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A-Rod, Dallas Braden and baseball etiquette

Apr 23, 2010, 1:30 PM EDT

Alex Rodriguez mound incident.jpgWe talked about this one a bit already, but let’s go deeper.  Here’s Dallas Braden after l’affaire A-Rod-walky-over-the-moundy:

“The long and short of it is it’s pretty much baseball etiquette. He
should probably take a note from his captain over there, because you don’t run across
the pitcher’s mound in between an inning or during the game. I was just
dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind.”

And here was A-Rod’s response (see full video of his comments here):

“He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little
surprised. I’ve never quite heard that, especially from a guy that has a
handful of wins in his career. I’ve never even heard of that in my
career and I still don’t know. I thought it was pretty funny, actually.”

I wrote this morning that I had never heard of that particular unwritten rule. Since then, however, I’ve done a bit of Googling and read some stuff some other people have written and I think it’s safe to say that it’s at least a minor unwritten rule. It’s not up there with “don’t steal second when you have a 10-run lead” or “don’t go one-flap-down on your home run trot unless you’re Jeffrey Leonard,” but it exists. It may be a dumb rule — as so many of the unwritten rules are — but it’s a rule and ballplayers seem to care about such things.

Which causes A-Rod’s comments to ring hollow. That guy has been around baseball his whole life, so I’m assuming he’s heard of it.  He may or may not have walked across the mound with the intention of getting under Dallas Braden’s skin — maybe it was just a brain lock — but his response was truly intended to.

The “handful of wins” line was particularly egregious. As a person who occasionally gets ripped because he doesn’t have the background and experience many others do in this business, it hits a little close to home. I hate it when guys make irrelevant appeals to authority like that. I’m guessing everyone on the Athletics team, all of whom are younger than Rodriguez, hate it too.  It’s probably going to get A-Rod a ball in the back the next time these teams face each other. Which will set off a whole other set of unwritten rule compliance and analysis, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

As for Braden, I like his pluck.  The “get off my mound” is a bit too Gunnery Sgt. Hartman for me, but good for him for not backing down from what he perceived to be a challenge to his authority and dignity and all of that stuff. Get off my obstacle, Pvt. Rodriguez.

Of course if he gets lit up for seven runs in three innings the next time he faces the Yankees, he will have lost this match in the third set. Fair? I dunno, but that’s just how it works when you starting playing these macho, territorial games.

UPDATE: Speaking of territorial games, Flip Flop Fly Ballin’ has mapped out this whole issue in terms that I think all of us can understand.

123 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Evan - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    My baseball career ended pathetically in Highschool. That said, I’ve never heard of this unwritten rule or etiquette.
    .
    I don’t think Arod’s comment about the guys’ wins (or lackthereof) was THAT bad. Arod can say what he wants about the guy’s inexperience in the majors because he’s EARNED that right. Major League baseball has lots of rookie hazing and a HUGE “respect for elders” mentality.
    .
    This isn’t limited to baseball or the “sportswriters/bloggers world”. This is universal to almost every career. As they say, “it is what it is”. Swallow your pride, take your licks and don’t complain about it. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stand up for yourself when someone attacks you. At the same time, you’ll never earn the respect of your peers if you “flip out” every time someone “crosses your mound.”

  2. Carl - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Braden’s act was out of line, over a “rule” that few have heard of… I truly wonder what Jeter thinks about this “unwritten” rule?

  3. scatterbrian - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    “Pitchers spend so much time getting the rubber and their landing spots set for a reason.”
    .
    This is exactly why the existence of this unwritten rule is perfectly understandable.
    .
    The rationale of you is hilarious: I have never heard of this rule in all my years, so it must not exist.

  4. will - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Craig:
    Several other players have gone on record as never hearing this absurd rule…are they liars too? As for your problem with Arod’s appeal to authority, well, that’s relevant in this case. Who is a young pitcher like Braden to tell a 15-year veteran what he can and can’t do on the field? It would be like if you told a grizzled journalists how to act in the press box? It’s not the same as someone saying you don’t deserve a place in the game…just that you dont have the experience to dictate to those who have been around long before you.
    The overreaction to this is pure Arod bashing…plain and simple. If any other veteran said the same thing, everyone would be applauding him.
    http://captnsblog.wordpress.com/

  5. Ed - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    Maybe on fly balls that are caught we can change the rules to allow the runners to take “the shortest distance between two points”? That could help speed things up. While there is no rule saying you need to go back to the bag and “reset” your lead after a pitch, I always thought it was “baseball ediquette” to do so…A-Rid is a Pr!ck.

  6. KEN - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    hey ryan you must be a red flops fan how would you like to take a 90 mile and hr fast ball in head thinking like that is very lame you must never had played baseball you never wish a hitter to get hit try it sometimes maybe you might like it but ballplayers dont think like that

  7. Buddy Grant - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    I’m assuming the “never heard of this before” posters here would at least admit A-Rod was purposely trying to get under the pitchers skin in this instance. If that is the case then it’s simply a question if you think that kind of behavior is classy or not. Similar to calling ‘mine’ from the dugout on a pop-up, some think it is gamesmanship, while others are um, less impressed.
    Personally I think A-Rod’s dismissive reaction to Braden’s protests were the worst part of his behavior here. Then again, these are things I would expect A-Rod to do so I’m not sure why anyone is surprised:-).

