If you didn’t catch my article last week, I wrote about Marcus Stroman and what his decision to opt out of the season meant for his service time. This week, we’re going to be diving into another big story in the baseball world and it’s implications.
Last night, Padres’ shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a grand slam. On a 3-0 count. With his team up 10 to 3. This caused some stir in the MLB community, as some (especially Rangers fans) stated Tatis Jr. “broke one of the unwritten rules of baseball” by not taking the pitch when they were already up 7 late in the game. More than a few players (current and former) weighed in on Twitter.
3-0 counts rule 😒😒 you just have to pitch better if you don’t want that to happen I never see that rule and I take my self as an example because I’m the king🤴🏽🤴🏽of 3-0 counts 🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️ https://t.co/TkMDDOCIkX
— Eduardo Rodriguez (@eduardorod5) August 18, 2020
So you take a pitch…now you're 3-1. Then the pitcher comes back with a great setup pitch…3-2. Now you're ready to groundout into a double play. Everyone should hit 3-0. Grand Slams are a huge stat. @tatis_jr https://t.co/4D3ilsD9Sh
— Johnny Bench (@JohnnyBench_5) August 18, 2020
Rangers manager Chris Woodward on Fernando Tatis Jr. swinging 3-0 on his grand slam: "I didn't like it personally. You're up by 7 in the 8th inning, it's typically not a good time 3-0. It's kind of the way we were all raised in the game. But … the norms are being challenged."
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) August 18, 2020
From what it sounds like, most players and fans are in agreement that Tatis Jr. should not be receiving any flack for swinging at this pitch. Yeah, it sucks for the Rangers, but you have to pitch better if you don’t want something like that to happen. When you’re a professional, you have to understand sometimes you’re going to get beat bad, and that’s what happened here.
This sort of reminds me of the time back when I played where my dad (who was coaching my town league team) told me to strike out on purpose because of how bad we were beating the other team. That’s not something you’re going to see in the MLB because 1) we were all teenagers, 2) there was a mercy rule in place, and 3) I wasn’t getting paid to play. Trust me, it sucked to not do something like Tatis Jr. did, but there’s a variety of factors that makes this situation so very different from when I was 15.
Now, with that specific situation out of the way, let’s talk about the unwritten rules in baseball as a whole. This is a conversation that comes up at least once or twice during a season, and its typically due to someone’s “unsportsmanlike conduct.” Things like Jose Bautista’s bat flip in 2015, Simmons bunting to break up a no-hitter in 2018, or many of Tim Anderson’s bat flips last year have been labelled as violations of the unwritten rules. Wikipedia, ironically, has a pretty full list of the unwritten rules of baseball for anyone interested.
If you want to know my opinion on these rules, I think it depends on which ones we’re talking about. Some of them, like crazy bat flips and admiring long home runs, are a little ridiculous to me. It comes from the old notion of baseball being a “gentleman’s game,” which in reality just removes some of the fun from the sport. However, some of them do seem reasonable to me. Bunting to break up a no hitter, in my opinion, is a little bit of a scummy move. I would also say the same about stealing when you’re already up by a significant margin (especially late in the game). It definitely can feel arbitrary about which ones we should keep and which ones we get rid of, but hopefully we as a baseball community can come together to figure it out.
– Pat Shuman (@PShu1996 on Twitter)