Why Do We Still Follow Baseball’s Unwritten Rules?

A bad pitch. A grand slam. Normally, these words should be mentioned when speaking about how a baseball game got blown wide open. They shouldn’t be the source of so much controversy. But today is different, even if it’s for a reason I think is bogus.

Fernando Tatis Jr., the star shortstop for the San Diego Padres, is at the center of MLB’s latest controversy. This is the player who has been called “baseball’s most exciting player,” “a must-watch talent,” and is worth the price of admission. He is a third-generation MLB player and the son of the only man to ever hit two grand slams in one inning. So, why is he being criticized for hitting one of his own? Well, it’s because some baseball purists believe he hit it at the wrong time.

Apparently, this is one of baseball infamous “unwritten rules”: a list of unspoken maxims that govern how baseball players act during the game. Tatis Jr.’s “crime” was hitting a grand slam when his team was ahead 10-3 in the top of the 8th inning on a 3-0 count against the Texas Rangers.

I’m just going to call this what it is: ludicrous. Why shouldn’t he be swinging at the pitch? Baseball players are taught that you swing at any 3-0 pitch that’s hittable. And why does it matter that he ballooned the lead? It was already out of reach. The Rangers weren’t getting back in the game (they only scored one more run over the final two innings).

So, now everyone wants to gang up on the kid who’s barely old enough to buy a legal drink for playing the game properly instead of criticizing the abysmal pitching performance put out by the Texas Rangers. Nice job. To make matters worse, the replacement pitcher threw a fastball behind the next batter on his first pitch in the game. Let me get this straight: because Texas’ pitching performance was the lowest of the low, and a terrific player punished their awful play a bit more, the Rangers decided to retaliate by throwing behind his teammate to make themselves feel better?

Yeah. Real mature.

Thankfully, MLB saw this, realized that it was bush league, and gave the pitcher who threw behind Tatis Jr.’s teammate a three-game suspension and the Texas Rangers manager a one-game suspension as punishment for their cowardice.

Hopefully, they’ll take that time off to learn how to pitch better and be more competitive.

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