MLB Code: The Unwritten Rules


Major League Baseball fights aren’t uncommon. There have been, and will
certainly be many more, times that the benches clear from both sides, and
the bullpen comes running in from the outfield. Fists fly, helmets get
thrown, and players attempt to hold their stars back from harm. A lot of
fans jump up in excitement, cheering on their team, hoping they get the
last blow. Once the dust settles, and players are ushered back to their
own dugouts, one question seems to get asked the most. What exactly
started this fight? Chances are most likely that a player violated one of
the many unwritten rules of the game. That’s right. There are rules to be
followed, that can’t be found in any MLB or MLBPA contract or handbook.
How does one find these rules? Well, you can find them here. After
watching many fights break out, and many players tossed from games, the
unwritten rules have exposed themselves. What’s even more intriguing about
these rules, is that they are self-governing. There are no official fines
or suspensions handed down from the MLB commissioner. They “fines” and
“punishments” are dealt out by the players themselves, in the game. Let’s
take a look at some of the most popular rules that were conveniently left
out of your standard-issue MLB handbook.

1.      Do Not Admire Your Home Run From The Batter’s Box
Whether it’s your very first homer in the Majors, a record breaking crack,
or just an everyday slammer, you better not get caught watching it leave
the park, while you are still in the box. Once you realize it’s fair, and
it’s going to be gone, start rounding those bases. This is considered a
“respect” issue. Respect the pace of the game, respect the opposing team,
and don’t rub it in by standing there in admiration. Everyone gets it.
It’s out of here. Tag your bases, and go hug the boys in the dugout.
There’s no need to stand there, with that “hey, look at what I just shoved
down your throat” look. Looking too long at a homer might get you beaned
during your next at-bat…

2.      If You Pop It Up, Run It Out
Let’s say you rip one to left. It gets some major air, but no distance.
It’s an easy catch for the outfielder. What do you do? You run to first
like it was a line-drive down the first base line. Don’t just casually
walk over to first, taking off your gloves and shin guard as you go. You
play it. What happens if the outfielder drops it, and you look like a
moron for getting thrown out at first? How about setting the expectation
for your teammates? You have to teach the young guys to run hard. You have
to teach the youngsters watching live to run hard. And if you don’t? Well,
you might just get choked out by a fellow teammate. Ask Bryce Harper, of
the Washington Nationals, what that feels like.

3.      If They Hit One Of Ours, Hit One Of Theirs
If a pitcher hits one of your teammates, you’re probably going to see your
pitcher hit one of theirs. There are exceptions, as every player
understands that accidents happen. Sometimes a pitcher loses control, and
it gets close. Getting close is your warning. You can pitch inside, and
push a guy off the plate a bit. But if you mess up, get too close, and hit
him, you are in trouble. Even after an umpire issues a warning, which
means the next pitcher to hit someone gets ejected, pitcher will still
uphold their team’s “honor” and get revenge. Take, for instance, the
infamous “Bean Brawl Game”. In August of 1984, the Padres and the Braves
played a one of the roughest games in MLB history. During the outing,
there were three bench-clearing brawls, 13 ejections, and five arrests.
The Braves pitcher hit a Padre. The Padres threw at the same Braves player
three times, finally hitting him. Each time he got thrown at, the benches
cleared. For revenge, the Braves threw at yet another Padre. This game saw
many pitchers get tossed, and even a few fans come onto the diamond, and
actually fight players. If course, this wasn’t the first time this
happened, and it won’t be the last. So if you’re an aspiring pitcher,
don’t hit someone. And be prepared to hit someone on purpose, if they
break one of the unwritten rules, or if your team gives you the sign.

A few other rules include: not stealing a base when you’re up by a large
margin, do not walk across the pitcher’s mound (unless you’re the
pitcher), don’t flip your bat in an excessive manner, don’t bunt just to
break up a no-hitter, don’t talk about a no-hitter while it’s happening.

These are just a few of the many unwritten rules of baseball. Code, honor,
and respect are what keep players abiding by these rules. That, and the
fear of taking a fastball straight to the arm or leg. To people who aren’t
really followers of the game, these rules may seem silly. But to those of
us who may play, or follow, the game, we know they are serious business.
They are a way of life, and a time-honored tradition, that has been in
effect since the dawn of the baseball.

Be sure to catch more from Blake at If you’d like to
talk baseball with Blake, or if you have a topic that you’d like discussed
on-air or in the next article, feel free to contact Blake directly:

Twitter: @blakeacole

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