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Thread: Unwritten Rules are Not Smart

  1. #121
    Twins Moderator MVP USAFChief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    You keep saying that but there really is nothing to support that. Every single sport has some form of retaliation for both real and perceived slights. Baseball is a bit different than Hockey, Basketball and Football in that it doesn't really have penalties during a playy or normally physical contact so the policing is a bit different.But in any event, nothing Machado did was supported by the unwritten rules (in fact, it could be clearly argued that, had Machado had a better understanding of the rules, some of this stuff wouldn't have happened).
    It's not just every other sport. Every walk of life has unwritten "rules" that help facilitate human interaction. They generally work well. That sometimes people don'tfollow them, or take them to extremes, is no reason to rail against them.
    Every post is not every other post. - a wise man

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  3. #122
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
    It's not just every other sport. Every walk of life has unwritten "rules" that help facilitate human interaction. They generally work well. That sometimes people don'tfollow them, or take them to extremes, is no reason to rail against them.
    I've often found myself in situations in which unwritten rules involve someone hurling something at me as hard as they can for any slight perception of disrespect.

    Boy do staplers hurt! And don't get me started about how it's ok for people to ram their car into things for getting cut off!

  4. #123
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    And the spot on reply.
    From that article:

    Step away from the ballpark for a moment and you’ll find little difference between the guy who gets upset at being inadvertently bumped in the supermarket and the pitcher who gets upset when an opponent digs in against him in the batter’s box. They’re both *******s; it’s just that one of them has a professional outlet with which to deliver his *******ry.
    I'm sorry, did I miss the memo that said it's ok to turn, at the supermarket, pick up a coconut, and hurl it at someone's ribcage? Because unless we've all agreed to that and I missed it, this analogy falls apart. As does the whole argument.

  5. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    I'm sorry, did I miss the memo that said it's ok to turn, at the supermarket, pick up a coconut, and hurl it at someone's ribcage? Because unless we've all agreed to that and I missed it, this analogy falls apart. As does the whole argument.
    And the very next paragraph:
    "But that guy is an outlier—a reason not tolove the Code. He seizes on an institutional framework to further his own emotionally fragile goals, and becomes an easy target for critics. Some players enforce things the wrong way, and some players get upset over things that should not realistically upset them, but that’s not so different than the rest of the world. The mainstream of players who abide by the Code do it properly, and with reservation. We are, after all, a society of reasonable people."

  6. #125
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    And the very next paragraph:
    "But that guy is an outlier—a reason not tolove the Code. He seizes on an institutional framework to further his own emotionally fragile goals, and becomes an easy target for critics. Some players enforce things the wrong way, and some players get upset over things that should not realistically upset them, but that’s not so different than the rest of the world. The mainstream of players who abide by the Code do it properly, and with reservation. We are, after all, a society of reasonable people."
    Except the analogy doesn't work. In the supermarket analogy that guy gets arrested and prosecuted. In baseball it's acceptable to start a brawl or throw a pitch at someone. It's certainly not prosecuted in any court of law I've heard of.

    Here's another way to look at it: the difference is that baseball's unwritten rules JUSTIFY getting upset and doing something about it. In the rest of society we look at the person getting upset and tell them to lighten up and grow up. The analogy listed talks about how someone feels. In baseball we're talking about justifying actions, which in no way, shape, or form is allowed anywhere else in society without legal ramifications.

    So I'm just doing what the rest of society does - looks at the guy in the supermarket and tells him to grow up. Precisely what I'm telling baseball to do.

  7. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    Straight from the mouth of McCarthy:

    Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy asks, "But aren't there unwritten rules in every industry? In journalism, you can't steal sources, right? In hockey, guys don't take their skates off and slash an opponent's throat with the blade. In football, you never see a guy take off his helmet and just bludgeon an opponent. We've been playing baseball since the 1800s. We just have more unwritten rules."
    He could not have made a better argument AGAINST his own position. When you have to reach to depths like that to make a parallel, it shows just how absurd the notion that these things exist elsewhere. The unwritten rules are not just common decency and respect, they go WAY beyond that. All he could come up with was extreme examples that better illustrate how absurd baseball is.
    I'm part entertained, part frightened at the notion that it is only hockey's unwritten rules that keep players from slashing each other's throats with skate blades.

  8. #127
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beemo View Post
    I'm part entertained, part frightened at the notion that it is only hockey's unwritten rules that keep players from slashing each other's throats with skate blades.
    He's a baseball player desperately reaching for some kind of parallel or analogy. What he doesn't realize is that none exists, so that's why his examples are so preposterous.

