By Ken Reed
Recently, there have been a couple fights in Major League baseball games due to somebody breaking a childish unwritten rule of baseball (sometimes known as “The Code”).
Let’s start with the case of Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
Mattingly and the Marlins are off to a horrendous start. Thus, Mattingly might be feeling a little more stressedu than usual. At any rate, in a game against the Dodgers, the Marlins trailed 5-0 in the bottom of the seventh. At that point, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager broke an unwritten baseball rule — in the mind of Mattingly anyway. Here’s what Seager had the gall to do: He swung at a 3-0 pitch!
That ticked off Mattingly. So, in the eighth inning, the Marlins pitcher A.J. Ramos plunked the Dodgers’ Brett Eibner. Well, that led to the Dodgers following another unwritten baseball rule: If you’re batter gets plunked you must plunk a batter on the opposing team. So, the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling proceeded to fire a pitch at Marlins’ star Giancarlo Stanton. However, his aim was bad and it sailed behind Stanton’s back. Benches cleared and a lot of pushing and shoving took place.
When talking about the incident after the game, Mattingly brought up Seager’s swing on 3-0 in the seventh inning four times.
How dare Seager commit such a crime!
One of the many problems with baseball’s unwritten rules is that not everyone knows them all. Also, the perception of what is permissible and what isn’t under the unwritten rules is in the eyes of the beholder. For example, in the Mattingly case, who knew swinging on a 3-0 count in the seventh inning with a 5-0 lead was against the unwritten rules. My guess is Seager was just trying to do his best to get a hit and help his team and didn’t realize he had broken a sacred “rule.”
Let’s look at another recent game. In this one, San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland fired a 98mph fastball into the side of Washington Nationals star slugger Bryce Harper. The reason? Harper hit two home runs off Strickland during the 2014 NLDS playoff series between the two teams and Strickland didn’t like the way Harper looked at him after one of the home runs. That wasn’t a misprint. It was a 2014 playoff game, nearly three years ago.
Are you kidding me? Sometimes these Major League Baseball players — and managers — act like they are emotionally 12-years-old.
Harper decided to charge the mound and threw some wild punches at Strickland. Strickland did the same. Both benches emptied and a melee broke out. Fortunately, it appears that nobody got hurt to any significant degree. Strickland and Harper both received suspensions, hurting their teams’ chances in the race for the National League pennant.
These unwritten baseball rules have been around the game — in one form or another — for 100 years or more. That doesn’t mean they’re right or should be part of the game moving forward.
Unfortunately, a great game is being tainted by players and managers doing stupid things in the name of a stupid code.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon