Hardball: The Tradition of Baseball Policing Its Own Continues
Over the years, we’ve seen the longstanding tradition of baseball players policing their own carried out during Major League games. The violators of these “unwritten rules of baseball” as we’ve come to know them, are typically dealt with while standing in the batter’s box and isolated from their teammates. In a very team game, it is one of the few times a player stands alone against the opposition. When a player has made himself the object of intense scrutiny like Alex Rodriguez has during this entire BioGenesis fiasco, he seems to stand alone at all times, even when amongst his teammates.
Typical baseball justice is the result of a player acting outside expected and accepted behavior… the norm. Some of these unwritten rules have become so familiar to the average baseball fan, one can almost feel it coming and give an “I knew it” when it occurs. We all know what happens when one shows-up the opponent in any way, don’t we? If a player stands in the box and stares at a home run too long before making his way around the bases, that player may be subject to a little chin music. A brush-back pitch, or a high fastball may greet that player the next time he stands in, and it will surprise no one. I don’t know what gets to me more, the fact that this goes on… or the fact that everyone accepts it?
The more egregious the behavior, the stiffer the penalty. Staring at a pitcher while rounding the bases and letting him know you took him deep, add a little something at home plate after the trot, and you might as well take your next at-bat dressed as a medieval knight. Forget chin music, you’re catching one square in the back if you’re lucky, maybe a little lower, or maybe a little higher if you’re not! All accepted behavior… but why?
Should it be an accepted practice for a pitcher to throw a hard baseball at a man standing sixty feet away from him? Pitchers can consistently reach speeds in the mid-to-high 90s (miles per hour), while a batter is stationary and defenseless. He’s also the least protected of the three standing at home plate, considering the catcher and the home plate umpire ARE dressed like medieval knights. Sure the hitter has a bat and helmet, but neither does much good when a 96mph fastball is hurled at the small of your back! I’ve never been a fan of pitchers throwing at batters, and the events between Boston’s Ryan Dempster and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees makes me hate the practice even more.
-Joseph Haas, HaasStyleInterpretations.com