  9. #128
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    I’ve been lurking for a couple of years and finally registered this season. I guess this is the thread that’s inspired me to post my first. The thread is up to about seven pages now, and I have to admit to not reading every post all the way through, so this might be redundant. But I think my response is general and relevant to sentiment and theme, so I’ll go ahead.

    Before I continue, I’d like to say that I love this site. The daily minor league reports are my favorite. I used to have to click around all over the place to find information that is presented here in one report. I really appreciate the metrics and mechanics analysis of the regular writers, which take serious time and real understanding. And while comment threads on most sports sites are full of revolting vitriol and varying degrees of illiteracy, here I rarely even find myself annoyed and often pleasantly entertained. And how lucky have we been with AJ Peterson posting regularly from MiLB- sad to see him hang it up. It seems to me like a lot of writers and posters here were serious ball players at one point in their lives, which really makes a positive difference in the reporting and conversation.

    So that being said, I have to say I’ve been a little bit surprised by some of the opinions regarding the “unwritten rules” of baseball- those opinions calling for doing away with them. This is very hard to even imagine; how the league could police an institutional elimination of the “unwritten rules”. It would be messy, yes? And as they say, bad for baseball. I don’t really care for the extent to which they have already done this with ejections and suspensions for players involved in intentional or perceived intentional HBP incidents. It doesn’t really even seem to have impacted the frequency of said occurrences (perhaps there are stats for this?). Getting hit with a fastball sucks. Seeing your teammate get hit with a fastball because of something you did sucks more. That’s good enough self-policement for me.

    I am always surprised when I hear or read of people being confused by the unwritten rules. I think they are obvious to anyone who played the game beyond middle school level. I think there is a general idea behind them, but it is difficult to effectively articulate, and so attempts at clarification always end up lengthy explanations of specific incidents. If you have seen or experienced enough of these incidents though, the interpretation of the specifically applicable unwritten rule is always clear. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN had a thorough, albeit somewhat naïve in presentation, article recently that included some clips of big leaguers (Adam Wainwright and Dan Uggla) explaining specific unwritten rules and how they applied in recent incidents (Carlos Gomez in Atlanta last year and against Pittsburgh this).

    I think, obviously, that while rule interpretation may always- or almost always- be clear in hindsight, the emotional/physical/mental intensity of the game in the moment makes clear, on-sight interpretation by players/managers/umps difficult, and that’s why brawls and bench clearings occur. There is much to enjoy in the game, as a fan and player- kicking back with a premium under the lights of the stadium awaiting first pitch, the purity of roping line-drives in bp, etc.- but it is the intensity of the game that really sets it apart- explosive athletic feats, the suspense of the full-count with runners on, the mental guessing game at the plate, etc. I think policing that occurs off the field or with use of technology is bad for the game because it reduces the intensity both for the player and the fan. The use of instant replay certainly falls under this condemnation- though it be a whole other can of worms.

    In the incident sparking this thread- between Oakland and Houston, this is what I think: Porter was peeved at being down seven in the first, and his response was to that- not the bunt attempt. The bunt attempt was just an excuse to blow off steam and yell at the opponent. These guys are professionals and colleagues and I think they have each others’ respect, but they’re lifelong athletes, not college professors. If Porter was really reacting to what he thinks is an unwritten rule violation, then he was/is wrong. It wasn’t a violation of an unwritten rule. As many have pointed out here already, Houston is certainly capable of scoring more than seven runs in a game, just ask the Twins yesterday. And that’s really enough to justify the play by Lowrie. I really like the point someone brought up about the effect the play had not only on that game but on future games and future shift considerations.

    In my opinion, shifts are kind of a ninny move. I get it, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and there is nothing more gratifying than seeing a hitter beat a shift, even if by bunt. I’m not a believer in bunting either, except maybe in this case and the occasional squeeze. The sac is a gift to the defense.

    I think the greatest misunderstanding of unwritten rules is when people have the idea that the players expect each other to follow them in the same way they expect each other to follow the written rules. They know there will be violations and retaliations and that’s part of it all. Mostly you’re respectful, but sometimes you want to stick it in the other guy’s eye a little. It’s baseball, not tea with the queen.

