keep things sane.

Ultimately, you ignore that shit at your own peril. You may think it's stupid, but I dare you to stand in the cutout when a pitcher's warming up. I'd damn sure drill you for it.

The only two I didn't know were 7 and 9.


You might want to send along this diatribe to the Texas Rangers this morning. After giving up back to back jacks Ian Kinsler was first ball swinging and got a double. I did not see Soria go all bitch and try to earhole someone. He was a man and took his lumps instead. Trying to plunk someone because you can't get them out is effin weak.

RaiderH8r
05-07-2010, 08:13 AM
You might want to send along this diatribe to the Texas Rangers this morning. After giving up back to back jacks Ian Kinsler was first ball swinging and got a double. I did not see Soria go all bitch and try to earhole someone. He was a man and took his lumps instead. Trying to plunk someone because you can't get them out is effin weak.

Nope. Plunk'em.

Gotta leave a little fear in them that if they get out over that plate they could see a little chin music. Or just a fastball to the rib cage.

RaiderH8r
05-07-2010, 08:15 AM
In fact, one game I went 2-2 with 2 HRs and like 5 RBI's. I was plunked the next 3 times at bat. We trotted out to the field and the coach had me take the mound even though I'd never pitched before. We were blowing them out so I didn't think much of it. I went ahead and beaned the first 3 batters I faced, threw a 6-4-3, plunked another guy and struck out the last to end the inning. I about started a riot in the stands between parents.

DJ's left nut
05-07-2010, 09:24 AM
You might want to send along this diatribe to the Texas Rangers this morning. After giving up back to back jacks Ian Kinsler was first ball swinging and got a double. I did not see Soria go all bitch and try to earhole someone. He was a man and took his lumps instead. Trying to plunk someone because you can't get them out is effin weak.

You're aware that the rules change in the 9th inning of a 1 run game, correct? It's not universal; when a game is on the line you absolutely do what you have to do. Especially when the pitcher on the mound is an elite guy. But that article gets significantly longer if you start putting in all the fine print on some of this stuff.

But ultimately, like I said, ignore that stuff at your peril. I've seen guys plunked for far less.

Oh, and if you think that's a diatribe, you may want to switch to decaf.

Valiant
05-07-2010, 09:33 AM
In fact, one game I went 2-2 with 2 HRs and like 5 RBI's. I was plunked the next 3 times at bat. We trotted out to the field and the coach had me take the mound even though I'd never pitched before. We were blowing them out so I didn't think much of it. I went ahead and beaned the first 3 batters I faced, threw a 6-4-3, plunked another guy and struck out the last to end the inning. I about started a riot in the stands between parents.

Ok that is funny..

I do not play coed softball anymore for the simple fact my team was horrible and some quality teams with college softball girls would drop down and kill the average D league teams, 34-2, 20-4 in 3innings.. Those pricks never let up, they would even take walks up by 20.. Well I started to throw at them when I got the chance, bean them running to first, or run into the outfield cutoff and bean them went they went home..

Luckily the league has a rule now, if your team is that good you get bumped up no matter what to the competitive league the next session.. And the other teams will let the league know which teams try to sneak back as newer mixed teams.. Seriously what fun is it killing the other teams each night in coed D league softball??

OmahaChief
05-07-2010, 09:38 AM
You're aware that the rules change in the 9th inning of a 1 run game, correct? It's not universal; when a game is on the line you absolutely do what you have to do. Especially when the pitcher on the mound is an elite guy. But that article gets significantly longer if you start putting in all the fine print on some of this stuff.

But ultimately, like I said, ignore that stuff at your peril. I've seen guys plunked for far less.

Oh, and if you think that's a diatribe, you may want to switch to decaf.

So now the unwritten rules have unwritten rules. What if the game was in the sixth and you had just taken the lead 2-1 on two solo shots. Then take the pitch or due to it being a close game it is OK to swing. At some point you just have to play the game and not worry about this crap.

I hate codes, unwritten rules or any of that crap. I do support not playing dirty which I think shows much more decorum than these unwritten rules. Slide into second base hard but not with your cleats extended as to potentially injure someone, throw inside but don't hit someone becuase you are not able to get them out, learn a cutter don't resort to doctoring the ball up. Those kinds of things.

L.A. Chieffan
05-07-2010, 09:39 AM
Have you guys even played baseball? Trust me once you get to High School and especially Collegiate, these guys know these rules. Most fans do to.

OmahaChief
05-07-2010, 09:46 AM
Have you guys even played baseball? Trust me once you get to High School and especially Collegiate, these guys know these rules. Most fans do to.