  8. Casey - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    Wow, he ran across the pitchers mound, whats the big deal? I’ve played baseball my whole life and I’ve never heard of this “Unwritten rule” He seriously flipped out over that?? Why can’t he just play the game that he is getting millions to play? Stop complaining, your career is a game! Get over it! Be happy! Sports are supposed to be fun, now players shouldn’t touch a particular spot on the field? That’s absurd!

  9. SDS - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Right or wrong – after today, we’ll never be about to say, “I’ve never heard of this unwritten rule” – because we’ve definitely heard about now – with all the rhetoric.
    I know this – after reading all the comments – I’ll kindly walk around the mound.

  10. char_in_miami - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    for sure i had never heard of any “unwritten rule” of players not being allowed to cross/go over the pitcher’s mound. i was watching the game and saw that braden was yelling at rodriguez and even the a’s announders couldn’t figure out what braden was so upset about.
    when even the a’s play-by-play guys never heard of the “unwritten rule” it would certainly seem to be of very limited scope.

  11. Richard - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    “As for Braden, I like his pluck. The “get off my mound” is a bit too Gunnery Sgt. Hartman for me, but good for him for not backing down from what he perceived to be a challenge to his authority and dignity and all of that stuff. Get off my obstacle, Pvt. Rodriguez.”
    An bright “E” for Craig for muffing the “Get-off” reference. This was the proper play:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NelBNtNm8l0

  12. char_in_miami - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    for sure i had never heard of any “unwritten rule” of players not being allowed to cross/go over the pitcher’s mound. i was watching the game and saw that braden was yelling at rodriguez and even the a’s announders couldn’t figure out what braden was so upset about.
    when even the a’s play-by-play guys never heard of the “unwritten rule” it would certainly seem to be of very limited scope.

  13. char_in_miami - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    for sure i had never heard of any “unwritten rule” of players not being allowed to cross/go over the pitcher’s mound. i was watching the game and saw that braden was yelling at rodriguez and even the a’s announders couldn’t figure out what braden was so upset about.
    when even the a’s play-by-play guys never heard of the “unwritten rule” it would certainly seem to be of very limited scope.

  14. char_in_miami - Apr 23, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    for sure i had never heard of any “unwritten rule” of players not being allowed to cross/go over the pitcher’s mound. i was watching the game and saw that braden was yelling at rodriguez and even the a’s announders couldn’t figure out what braden was so upset about.
    when even the a’s play-by-play guys never heard of the “unwritten rule” it would certainly seem to be of very limited scope.

  15. Ryan - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    Replying to comment from scatterbrian –
    It’s existence is understandable but my rationale for making the point is hilarious? Care to support that? Am I missing something or should I go write a book about the things you’ve never heard of?
    Replying to comment from KEN –
    I’ve not shown my hand regarding which of the 29 teams I follow for a reason. I’ve made sure you all know which team should sink into a swamp though. Payback is a bitch if you truly deserve it, and despite what you think, many pitchers do believe like that. All signs point to Braden being one of them.

  16. Will - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    @ Buddy
    No, I don’t think Arod was trying to get under the pitcher’s skin. If you really believe that, then I guess you had to believe this is something Arod has done before (otherwise, it would have had to have occurred to him on the spot). And, if he has done it before, you’d expect other pitchers to have reacted similarly…assuming, of course, it is an unwritten rule?
    No…I am sorry…that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The more likely scenario is Arod’s path brought him across the mound, so he walked over it. I know it’s not a juicy motive, but sometimes common sense gets in the way.
    http://captnsblog.wordpress.com/

  17. Evil Gimp - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    And how many soldiers died in Iraq & Afghanistan today so that this would be the biggest issue of the day in some people’s lives.

  18. Ben - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    Rodriguez’s “handful of wins” comment was totally classless, and classic ARod. This isn’t about seniority – if it was, he would have said “handful of seasons.” ARod has a habit of trying to push around people he perceives to be less talented or famous than him. You think he would have swatted the ball out of Schilling’s or Pedro’s hand? There’s no doubt that he’s one of the greatest players of his generation, but that doesn’t entitle him to being a jerk (nor does it make him an authority on baseball traditions).

  19. Joebob - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    arod’s comment about his handful of wins was perfectly acceptable…why does this rookie wannabe major leaguer think he is in a position to tell anyone how the game is supposed to be played…he made a total douche of himself, it was great when the empty cups he so viciously attacked “fought back” and bounced back at him…what an over the top douche.
    I’m sure geren the ex catcher and tim mccarver probably respect him completely and admire him for setting Arod straight which is fine if he wants to show his manager he has some guts but he really overreacted…looking forward to the brawl next time around…like to see braden get pounded wouldn’t mind seeing arod getting a little something too.

  20. phil - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    exactly…what a childish, moronish notion that a pitching mound is “mine” and get away or I’ll cry…one of the dumbest things i’ve ever heard…

  21. Angelos - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    Of course: http://flipflopflyball.tumblr.com/post/543541028/i-drew-a-quick-map-of-bradenia

  22. Randall - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Even I’ve heard of this unwritten rule, and I’ve never played. It’s called “common sense/courtesy”: It’s a dead ball, the pitchers make their money from the mound, and EgoRod could just have easily gone around.
    It’s all good though. Let Alex claim the mound as his own, and let Mr. Braden invade the batter’s box w/ a nice high-and-too-tight. Normally I despise head-hunting, but Rodriguez is scum, so have at it.

  23. YanksOnTop - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    You can also add… World Series Champion to that list as well.

  24. Ryan - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    LMAO. Nice.

  25. Chuck - Apr 23, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    Rule or no rule it boils down to class. Jeter would never do this, he has class. Arod is just an *ss!

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