    In regards to pimping home runs: Until this season, I had never seen anyone pimp a triple off the wall, and we got to see it twice with GoGo and Oz. I have to say that Arcia’s was the better since in his previous plate appearance he pimped a long flyout to center in the exact same spot the triple landed- plus he was wearing the ski mask. I love Gomez and Arcia. I wish we still had Gomez, even pre breakout Gomez. Those two plus Rosario when he comes up in the OF and El Bocaton Miguel Angel, talk about swag. Anyway, pimping jacks is awesome. Pimping triples off the wall is even better. And fairly, retaliation is awesome too- not I wanna injure you retaliation, but send a message retaliation.

    Well, I know this has been a long post. Hopefully I haven’t violated any unwritten rules concerning rookies around here, haha. Now that I’ve got my feet wet, maybe I’ll become a regular.

    PS I feel I should identify myself as a fan of Mauer and would never disparage or boo him, though I do think he should try to get more dingers and RBIs. What you know about that?

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  11. #129
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Great post Sam! Here's my caution for where this unravels for me:

    These guys are professionals and colleagues and I think they have each others’ respect, but they’re lifelong athletes, not college professors.
    Unwritten rules basically excuse stupid people to do stupid things. That's kind of my point. The only level at which unwritten rules works at all is at the very loose tie to being respectful to other humans. These aren't unwritten, they're just social norms and people confuse them to be the same thing. The unwritten rules justify absurd behavior in response to perceived slights but with no consistency and completely arbitrary enforcement and interpretation.

  12. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    Here's another way to look at it: the difference is that baseball's unwritten rules JUSTIFY getting upset and doing something about it. In the rest of society we look at the person getting upset and tell them to lighten up and grow up. The analogy listed talks about how someone feels. In baseball we're talking about justifying actions, which in no way, shape, or form is allowed anywhere else in society without legal ramifications.
    That's just silly. In every sport there is retaliation. A hockey player can (and often do) punch another human being in the face, in violation of the rules of hockey, and merely gets sent to a bench for a few minutes. My guess is you are completely ok with that assault.

    The unwritten rules of baseball (and every sport) deal with how to act - very little of it is "assaults." (And nothing Machado did is covered or protected by the rules) It tells hitters that they shouldn't swing away on a 3-0 pitch with a 10 run lead. Don't let an opposing player fall down the dugout steps chasing a pop fly. It sets up kangaroo courts in locker rooms to police player actions. Sometimes, a pitcher will throw a warning pitch at an opposing player. Very rarely, a pitcher will hit someone. Even rarer, benches will clear. And far less often than in football and hockey, someone might throw a punch.

  13. #131
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    That's just silly. In every sport there is retaliation. A hockey player can (and often do) punch another human being in the face, in violation of the rules of hockey, and merely gets sent to a bench for a few minutes. My guess is you are completely ok with that assault.
    I wish hockey would do away with fighting, it's unnecessary. Again, however, fighting is a penalty. Bunting in the seventh inning is legal as far as I know. Unless you know something I don't.

    The unwritten rules of baseball (and every sport) deal with how to act - very little of it is "assaults."
    Very simple question, do baseball players frequently use unwritten rules to start brawls or throw pitches at other players?

    (And nothing Machado did is covered or protected by the rules)
    Except that's open to interpretation. The other 24 guys on his club backed him up. This is what happens when your rules are arbitrary and built around being offended by nonsense. Just about anything can be nonsense you get offended by.

    All of this, mind you, is completely irrelevant to the flawed analogy you keep defending. The guy in the supermarket can "feel" however he wants. In baseball they have systemetized, via the unwritten rules, a means of justifying acting aggressively towards another human based on those feelings.

    There is certainly more physicality in football and hockey...they're physical sports. But could you please count up all the times a hockey player celebrated a goal and had a puck thrown at him? Or an NFL player celebrated a TD and had the ball thrown at him? Or perhaps how many times you've watched a disgruntled supermarket shopper hurl a coconut at someone for being bumped into and people thought it was acceptable.

    This year in baseball alone I think we're up to 5 instances of this behavior. And those are just the heavily reported ones. Let's keep this apples to apples please, you've had a lot of trouble with that.

  14. #132
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    I’m not particularly interested in using analogies or outside-of-baseball comparisons to justify the presence of the unwritten rules, or even comparisons to other sports.

    A few commenters have picked on a Brandon McCarthy quote which attempted to do this. Analogies and comparison are messy and in McCarthy’s case actually distracted from a strong point he made- that the unwritten rules have precedence, tradition in a game that is around 150 years old.

    In my mind, baseball is a world unto itself, a world of intense physical/mental/emotional competition. The behavioral schemas that govern baseball are different and not analogous to those that govern ordinary social existence- mostly due to the physical and competitive elements of the game. TheLeviathan suggests that players involved in incidents involving unwritten rule violation or retaliation are behaving stupidly. Against the standards of normal society, yes; within the context of the game, no. The game is physical; actions are physical and consequences are physical. I think this is appropriate in moderation.

