Baseball, perhaps more so than any other sport, has an entire unwritten rulebook that players are supposed to follow. Every year, debates flare about whether these unwritten rules mean anything, or if they are just policing a player’s ability to have fun and do what’s best for them.
One specific unwritten rule is particularly out of touch with the spirit of the game. MLB teams continue to fight over it every year.
Why unwritten rules?
Rules are central to any sport. After all, players need to know what is and isn’t allowed, which bats they can use, and what they can do while running bases or fielding hits.
The unwritten rules, however, are a little bit murkier, according to Bleacher Report. They are not rules as much as suggestions. Depending on who’s asked, they are either vital parts of the game or mindless distractions.
Baseball entered a gray area of rules with the recent scandals regarding the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox sign-stealing. This went above and beyond typical unwritten rules into the realm of gaining an unfair advantage. Teams weren’t just stealing signs; they used technology to actively relay the information.
What are these unwritten rules?
Some of these unwritten rules seem like common sense. Don’t swing the bat on the first pitch unless you’re certain to hit it. Don’t swing at 3-0 just because you have the advantage. Don’t do anything that could put your teammates in danger.
Other rules, however, are more about etiquette or superstition. Don’t talk about a no-hitter or perfect game until it’s in the books. Don’t talk to the pitcher who’s throwing a no-hitter. Don’t bunt the ball just to break up a no-hitter. One of the major unwritten rules, do not flip the bat, is constantly pitting hitters against pitchers and clearing benches in the process.
These rules are the ones that can start fights if broken. But they can also be viewed as archaic policing of fun. One rule, however, may be the strangest of them all.
Running up the score
Strangely, some pro athletes do take poor performances and blame their opponents. Running up the score has been one of the great debates of sportsmanship at nearly every level. Coaches at school levels have been fired after accusations of doing so. And athletes complain when they believe a team is doing it to them.
The idea of running up the score, however, does not make sense in a world where players are supposed to give 100%, according to Bat Flips & Nerds.
Baseball games can be lopsided affairs, but these sides can be evened out with the slightest thing going right. When a player tries to hit it out of the park with a big lead, he’s not necessarily running up the score; he’s offering insurance.
Why we shouldn’t care about this baseball rule
Teams across baseball have come back from double-digit deficits. In a league where so few teams make it to the postseason, teams should never get complacent with a lead. If a team suddenly pumps the brakes when their effort got them a lead, they should not be punished for doing so.
A pitcher has to work hard and fielders must be prepared for whatever a team unleashes. If a team has a scoring flurry in a game, however, it should not go on the team who made it happen, but the ones who allowed the opponents to score as often as they did.
Teams should do everything in their power to erase this unwritten rule. Perhaps they should replace it with one that states the importance of playing defense and preventing opponents from reaching home.
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