Alex Rodriguez running across Dallas Braden’s mound in Oakland got people talking about baseball’s so-called unwritten rules and they were on display again yesterday when the White Sox freaked out after the Marlins twice stole a base up 7-0 in the fourth inning. White Sox starter Freddy Garcia was responsible for allowing the seven runs before being chased from the game in the third inning, and had this to say afterward:
It’s 7-0, it’s not a good thing to steal a base. That’s no respect for the other team. Whatever happens happens, but it’s not showing respect. It’s 7-0 when you steal second and third. I think it’s bad baseball.
And here’s what manager Ozzie Guillen said:
I don’t know what happened there, but this is baseball. You have to respect [the other team]. I was up eight a couple of days ago. That’s the way we learn to play the game. We had to do something about it, and we did. We had to tell the guys not to play like that.
What the White Sox “did” was plunk one of the players who stole a base, Brett Carroll.
Here’s the thing, though: MLB teams come back from seven-run deficits in the early innings all the time, either to make it a one- or two-run game by the later innings or to actually pull off a comeback win. For the White Sox to say the Marlins should just close up shop in the fourth inning because they’re ahead 7-0 is absurd, particularly since it’s not as if the White Sox will stop doing everything they can to close the gap.
Plus, this isn’t little league or high school or even college. This is professional baseball, at the very highest level, played and managed by grown men making millions of dollars. If you want the other team to stop scoring, then pitch and defend better. Do you think Guillen would apologize to the Marlins if they ceased trying to tack on more runs and the White Sox ended up coming back to win the game? Of course not.
Paul Konerko thankfully stepped up as the voice of reason in the White Sox’s clubhouse afterward:
I don’t know. Everybody has a different opinion. We were still holding the guy on base. Usually unless you have a double-digit lead you [can] steal a base. [Carroll] was afraid not to go because he thought he missed a steal sign. That’s what he told me. But as far as the unwritten rule, if you ask five different guys you are going to get five different answers.
Exactly. The day seven-run leads in the fourth inning mean an automatic victory is the day an unwritten rule against teams trying to score more runs should be followed.