I’m worried. Is the first rule of the Unwritten Rules that you don’t talk about the Unwritten Rules?
There’s a bit o talk in Wrigleyville today about these rules. Stealing bases with a big lead, or – a hit and run with the PITCHER at the plate and a big lead are not things that you often see in baseball. Usually because that team’s best hitter gets a nice 90+ mph fastball up around the chin during the next game. I think that penalty is required by the Unwritten Rules. It’s especially strange to see a well-respected former player turned manager as the villain in this story – Don Mattingly.
Of course, nothing in life worth talking about is ever that simple. How many runs is a safe lead? Do teams ever really give up when down by a certain number of runs? Especially when the losing team starts putting bench players in – guys who are trying to make the MOST of ANY situation – in that perpetual cycle of trying to earn more playing time.
On the radio this morning (ESPN-1000) they were talking about Whiteyball – the game-changing combination of speed, defense and VERY little power – from Herzog’s Cardinals of the early 1980’s. An anecdote was given about teams accusing Herzog of stealing bases with a big lead. The gist of Herzog’s alleged response: as soon as the other team stops trying to hit home runs to catch up, we’ll stop stealing bases – because that’s how WE score runs.
It’s hard to argue with that. The goal is to win baseball games, and if it looks like you’re running up the score – you’re going to take some flak. But if you take your foot off the pedal, and give up the lead? Ouch. Much, much worse. I have no problem with Mattingly ensuring a win for his team.
That being said. There are degrees of offense in the Unwritten Rules. MOST people would agree that a hit and run with the pitcher at the plate and a big lead probably crosses the line. Frankly, that’s a bit too much, Donny.
But, the Unwritten Rules are not written in stone… obviously. Ultimately, these are professionals, and every team is going to lose big a few times during the season. Suck it up, and get ready for the next day. It’s part of the game.
Of course, a 90+ mph fastball under the chin of a batter whose team was thought to be running up the score the previous day – is also a time honored part of the game.