Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Unwritten Rules of Baseball: Is It Time to Let Them Go?

dt.common.streams.StreamServerIn Game 2 of the ALDS, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz’s second home run off Rays pitcher David Price capped one of the worst outings of Price’s career — seven runs in seven innings.

Visibly frustrated, it’s understandable that Price would be upset with that performance — he pitched terribly in a game the Rays really needed to win to avoid going down 0-2 in the series, but it wasn’t the only thing that irked him later on. “As soon as he hit it … I knew it was fair. Run,” Price said in reference to Ortiz’s homer.

Apparently, Price took exception to how long Ortiz stayed at home to watch the blast; or in other words, Ortiz violated one of the unwritten rules of baseball.

There are a few rules about how players are supposed to act during a game, such as not stealing a base when your team is winning dramatically, not flipping your bat or admiring home runs. The complete list is exhaustive, and it gets very nuanced. They’re supposedly rooted in the earliest days of America’s pastime, but every player and team has their own interpretation of them, and this discord has naturally created a subculture of ambiguity and confusion.

Price thought Ortiz violated one of these unwritten rules. “Sometimes, the way [Ortiz] acts out there, he kind of looks bigger than the game,” Price said. To show his displeasure, Price drilled Ortiz in the hip with a 94-mph fastball on May 30 with the first pitch he had thrown Ortiz since the homer almost eight months earlier. That pitch ultimately led to clearing benches and the ejections of four Red Sox coaches and players.

To both non-baseball fans and regular followers of the game, this may appear ridiculous, and I have to agree. Price’s actions were silly, and the fact that it was almost eight months later makes it seem nonsensical. Many players are bent on holding true to these arbitrary rules, mostly because it was what they were told, but furthermore because baseball is “a game of respect,” as L.A. Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson said in Tim Kurkjian’s recent feature on, “The Unwritten Canon, Revealed.”

Is it really disrespectful for a player to flip his bat and admire a home run for a second? If Lebron James throws down a fantastic dunk and gets pumped and shows his excitement, no one says he is disrespecting the game or his opponents — what’s the difference? A player who just got the best of his opponent should be allowed to show a little swagger.

Baseball shouldn’t try to stick to the old ways for the sake of tradition. Style, flair and excitement should be welcomed into the game, just ask Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

It’s true that some unwritten rules about respect make sense. Brewer outfielder Carlos Gomez violated a rule against barking at opponents last September after he hit a homer against the Braves.

But when Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar stole third against the Red Sox while up five runs in the bottom of the seventh on May 25, it was ridiculous that benches cleared. The Red Sox also had no right to be angry; players who make millions of dollars do not have to put their foot on the brake just because they have a sizable lead — this is the pros, get over it.

The nuances just make it worse. What makes a lead too large that a comeback can’t happen and you can’t steal, or who has enough of a pedigree that they can show a little something after a homer — some would’ve said Ortiz.

Or how about contradictions? Sliding too hard into a player is always tricky because it can break up a double play but also seriously injure the fielder.

While I do not support dangerous slides, is it any more right that the response for this is throwing at a guy where he can also get seriously injured? While you usually can walk off getting hit on the backside, not all players are so lucky —last season former Yankee outfielder Curtis Granderson played in only 61 games because pitchers broke his right forearm and left pinkie.

I’ve always believed that you should just settle it with your play. If I’m Price, I’m looking to strike out Ortiz four times. If I get beat, so what? It’s part of the game, and a player shouldn’t use a lack of respect as an excuse to get back at a guy.

Some say the unwritten rules are dying out, but I for sure won’t be missing them when they’re gone.

Robert DePaolo is a rising junior in the College. Sideline Summer appears every other Friday at


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