Joe Maddon plays by two sets of rules.
The interesting Tampa Bay Rays manager has never made any secret that he has no issue with players attempting to get a competitive advantage during baseball games. It should have been no surprise to anyone when he made his passionate post-game comments Tuesday night in support of his relief pitcher Joel Peralta after he was ejected for having pine tar in his glove.
Yes, by definition and major league baseball Rule 8.02 of the MLB official rulebook, a pitcher "shall not ... apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball." The rulebook states that the penalty for the infraction is, "The pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically."
If you haven't seen or heard Maddon's comments by now you can find the video here via Sun Sports.
Nobody should be surprised that he reacted that way. If you look at past events it is clear that he plays by a different set of rules that aren't written down in a formal rulebook.
Here are a few of those events that come to mind.
Remember when New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter faked the hit-by-pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in September 2010? Following the game, Jeter didn't think much of the incident and simply felt it was part of the game.
Although Rays manager Joe Maddon was ejected after arguing the call on the field with the umpire, his statements after the game showed how he felt about unwritten parts of the game.
"If our guys did it, I would have applauded that, too," Maddon said. "For me it was a ground ball back to the pitcher."
In February, Jonah Keri wrote an article for ESPN's Grantland.com about how doctoring baseballs appeared to be a thing of the past.
In the article, Keri quoted Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey about the reluctance to call an opposing player out in the article.
Hickey said he's talked more than once with Rays manager Joe Maddon about a pitcher they suspect might be cheating. But if Maddon asks an ump to inspect an opposing pitcher, he's inviting other teams to come back at his guys twice as hard. Even if James Shields or David Price or Matt Moore is found to be clean, getting frisked by an umpire in plain view of an entire stadium could break the pitcher's routine, maybe even leave him rattled. Not only that, "you don't want to be that unsportsmanlike guy who's calling people out," Hickey said.
Maddon understands what people in glass houses should and shouldn't do.
Earlier this season, Joe Maddon called out Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after what he felt was a violation of the unwritten rules of baseball when the Red Sox plunked Luke Scott without what Maddon felt was necessary provocation.
It will be interesting to see if there is the promised retaliation when the Red Sox visit the Tampa Bay Rays in July.