The 7 Deadly Unwritten Sins of Baseball
Every sport has their own set of unwritten sins. In football it's a left tackle not helping their quarterback up after a blindside sack. In hockey, it's not giving the goalie your stick after his breaks.
But no sport has more unwritten rules than baseball.
In most big league clubhouses you can find a kangaroo court trial being held every so often, namely for breaking some rules on their long list of no-no’s. Just like in our judicial system, some laws carry a higher punishment than others, and this list of the seven deadliest sins is something all ballplayers should try to avoid.
7. Stepping on the Pitchers Mound
Alright to be honest, I had no idea this was a cardinal sin until Dallas Braden went postal on A-Rod for stepping on the mound on the way back to the visitor’s dugout. Since this is the most recent episode of “mound stomping,” I figured I should include this here based on the fact that Braden went on to throw a perfect game later that month.
Hey, if you’re going to fuel up a guy to the point where he throws a perfect game, I might not want to toy with him.
6. Stepping on the Baseline
Is this out of respect for the grounds keeping crew, or just another universal superstition? For many ballplayers, this becomes a habit when you take a jog out to your position, and stepping on the powder would just leave a bad feeling in your gut for some accusers.
You’re unlikely to get burnt at the stake for this one, but it’s still one of the oldest traditions that you just can’t break.
5. Not Hustling, No Matter Where the Ball Is Hit
Somewhere around the month of July, you see a lot of big leaguers commit this crime after a lazily hit grounder. In some cases, like former Detroit Tiger first baseman Sean Casey, it can lead to an embarrassment that will always be pinned on your career.
“The Mayor,” if you recall, made his infamous blooper by hitting a line drive to third base, and walked back to the dugout thinking Joe Crede caught it. To Casey’s dismay the ball wasn’t snagged, and on his way back to the dugout Casey was pegged out at first from the throw of left fielder Pablo Ozuna.
Remember kids, always hustle.
4. Making Your First or Last out at Third Base
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This one is for all you baseball junkies. To the newcomer, this may not make much sense, because getting thrown out anywhere is bad, right? Well yes, it is, but getting hosed at third for the first or last out is the equivalent of your car breaking down to start your vacation, or just minutes away from your destination. Let me explain.
If you’re out at third base, odds are that you would have been standing on second safely, and this could be with either no outs or one out, a perfect situation. When the third base ump pumps his fist to signal an out, you take away your team's chance of having a runner on second with no out, or two outs.
So basically what I’m trying to say here as an aspiring little league manager is you lose your best chances at third base, so kids, you better be safe.
3. Diving for a Ball in the Outfield, and Missing the Catch
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When you’re diving after a ball hit to you in the outfield, you’re thinking one of two things: “This is going to look so sick on SportsCenter” or “I am so screwed if I miss this.”
Now let’s say thought number two happens. The reason you don’t want to go back to the dugout after the inning is because you know that more than likely a coach will be waiting for you with steam coming out of his ears.
When you botch a dive attempt, you can really put your team in a bad position by letting the hitter get an extra base or having base runners cross home plate while the ball is rolling ten, twenty and now thirty-some feet behind you. The more runners on base and the worst backup help you get from the other outfielder, the worst your hearing will be the next morning after the skipper blasts you with his words.
2. Pulling Back Your Bat on a Suicide Squeeze
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In the eyes of a manager, this is considered a hanging sentence. This is wrong on three levels nobody wants to be on, as seen below:
1. It basically shows the coach, your teammates and yourself that you lost your focus somewhere between the 60.5 foot flight of the ball, which no one wants to see.
2. You leave your teammate in a very awkward position by either throwing him in a desperation pickle, or just standing in front of the catcher with a helpless look in his eyes.
3. You really messed up a great scoring opportunity for your team who is not happy with you.
1. Saying the Words "No Hitter" or Talking to the Pitcher During a No Hitter
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If this isn't the No. 1 superstition in all of sports, than I don't know what is.
This no-speak law not only goes to people in the dugout, but anyone witnessing the history go down. I can't even begin to count how many times I've heard an announcer say "(Insert pitcher here) has a no-hitter going into the seventh!" and then twenty seconds into coverage see a liner hit to the outfield.
During Justin Verlander's no-no in 2007, Detroit Tiger radio announcer Dan Dickerson broadcasted the iconic moment the textbook way. Some lines he dropped over the airwaves were "And the line is no run, no hits, and no errors for the Brewers in the sixth inning" or "The Brewers are looking to get their first hit in this eighth inning." Come on people, how hard is that?
Omission: Bunting When a Pitcher Has a No-Hitter Going
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Various commenters have reminded me about one of the most unspeakable sins of baseball, and I have to say I don't know how I missed this one, it definitely deserves to be on the list.
Bunting for a base hit to destroy a no-hitter is like...bunting for a base hit to destroy a no-hitter. There just isn't a sports analogy that would show how filthy this play is. A pitcher has been grinding out six or seven innings of perfect baseball, for example, and you're telling me there are people out there that want to stop history in the most "bush league" way possible?
Seriously, there is no way to ruin a no-hitter that would be worse than trying to hit a dribbler down the third base line, it's borderline sinister. I'm all for coming out swinging or changing in the batter's box to avoid embarrassment, but come on, bunting? No way.