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Terry Collins makes the unwritten rules even more complicated than they already were

May 16, 2012, 8:49 AM EDT

Terry Collins AP

Here’s an interesting philosophical question: if you get into one of those unwritten rules, Old School situations in which the other guy’s big star gets drilled and, you can expect, your big guy is going to get hit in retaliation, are you obligated to make your big guy bat and take that lump?

Terry Collins was faced with that situation last night.  After Rickie Weeks hit a home run, Mets pitcher D.J. Carrasco drilled Ryan Braun with the next pitch. It certainly seemed intentional, and given that the ump immediately ejected Carrasco, he thought so too, Carrasco’s “it got away from me” post-game schitck notwithstanding.

But, as the Old School rules dictate, the score is not settled until someone gets hit in retaliation (never mind that either the homer or the ejection could be thought of as balancing out the scales; this is Sparta after all). It seems more likely that if the Brewers’ superstar got drilled, the Mets’ star would be hit in return. And David Wright was due up soon.

Except Collins didn’t let it happen. He pulled Wright for a pinch hitter, and explained his reasoning to the press after the game:

“You want to know why I took him out of the game?” Collins said later, his voice sharp and loud. “He wasn’t getting hurt … I’ve got news for you: In this game there are unwritten rules and one of the unwritten rules is, ‘You hit my guy — I’m hitting your guy.’ They were not hitting my guy tonight.”

Wright was visibly angry in the dugout when Collins yanked him. Collins later said that Wright said “if someone’s going to get hit, it’s going to be me.” Which I suppose is standup leadership of some twisted kind. Indeed, I’m reminded of Major Heyward allowing himself to be burned by the Huron Indians so Hawkeye and his pals can go free in “Last of the Mohicans.” Oh, Major Heyward, your bravery and sacrifice was ever so noble!

Anyway, the question I have is whether, in not allowing the unwritten rules play themselves out, Terry Collins, in fact, broke the unwritten rules. You double-cross once – where’s it all end? An interesting ethical question. Oh, and doesn’t this mean that Wright is now certain to get hit the next time the Mets and Brewers play? Was anything accomplished?

Gosh baseball is complicated.

  1. savocabol1 - May 16, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Football is better

    • heyblueyoustink - May 16, 2012 at 9:25 AM

      Poking you with a cattle prod would be even better than that, meat head.

    • 18thstreet - May 16, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      If they offered a Brewers pitcher cash incentives for his assault, it would make for great TV. #saints

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      Then go on over to PFT.

    • nightman13 - May 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      It’s because of people like this that I desperately wish I could swap football fans with baseball fans. Football is by far my favorite sport, but the meathead moron fans disgust me. I almost never talk football with people though because I don’t like having to dumb down that far.

  2. clarenceoveur - May 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Why don’t they just instantly cut Carrasco? Its patently ridiculous that the 25th man on the team puts the stars into this moronic Unwriiten Rule loop by hitting Braun in the 1st place.

  3. The Common Man - May 16, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    I’m really confused. Somebody should really write all these rules down so we can keep track

    • bsbiz - May 16, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      Silly, then they wouldn’t be the nebulous things that mean whatever anyone wants them to mean.

      • 18thstreet - May 16, 2012 at 9:57 AM

        Dammit. He’s got us.

      • natstowngreg - May 16, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        Besides, if we wrote them down, they would have to come up with new unwritten rules. Seems like a waste of time.

  4. runyetirun - May 16, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    Doesn’t Collins know that you can’t triple-stamp a double-stamp?

  5. frankenderek - May 16, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Ummm…Terry, you know you play again the next night right? It’s not like everyone’s memory gets erased after every game, this isn’t Xbox.

    • caputop - May 16, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      They actually don’t.

      And if the next time they play they want to hit him with their starter and risk getting him tossed early, that’s fine. Up 8-0 no one really cares about getting tossed, so while I think everyone getting angry was funny, I think there is some sort of method to this madness.

