For the past seven years I’ve been rolling my eyes, in writing anyway, at baseball’s unwritten rules and its hilariously complicated and, often, contradictory standards of decorum. There may be some consistency about when it’s OK to celebrate/be angry, when it’s not OK to celebrate/be angry and who, actually, has standing to celebrate/be angry, but if there is any it has eluded description. These guys just seem to make it all up based on who has a case of the redass at any given time and then claim, in hindsight, that there are traditions and rules behind it. Hey, it’s their sport. They can do what they wanna.
A new wrinkle was added to the Grand Conversation last night: getting upset about an unwritten rule being violated because you had no idea what was actually going on.
It happened in the Jays-Rays game. The Rays’ Steven Souza ended the game with a long flyout that he stood and admired because he thought it was a homer. When he realized it wasn’t he offered apologetic words to Jays catcher Russell Martin, who he thought was criticizing him for admiring his shot. Turns out Martin wasn’t mad at all. Indeed, he thought it was a homer too and was agreeing with Souza about being deceived. Souza just couldn’t hear Martin due to the crowd noise.
Over at shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who could not have possibly heard the conversation, assumed that Souza and Martin were arguing about the ethics of shot-admiring and started barking at Souza, causing benches to clear and people to act chippy, even if nothing came of it. It’s unclear whether or not Tulo himself thought Souza was admiring his shot too long or if, rather, he was merely trying to protect his teammate’s back in an argument. It’s unclear because Tulo didn’t talk to reporters after the game, leaving that to Martin. Which is itself an unwritten rules violation, I am told, but we’ll leave that slide.
All of which makes for a perfect microcosm of the unwritten rules and baseball’s dumb honor culture:
1. Be humble lest you make someone mad; but
2. Sometimes, being celebratory isn’t going to make anyone mad, you never know!;
3. Have your teammate’s back, no matter what you know of the situation and no matter how dumb doing so makes you look; and
4. Be accountable and talk to the press about the bad thing you did, unless you don’t want to, and then it’s probably OK. At least if you’re not the sort of player people are mad at for other stuff or if they generally think you’re an OK guy.
This isn’t that hard people!
(h/t Big League Stew)