    The unwritten rules are one of the many poetic elements of the game that make it so exceptional. Balance is maintained in a way we will never enjoy in normal life. Justice is direct, proportionate, and swift. Revenge is fundamental to human nature and we will likely never know it in our day to day lives- for obvious prudent reasons- but can indulge in it from week to week on the diamond in its virtually ritualized form.

    I hope, here, that I am not sounding like a former NFL player turned TV analyst making excuses for the appalling behavior apparently present in football locker rooms via ‘culture difference’. In that case, the culture may very well be different, but it is also wrong, and should be confronted. I don’t think that the established, known behaviors of baseball players in unwritten rule situations is wrong. You could easily call it silly or absurd, but following those lines, you could say the same about grown men playing a game for millions of dollars.

    I accept and enjoy both absurdities alike.

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  16. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    Very simple question, do baseball players frequently use unwritten rules to start brawls or throw pitches at other players?
    No. And baseball has very few of both.

    Most brawls start b/c of bad blood between the two teams.

    At the end of this, I just can't see your point. It's hypocritical of you to lay this at baseball's feet and ignore how often it happens in other sports. Especially when other sports - football and hockey - are much more violent and much more likely to lead to real injuries. (In fact, I'm not sure you've been able to find any real injuries that should be blamed on the rules). As I and other posters have pointed out, unwritten rules exist in all other sports (and elsewhere).

    And, more importantly, I think, is how the unwritten rules add something to the game. It makes rivalries better - Hunter crashing into the White Sox catcher really made the Twins/Sox series entertaining a decade ago. As Sam pointed out, there's something poetic in the idea of rules both changing and lasting through generations.

  17. #134
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    Most brawls start b/c of bad blood between the two teams.
    And much of that bad blood stems from invented slights.

    At the end of this, I just can't see your point. It's hypocritical of you to lay this at baseball's feet and ignore how often it happens in other sports.
    You keep saying these things but when I ask for examples - you can't come up with any. In the NFL - does being up by 21 mean you can't throw 20 yard passes anymore? In hockey do they stop making two line passes when up by 4? Or stop checking when they are up by 6? In the NFL do guys just finishing a sack dance get attacked for celebrating their accomplishment?

    And nowhere in the real world do we allow jerks to take perceived slights and act on them violently or aggressively. We put people in jail for that and think of them as clowns. In baseball, the clown behavior is justified by the unwritten rules. That's what they are - arbitrary exemptions to feel butthurt about nothing.

    As Sam pointed out, there's something poetic in the idea of rules both changing and lasting through generations.
    You're describing a cultish way of thinking. I find nothing poetic about it. I certainly find no poetry in a guy eating a 90 mph pitch because he had the audacity to try and bunt for a hit.

  18. #135
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Against the standards of normal society, yes; within the context of the game, no. The game is physical; actions are physical and consequences are physical.
    Except baseball is not physical. I only condone this kind of behavior if, in a physical interaction, there is something done wrong. Like steamrolling a catcher, spiking a 2B, throwing something at someone, etc. But these are exceedingly rare.

    Otherwise the behavior just remains stupid. The unwritten rules are (and you see this in the player comments in Kurkjian's piece) designed to ADD physicality to a game without any. Basically, they exist to allow baseball players to be violent when they otherwise would have no reason to be.

    Violence is inherent in football and hockey, it has to be concocted by macho softies to exist in baseball. So it doesn't get to escape the loop of stupidity it is founded on. If you want more proof of that - go read everything Johnny Gomes says in the Kurkjian article in defense of them.

  19. #136
    Twins Moderator MVP USAFChief's Avatar
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    If we accept the premise that "unwritten rules" are bad for baseball, what is your proposed solution?

    Should any pitcher who hits a batter, ever, be suspended? If so, for how long?

    Should there be a rule on the MLB rule book specifically stating there are no other rules?

    What is the end game here, and how do you get there?
    Every post is not every other post. - a wise man

  20. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    You keep saying these things but when I ask for examples - you can't come up with any. In the NFL - does being up by 21 mean you can't throw 20 yard passes anymore? In hockey do they stop making two line passes when up by 4? Or stop checking when they are up by 6? In the NFL do guys just finishing a sack dance get attacked for celebrating their accomplishment?
    ??? You don't think players take things into their own hands in football for (perceived) slights/insults? Christ, football players have pools for knocking other players out of the game and were willing to break the rules (and the law) to do so. Teams set up plays so wide receivers can cut block *******s on the other team. Hockey players have hit each other with deadly weapons b/c they are mad at each other.

