Did A-Rod Break one of Baseball’s Codes?
You may have seen it. More than likely, you have heard about it. Yankee slugger Alex Rodriquez created quite a stir last week when he ran across the pitcher’s mound during the middle of an inning thus offending Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Dallas Braden . Braden and Rodriquez subsequently had words, Braden’s in anger, A-Rod’s in bewilderment. Words turned to several days’ press cycles of accusations and cross-accusations. (see video below).
Piling on, baseball players, fans, and pundits alike have weighed in as to whether they thought A-Rod had breached some unwritten code of baseball etiquette. Their confusion is understandable. There ’s a plethora of these unwritten rules in baseball. For instance, batters know they shouldn’t pose or admire a home run lest they might catch a ball in their ear flap during their next at bat. The amount of analysis devoted to the “A-Rod situation” on talk radio made you think we were debating the Articles of War in Congress. Mind you, there is no definitive answer as there is no written rule. Therein lies the beauty of the debate.
The baseball Illuminati quickly took sides for and against with no one really providing clear examples of this having been done in the past. For this potential breach of etiquette, A-Rod’s behavior served as a Rorschach test. Those who don’t like A-Rod took great offense at his actions while those who like him thought it a tempest in a teapot.
Fortunately for us, the very type of arcane, unwritten rules we are talking about here were recently discussed by Jason Turbow in his book, The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime. The book has gained critical aclaim, both editorially and from readers (amazon rating of 4.8 stars).
From Publishers Weekly
Nearly as long as baseball has existed in its current form, so too have unofficial rules that professional players have strictly adhered to. Yet as Turnbow demonstrates in this highly entertaining read, every rule of the code has certain variations. Most casual baseball fans are keenly aware of many topics that Turnbow broaches, and some are universally agreed upon—hitters admiring home runs is severely frowned on, as is arguing with one’s manager in public view and being caught stealing signs. But other rules are less cut-and-dried. On the subject of retaliating for a teammate being hit by a pitch: some believe the pitcher should be plunked in his next at-bat, while others say it should be a player with corresponding talent to the hit batter. Turnbow has an example for nearly every conceivable situation, and with quotes from dozens of former major league players, managers, and broadcasters, the reader can better understand the actions that can set off even the most even-tempered ball player. It’s a comprehensive, sometimes hilarious guide to perhaps a misunderstood aspect of our national pastime, and will come in handy should one ever be involved in a beanball war.
Q. Among this latest incident, the pop-up in Toronto and the slap against Boston, has Rodriguez become the king of breaking the game’s unwritten rules?A. The only guy in A-Rod’s class is A.J. Pierzynski — who also makes a habit of crossing over pitcher’s mounds. The primary difference between A-Rod and A.J. is that Pierzynski is devious; everything he does on a ball field is calculated. He’ll cross close enough to the pitcher to actually brush him — nothing so obvious as a bump, but enough to tick the guy off. It’s all designed to take the pitcher’s focus off the hitter. I don’t give A-Rod that much credit.Q. What rule would you say Rodriguez is likely to break next?A. As an infielder, there’s a rule against throwing down delayed phantom tags (dekes in baseball parlance, short for “decoys”), which can cause runners into late, awkward slides with a significant potential for injury. Padres infielder Derrel Thomas did just that to Gene Clines in 1973, throwing his glove down at the last moment as Clines steamed in from first on a stolen-base attempt. The fact that the pitch had been ball four, giving Clines the right to the bag anyway, made the play patently ridiculous. Clines tore ankle tendons as the result of a hasty slide, and never fully recovered. Clines said that Thomas “did have a reputation for doing some things on the field that weren’t the way you were supposed to play the game.” That description also suits A-Rod.