Let the kids play...but actually

Credit: Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

That title sound familiar? That’s because it was the title of not one, but two separate ads released by Major League Baseball and featuring stars such as Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Christian Yelich and more. These were released first during the postseason of 2018 and next during Spring Training of 2019. Now it comes up a few times every season where a team gets upset and an incident breaks out because someone is deemed to have “broken the unwritten rules of baseball” and these ads released by MLB themselves made light of that fact. The problem here is that MLB never backs it up and every season we see the same outrage from certain groups within the baseball community when one of these “rules” is broken.

To review, a few of the more commonly referred to “unwritten rules” are things like: Don’t showboat, don’t batflip or spend too much time admiring a hit, don’t steal bases or work counts when up by a lot, don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter and notably, don’t swing on a 3-0 count when up by a lot. These rules are from a different era of the game and are now seriously at odds with a growing desire by players and fans to see more emotion and excitement in the game. That last one is what sparked the latest incident between the Padres and Rangers last night.

Fernando Tatis Jr is one of the brightest stars in MLB today and is having a fantastic season so far. With the Padres up 10-3 in the eighth and the bases loaded, Tatis missed a take sign and swung at a 3-0. He connected and hit Grand Slam, his second homer of the game and one that gave him the Major League lead ahead of Mike Trout.

The “controversy” begins here because the Rangers threw the next pitch behind Manny Machado and Manager Chris Woodward complained after the game, saying “I didn’t like it personally, but the norms are being challenged on a daily basis.” Now, no one likes to lose and especially get blown out. Hitting a homer to grow your lead from seven to eleven would leave a sour taste in a lot of mouths but this is the majors. You play against the best every night and you should play hard. Teams come back from large deficits all the time, but Woodward seemed content with just riding out his seven-run loss. I guess the Padres should’ve just had some respect and let him take his L quietly.

Padres first year manager Jayce Tingler was in a tough spot here and he clearly tried to split the difference between being stern and encouraging his young star. He made it clear that he let Tatis know he missed the sign but also made sure to note that he congratulated him after the homer and his young, free spirit was “the last thing we’ll ever take away.”

There’s about a hundred different tweets and reactions I could post here to reinforce my belief that this is dumb and no one should be reprimanded for playing hard and succeeding. The topic of unwritten rules has been talked about a lot by players and other baseball personalities today and the prevailing thought is that they are antiquated and silly. The tweet I'm going with is this one from Marc Carig.



This is a topic that Yankee fans should be familiar with due to our history with Robinson Cano and more recently Gary Sanchez. We should not belittle these people because they don’t get a hit 10/10 times and we should especially not belittle them or discourage them when they succeed. Players will always be upset when they lose and that’s human emotion, but the idea that the players need to accept a rule that’s somehow also not a rule where they sacrifice their own job performance to please their opponent is just straight up idiocy.  

Its long past time that we be done with the silliness of “unwritten rules” and let these players do what they want to do, hit the ball, flip their bat, show emotion and celebrate with their teammates and not have to worry about which grumpy dude they’re pissing off by doing so. MLB ran the ads, now its time they backed it up. Toss these “rules” and let the kids play.

Article by Matt Graziano



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