    Do you think that football doesn't have unwritten rules about running up scores? Sure they do. And when teams break those rules the opponents get angry, fights start and the next game (if they play again) are usually chippy.

    The rules are a simple code of conduct on how to play the game - every sport has them, frankly probably every work place has them. You seem to be bothered that, in baseball, the rules will sometimes allow a pitcher to hit a batter with a pitch. Fine (although earlier in this thread you said you were ok with it in some circumstances). Every sport has physical violent ramifications to actions - many of them perceived slights, some merely the rules of the game. The NBA used to have a no-free pass layup rule and that lead to one of the leagues signature moments when Kevin McHale assaulted Kurt Rambis on national TV. People wax poetically of those times.

    I'm sure you'll argue that football players pushing and hitting after the whistle are also breaking the law (and are actually far more likely to cause real injuries).

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    I think on both sides of this debate there is a frustrating lack of specific example. And even if a specific example is provided it can too easily be dismissed as an outlier or exception. It would be interesting to document and analyze incidents involving unwritten rules violations/retaliations throughout the remainder of the season. I would be primarily interested in the rate of resultant injury, but also in the impact of ejection and suspension.

    I hypothesize that the rate of resultant injury will not be significant, and will not justify MLB’s current liberal use of ejection and suspension, let alone further policement measures.

    I can at least appreciate arguments against the unwritten rules shenanigans if they are rooted in concerns for player safety. TheLeviathan, I’m not sure if this is the case with your point of view. I assume it is to a degree but it seems to me mostly that you just don’t like the unwritten rules on the grounds that they are somewhat silly or absurd. I think you make many sound points, but for me, in this case, tradition dictates. I think a lot of casual fans of the game probably agree with you, and sometimes it seems to me like the sports media agrees with you. I think, unfortunately, that these are influential voices, and I tend to worry that they will sound loud enough for MLB to take action. I think this happened with instant replay and home plate obstruction rules (whatever they are, exactly, now).

    I’m curious to hear what others on this site think regarding this notion in general, but also specific to the debate here. To what extent do the public voice and sports media affect these types of MLB decisions?

  22. #139
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    ??? You don't think players take things into their own hands in football for (perceived) slights/insults? Christ, football players have pools for knocking other players out of the game and were willing to break the rules (and the law) to do so. Teams set up plays so wide receivers can cut block *******s on the other team. Hockey players have hit each other with deadly weapons b/c they are mad at each other.
    I think the problem you're having is you don't even understand the fundamental piece about what an "unwritten" rule is. Any time I ask you for examples you list of vague, completely irrelevant points that do nothing else but say "Did you know physical stuff happens in physical sports?"

    The NBA used to have a no-free pass layup rule and that lead to one of the leagues signature moments when Kevin McHale assaulted Kurt Rambis on national TV. People wax poetically of those times.
    Um, that isn't an unwritten rule. Nor is physicality during a play that extends after a whistle anything to do with an unwritten rule.

    Perhaps you should go back to the 7-8 examples of apples to apples that would have to exist in other sports and find me a single example of that. The only time you got even close, even on the same planet as "bunting in the seventh requires a 90 mph baseball in the ribs" was football and running up the score.

    Except, when Belichek and (I believe) Keith Brooking both were subjects on this matter....it was largely laughed off by the populace as whining. Rightly so on the professional level.

  23. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
    Should any pitcher who hits a batter, ever, be suspended? If so, for how long?
    You're putting the cart before the horse. A lot of these suspensions exist because of the faulty notion that players police themselves effectively.

    How about, if there weren't unwritten rules and we behaved like adults, the batter would get hit, drop his bat, and trot to first without thinking the most grave atrocity to ever befall a human being has happened? It was just, you know, human error. Nothing to throw an adult tantrum about.

    I'd like to see passion in baseball not be so damned contrived. If your sport requires you to become a two year old over a bat flip to celebrate an accomplishment......then how sad for your sport. If the only way rivalries and passion can be forged is in inventing slights to hate other players for? How sad. It's a reflection of personal selfishness that YOUR butthurt over a hit by pitch or a tag to the gut or a bunt against your shift requires all-out warfare on the field.

    How about you drum up that energy just to win instead?
    Last edited by TheLeviathan; 06-10-2014 at 07:15 PM.

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