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Jake Fox — gasp! — broke an unwritten rule

Mar 30, 2011, 12:02 PM EDT


I had missed this, but several readers have alerted me to the fact that Jake Fox of the Baltimore Orioles was excoriated by both the opposing manager — Jim Leyland — and his own manager following what they perceived to be a clear violation of one of baseball’s many, many unwritten rules the other day:

The Orioles had runners on second and third and no outs in the eighth inning today when Fox came to the plate against Tigers minor leaguer Chance Ruffin. The most important aspect of this story is the score was 13-3 at the time, and both teams had subbed out most of their regulars. Ruffin started the at-bat with three straight balls, but Fox decided to take a rip at a 3-0 pitch in a clear take situation.

Taking that 3-0 rip in a blowout got both Leyland and Buck Showalter barking at Fox for not playing the game the right way and all of that rebop.

For what it’s worth, I think ‘Duk at Big League Stew nailed it in his post yesterday when he noted how — no matter what you think of Fox’s act on its own terms — it’s rather silly to get worked up about this sort of thing in a spring training game where the last thing anyone usually thinks about is competitive integrity.  And even if you should care about competitive integrity in such a game, it’s worth noting that the the Tigers staged a bit of a comeback in this one, with the score ending up 14-9.

But really: if pitchers are allowed to “work on stuff” in spring training games, why can’t hitters? There will be a time this year when Fox gets a green-light 3-0.  Is he not entitled to practice up on his from-the-heels swings?

  1. APBA Guy - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    I think maybe the barking comes from it being so close to regular season: the managers now expect guys who’ve made the cut to conform to regular season protocols. This is a big year for Fox. Oakland cut him last year for non-performance, and he’s found a home in Baltimore. But 10 pre-season homeruns mean nothing starting tomorrow.

  2. BC - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    That’s an unwritten rule? How many o’s are there in stoooooooooooooopid? It’s spring training for crying out loud. Shut up.

  3. Jonny 5 - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    “competitive integrity”

    Ironic when you think about it.

  4. joeflaccosunibrow - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Clearly a double standard. I have no problem with this. Fox was not a lock to make the club anyway. He played his way onto the team. It helps by hitting 10 homers to lead MLB in spring training.
    What if the tigers came back? This would be a different story.

  5. Charles Gates - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    You want to chew out Vlad or Brian Roberts or Nick Markakis for trying to show up a young pitcher for a self aggrendizing moon shot? I can almost see it. I don’t, but almost. A prospect has to earn his/her stripes to get to the big show. That means putting away established veterans, even after getting behind 3-0.
    But to get on ~career minor leaguer for busting his back side for doing everything he can to try to make the team? C’mon.

  6. jwbiii - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I think if you tried to explain this rule to Billy Martin, you would leave the conversation with fewer teeth.

    • lmno7 - Mar 30, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      Right or wrong… Showalter is still a douche.

  7. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I have a problem giving Fox the green light in any situation. Is he really green light worthy? Showalter probably doesn’t think so.

  8. bcopus - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    The whole situation would have turned out much better comically if the Tigers came back and won 16-14.

  9. yankeesfanlen - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    That must be how they roll in the 410.

    • Charles Gates - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      It’s all in the game, yo.

      • Alex K - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        Two references to The Wire in the comments of back to back posts? I’m in Heaven!

    • Alex K - Mar 30, 2011 at 4:31 PM

      To be fair Fox is from the 317….

  10. sayheykidwschamp - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Get off my mound….ARod.

    Dallas Braden

  11. sanzarq - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Both Leyland & Showalter blew it here! Jake was feeling sorry for the pitcher and took a swing at ball 4 to keep the game moving. He was embarrassed by the score. Too bad he didn’t hit ST dinger #11, since the Tigers rallied back.

    Somebody needs to lighten up!

  12. hasbeen5 - Mar 30, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    There are some unwritten rules that make some sense, but I don’t get this one. You’re losing a blowout and you go 3-0 on a guy. If you throw ball 4 there’s a 100% chance that the guy gets on base. If he swings, there’s at best about a 35% chance he gets on base, which means there’s a 65% chance you get him out. I’ll take those odds.

  13. Utley's Hair - Mar 30, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Ah…the first unwritten rules post of the new year…

  14. marshmallowsnake - Mar 30, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    This is lame…and just shows how spoiled sports people are…if this is their biggest worry of the day, good for them.

  15. markfrednubble - Mar 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Nowhere in this string have I seen what happened on that 3-0 swing. C’mon Craig, good reporting! Did he swing and miss?

    It is absurd. Shame on Leyland and Showalter, but so typical for both of them.

    • andrewf16 - Mar 30, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      He swung and missed, and eventually walked.

  16. lanflfan - Mar 30, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Ordinarily I’m supportive of “unwritten rules”, but since when is hitting, in a spring game, NOT allowed. I don’t care what the count is, swing the dam bat. He could have just as easily lined into a triple play. Would the opposing manager bitch then? Grow up Leyland.

  17. lbehrendt - Mar 30, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    I hate unwritten rules. Why do you think they get violated? Duh. Because they’re unwritten. Notice that the rules we care about — don’t steal, don’t murder, don’t drive 80 MPH in a school zone — are written rules. If you don’t write the rule down, don’t expect people to follow it.

  18. paul621 - Mar 30, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    From Showalter’s perspective, I bet it’s more about disobeying the manager than some unwritten rule. Does anyone really think Fox has a perpetual green light? Swinging away when the manager says not to is going to get anyone yelled at…

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