I played in college. We did not adhere to most of these rules as our coach thought they were BS as well.

L.A. Chieffan
05-07-2010, 09:48 AM
I played in college. We did not adhere to most of these rules as our coach thought they were BS as well.

a ha, but you admit that you knew what they were... :titus:

OmahaChief
05-07-2010, 09:56 AM
a ha, but you admit that you knew what they were... :titus:

I honestly had never heard of the one where you take a pitch after back to back dingers. I had heard of most of the others but we never worried about them too much. Some of the crap on that list is just common sense I would say. Why would anyone want to run over the pitchers mound when you have even turf and no chance of a sprained ankle. The umpire issue is common sense. Don't help the opposition make a play, also common sense. And why in hell would a batter stand in the cutout when the pitcher is warming up and risk a ball getting away and nailing him when he has nothign to gain.

Short Leash Hootie
05-07-2010, 01:18 PM
In fact, one game I went 2-2 with 2 HRs and like 5 RBI's. I was plunked the next 3 times at bat. We trotted out to the field and the coach had me take the mound even though I'd never pitched before. We were blowing them out so I didn't think much of it. I went ahead and beaned the first 3 batters I faced, threw a 6-4-3, plunked another guy and struck out the last to end the inning. I about started a riot in the stands between parents.

I doubt this story...

No way would any umpire let you head hunt like that...you would have been ejected after the second beaning...if not the first.

And whoever was plunking you on their team...after the first time...should have been ejected each time as well.

RaiderH8r
05-07-2010, 02:20 PM
I doubt this story...

No way would any umpire let you head hunt like that...you would have been ejected after the second beaning...if not the first.

And whoever was plunking you on their team...after the first time...should have been ejected each time as well.

This is high school baseball. Erratic pitching and bad decisions were the cornerstone of the game. And I wasn't going at their heads...well sometimes. My accuracy wasn't too hot.

DJ's left nut
05-07-2010, 02:29 PM
I doubt this story...

No way would any umpire let you head hunt like that...you would have been ejected after the second beaning...if not the first.

And whoever was plunking you on their team...after the first time...should have been ejected each time as well.

Too much Bill Braskey in there.

Jason Varitek once told a similar story in regards to Matt Morris but it was told in awe.

When major league catchers are telling stories about major league pitchers (19 game winners and Cy Young finalists, no less) in hushed tones, that probably means it was some pretty hardcore shit.

You, RaiderH8er, are no Matt Morris.

Short Leash Hootie
05-07-2010, 02:32 PM
This is high school baseball. Erratic pitching and bad decisions were the cornerstone of the game. And I wasn't going at their heads...well sometimes. My accuracy wasn't too hot.

I played varsity baseball for three years in high school and was beaned maybe five or ten times in 400+ at bats...

I've never seen a stretch of baseball in my life like the one you described...if a coach puts in a guy who lit up the opposition for two home runs and then gets beaned three straight times and he hits the first two batters...even the first batter...the player would get ejected RIGHT away...regardless of whether it's high school baseball, legion baseball, etc. etc. etc.

Short Leash Hootie
05-07-2010, 02:33 PM
ESPECIALLY in high school baseball...

Short Leash Hootie
05-07-2010, 02:34 PM
I've only intentionally thrown at a batter twice in my life...

I pitched for several years and made a ton of starts and probably hit less than 10 batters in my entire life...

I'm thinking...on average...we saw one guy per game get hit by a pitch in high school...

RippedmyFlesh
05-07-2010, 03:56 PM
I think 1 was missing.
A 1 hop to an outfielder who throws to 1st.
I didn't know about that one until it was done on me.
I beat it out .
Then next inning he was due up and our pitcher said
"So johnny want me to drill him?"
I said no we'll save that bullet for some other time.
I played 10 years in msbl men's senior baseball league. It was fun.
I never played softball as an adult but loved baseball.
That league was a god send for me keeping me active from 30-40.
We had a handful of ex mlb's. The califonia and florida teams were filled with them.
It was an over 30 league and 1 team tried to slip a ringer through.
He was an ex su wideout and tried to play like 2 years after he left school.
I'm like dude I watched you play in the dome 2 years ago...

mikey23545
05-07-2010, 04:09 PM
Still, there are ways to express anger without getting tossed. After umpire Shag Crawford called Dick Groat out on a play at second base, Groat told him, "You're still the second best umpire in the league." Then he added that the other 19 umpires were tied for first.


LMAO