All sports have some kind of unwritten rules among players, whether it’s not being allowed to take liberties with other teams star players, needing to fight when you make a dirty hit in hockey, or giving possession back to a team after they kick it out of bounds to have an injured player be looked at in soccer. All of these rules have something in common, they all make sense. This is much unlike some of the unwritten rules in baseball.
Recently, baseball seems to be split for those who support the unwritten rules and those who think they are outdated and hurt the growth of the game. Count me in for the second group, and I will tell you why.
The latest controversy in baseball involves Yermin Mercedes, the Chicago White Sox rookie going deep on a 3-0 count with his team up by 11 runs. Apparently, some people believe that baseball players who play the game professionally should stop trying their hardest depending on the situation of a game, something that White Sox manager Tommy La Russa seems to agree with for some reason.
“That’s just sportsmanship, respect for the game, respect for your opponent,” La Russa said. “He made a mistake, so there will be a consequence that he has to endure here within our family.”
The Twins weren’t too happy that Mercedes actually tried to hit the ball in a plate appearance where their pitcher was Willians Astudillo, an infielder. The very next night, the Twins exacted their revenge, throwing behind Mercedes as some kind of punishment for taking the game of baseball seriously (unlike the Twins were with a position player on the mound). Both Tyler Duffey and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was ejected from the game, but that didn’t stop La Russa from once again speaking out against his own players.
“I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled that,” La Russa said.
For La Russa to believe these things is one thing, but for him to publicly come out and speak against his own player is wrong. Managers are supposed to stick up for their own players, and all Mercedes did was play the game the only way he knows how to.
“I’m going to play like that,” said Mercedes. “I’m Yermin. I can’t be another person because if I’m changing, everything is going to (be) changing. Everything was good. Some of my teammates just talked with me. Just be relaxed, everything was good, everything was good, just do you. We’re good.”
“He’s not going to do that again,” La Russa said. “I heard he says something like I played my game, but no, he doesn’t. He plays the game of Major League Baseball that respects the game, respects the opponents, and that was not (it). And he’s got to respect the signs. When he gets the take sign, he takes.”
“The fact that he’s a rookie and was excited helps explain why he just was clueless,” La Russa said. “But now he’s got a clue.”
The entire situation is absolute garbage. You play to win the game, you swing the bat to get hits, and you go up to the plate looking to do damage every single time, no matter if you are up 15-4 or you are down 2-1. If the Twins were so concerned about Mercedes hitting a home run at the end of this game, they should have had a pitcher on the mound. It is a loser’s mentality to expect the other team to just let you strike them out because you don’t want your feelings hurt. What’s next? The mercy rule? Capping innings at five runs so everyone gets a turn hitting? No, this is professional baseball, grow up. If you want an out, earn it.
Many MLB players offered up their thoughts about the situation.
Let’s move to another topic that has been talked about ad nauseam in baseball for the past five or six years, the bat flip. A player hits a massive home run, either for the moment of the game or the distance of the dinger and tosses their bat in some manner that people (mostly the traditionalists) find offensive.
But, who didn’t love Jose Bautista’s iconic flip in the ALDS against the Texas Rangers other than the Rangers and their fans?
There are times where bat flips are acceptable and there are times where they are not. Had Mercedes bat flipped after hitting his home run, then there could have been a conversation about showing the other team up, but a bat flip alone or a home run in a blowout game shouldn’t be frowned upon.
Things like this get the younger generations into baseball. No matter what you think of young people today, baseball needs to get them interested in order for the sport to survive. The NFL and NBA have done a fantastic job at this and MLB needs to figure it out. At the end of the day, baseball’s unwritten rules are a bad thing for the sport.