Baseball Etiquette: 5 Rules for Being a Gentleman on the Field
Baseball is not a contact sport, that is, unless you want it to be. However, to keep it classy out there on the field, it's necessary to make as little violent physical contact as possible. Here are some rules that most baseball players follow on a day-to-day basis, yet there are still some rogue men who need reminding about how to be gentlemen while partaking in America's pastime.
Above, umpire Gary Darling spits his gum out on Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine to get him to stop jumping up and down in front of him.
Don't Run Across the Pitcher's Mound
A pitcher's mound is his personal space, and there is no reason to disrespect him by invading his area.
When A-Rod pranced over Dallas Braden's mound in 2010, the A's pitcher was outraged by the Yankee third baseman's lack of respect.
"I don't care if I'm Cy Young or the 25th man on the roster, if I've got the ball in my hand and I'm on that mound, that's my mound," Braden said after the incident.
Some players don't see a problem with this unwritten rule, but there's no reason to run over the mound when you can avoid it by a wide margin.
Bottom line, there is plenty of room around the mound, so stay on the grass.
Don't Show Up the Pitcher After a Home Run
This includes staring at the pitcher, watching your home run soar over the fence and taking your sweet time sauntering to first base.
Carlos Guillen showboated by staring down Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and taking a slow roll to first base after hitting a home run off of him last season. It was the second time in the game a member of the Tigers showboated like this, as Magglio Ordonez did the same thing after his two-run homer a few innings before.
Weaver was less than pleased with this show of disrespect, saying, “I'm not just going to go out there and take that. I'm a competitor and, like I said, I'm not going out there trying to show anybody up. Never have. If that's the way they want to play the game, then that's what it is. But I just didn't appreciate it too much." Nor would any other pitcher in that situation.
Nothing good will come from making eye contact with the pitcher who delivered your home run pitch as you start your trot. He knows you just cranked one, and there's no reason to rub it in. Let the score do the talking and act like you've done this before.
Don't Intentionally Throw at the Head
Ever. Not cool. Headhunting is bush league at its lowest, and there is no excuse for it.
Jered Weaver's breach of decorum shown above was retaliation for the aforementioned showboating, but that doesn't make this acceptable. When his anger reached a peak after Guillen rubbed the home run in his face, Weaver threw his next pitch at Alex Avila's head. Weaver was subsequently ejected and suspended because, while he didn't exactly bean him, this was obviously intentional.
Even though players wear helmets, they don't offer proper protection from a 90 mph pitch, as evidenced by Sammy Sosa's experience. Simply, the head is way off limits.
Pitchers: Don't Chastise Your Fielders
Although this doesn't happen as often as other on-field faux pas, the occasional tantrum by a pitcher when one of his teammates makes an error and ruins his hard work on the mound occurs in tight spots.
Sure, it's devastating when one of your infielders makes an error to ruin your perfect game in the eighth inning, but showing your anger and frustration by yelling at him in such a public setting is never necessary.
The personal embarrassment is punishment enough and think of how it would feel if all of your teammates threw their arms up at you every time you gave up a grand slam after they had just rallied to give you a three-run lead to work with. Yeah, it's demoralizing.
Keep your cool under the pressure of bobbled balls or bad calls because this will make you look like a class act instead of a jerk. And you may even be rewarded for your composure with a Medal of Reasonableness like Armando Galarraga. We all wish we could be that forgiving.
Don't Slide with Your Spikes Up
The reasoning behind this rule is pretty obvious, especially in the situation shown above from 2008 when Yankees first baseman Shelley Duncan slid spikes first into Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura.
Duncan claimed he was trying to break up a double-play, but many speculate this was retaliation for a Tampa player colliding with Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli in a previous game and ended with Cervelli suffering a fractured wrist. A benches-clearing brawl ensued after the incident above, and Duncan was ejected for his slide.
Even though Akinori only suffered a small cut on his leg, this kind of slide, a favorite of Ty Cobb, can do much worse and can seriously injure the infielder. There are better ways to stick it to him, like beating him to the bag.