Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/4/2014 11:39 AM

Baseball's unwritten rules not worth the trouble

Success - Article sent! close

Let's start with the blowout "rules," which informally state that in the late innings if you have a huge lead you don't push for the extra base because it can be perceived as rubbing it in.

My answer? Just play the game. Why can't a guy steal a bag if the defense lets him? As far as not trying to score from second base on a single with a 10-run lead, what about the batter, who is thus denied an RBI?

That seems hardly fair.

The hit-batter thing is interesting because adrenaline and pride come into play. Guys get angry when they get hit, especially when it appears to be on purpose.

Often a team will retaliate simply because its players have been hit too many times regardless of intent. There is a "we need to stand up for ourselves" mentality at play. I get it, but I have a very difficult time defending it.

Pitching inside is important. That is justifiable from a baseball standpoint. And if guys occasionally get hit, so be it. But I have a real problem with intentionally drilling batters as payback.

First, you can cause serious injury. Second, you are handing that team a free baserunner, which is counterintuitive when the general idea is to stop the opposition from reaching base.

Last, showboating always draws the ire of some "old-school" folks in our game who don't think it's good form. My answer to the pitcher is, don't give up a home run next time and the batter can't gloat.

Furthermore, it's hilarious that a pitcher would ever be upset at a batter for not running hard out of the box on a ball that doesn't leave the yard. Shouldn't a pitcher be thrilled if a batter jogs a triple into a double?

Ultimately, the biggest issue with the unwritten rules is that there seems to be a sliding scale when it comes to what those rules are.

I will never forget standing between two former big-leaguers, a pitcher and a position player with a combined 26 years of major-league experience, nearly coming to blows over a play the night before during which a runner stole a base in the middle innings with his team up by 6 or 7 runs.

It really proves that the "rules," which should be pretty much black or white because they're RULES, are completely gray, leading to disputes that often turn ugly.

Because the game operates under a mercurial system of tenets that nobody can specifically define, maybe it's time to either agree what the unwritten rules actually are and make them gospel, or, better yet, throw out the invisible book completely and just forget about it.

• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter@LenKasper and check out his baseball-blog with Jim Deshaies at

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.