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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 Facebook: Email: Website:

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