If you’re against unwritten rules, be against all unwritten rules

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Jon Morosi writes today that the calls for baseball to legalize pine tar or some other substance for pitchers in cold weather in the wake of the Michael Pineda incident are dumb:

So, because Pineda foolishly and brazenly flaunted baseball’s cold-weather code, Major League Baseball is supposed to tear up its rule book? . . . The Yankees have lost Pineda for 10 games, because they did a poor job of communicating baseball’s unwritten rules: You can’t use pine tar . . . but you actually can . . . everybody does it . . . you just need to be careful . . . it’s probably a good idea to rub it on your glove or belt loop so that the umpire and TV cameras can’t see.

Repeating myself from yesterday, I’m not sure how people are supposed to accept the directly conflicting ideas that (a) “there is absolutely nothing wrong with using pine tar and everyone else does it”; with (b) “by God, don’t let anyone see you doing it, you idiot!” It’s either wrong or it’s right, cheating or not, isn’t it? We can talk about how severe a case of cheating it is and whether it warrants big discipline or little discipline, but things are either allowed or they are not. If they are not, criticizing people for not being sneaky enough in doing it seems like a really dumb message.

And, in this case, a bit of an inconsistent one from Morosi, who has quite admirably advocated for doing way with baseball’s silly and antiquated “unwritten rules.” Indeed, just four days ago he quite wisely said that baseball needs to get over itself with the unwritten rules and dumb codes of respect some people have read into the game regarding bat-tossing, admiring home runs and on-field exuberance. Now he’s all for the same sort of silly code about how one does or does not properly break rules.

Of course, given the guy’s track record on consistency, perhaps I shouldn’t be all that surprised here.

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.