  6. rollinghighwayblues - May 16, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Knowing how scores like these can drag on, I guess we’ll have to wait until September 14 when the Mets travel to Milwaukee. Collins can’t be Wright’s shield for an entire three game series.

    • davidpom50 - May 16, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      They definitely carry over long term – On Monday night, Ian Kennedy threw behind Clayton Kershaw’s head in retaliation for Kershaw plunking Gerardo Parra last September, which was retaliation for Parra pimping a home run off of Hong-Chih Kuo the night before, which was retaliation for Kuo throwing high and tight, which was… and accident. Kuo struggled with control all year.

      • nightman13 - May 16, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        Can I get that in flowchart format?

      • willsolo - May 16, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        @Nightman13

        Thank you for that awesome comment…

  7. mattjadin - May 16, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Maybe Seth McClung will be called up from Nashville prior to the next Brewers-Mets game.

  8. thefalcon123 - May 16, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    At some point, someone will come on here and make the argument that players nowdays are pussies, getting beaned is a “man” thing and Willie Mays would take his lumps from Bob Gibson cause they weren’t wieners! Let’s pre-empt that argument now.

    In 1950, a batter was hit every 221 plate appearances
    1960: a batter was hit once every 194 plate appearances
    1970: 1 of every 195
    1980: 1 of every 245
    1990: 1 of every 186
    1995: 1 of every 128
    2000: 1 of every 121
    2005: 1 of every 103
    2010: 1 of ever 120

    A player is much, much more likely to be drilled now than in the 1960s.
    (there are other reasons, such as hardware protecting players, players more willing to stand on stop of the plate, etc).

    • mjames1229 - May 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      … More teams so are more AA caliber pitchers forced to play…

      • kopy - May 16, 2012 at 9:36 AM

        And pitchers are just churning through the majors these days. As of yesterday there were 90 pitchers on the DL in MLB.

        Ninety.

    • rpb1234 - May 16, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      The real reason is AJ Burnett. He is slewing the curve,

      • ptfu - May 16, 2012 at 10:38 AM

        If AJ Burnett could slew his curve, he wouldn’t have been exiled to the Pirates.

    • Jeremy Fox - May 16, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      Cool. I didn’t realize HBP were up so much.

      And as for the two specific “old school” guys most frequently raised in these discussions, Don Drysdale did indeed lead the league in HBP 5 times, and most years hit >10 guys (max 20). For his career, Don Drysdale averaged about 1 HBP/22 IP. But Bob Gibson only had as many as 10 HBP 4 times, never more than 13, and more typically only had 3-7/year. Gibson averaged about 1 HBP/38 IP. If he was facing, say, 4.2 batters/inning, that’d be 1 HBP per 160 PA, only a slightly higher rate than typical for his era.

      Not saying Gibson didn’t throw inside. But the notion that he was out there plunking lots of guys isn’t true.

      • 18thstreet - May 16, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        Pedro Gomez knows, with his own eyes, that this isn’t true.

    • buddaley - May 16, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Nice point, and to emphasize further the misapprehension about so-called “old school” pitchers, here is another statistic. Bob Gibson is often used to represent the tough guy who threw at batters. As a matter of fact, over his career he hit one batter for every 157.5 that he faced.

      I don’t recall Roy Halladay being considered a head hunter, and he is known for his excellent control (which Gibson was not). But over his career, Halladay has hit one batter for every 155.69 he faced-i.e. more often than Gibson did.

      Famously, Early Wynn was supposed to have said he would hit his grandmother if he had to (or something like that). But he only hit one batter per 303.25 in his career. And Sal Maglie, the barber, did it once every 163.2 batters faced.

      Now Don Drysdale really did hit a lot of batters, one every 91.5 he faced. But he does not compare to a more recent pitcher who did it once every 80.8 batters faced-Pedro Martinez.

      “Old School”, as in pitchers used to be more willing to throw at batters, is a nonsensical myth, not because these facts prove it, but because there is no evidence that pitchers used to be more willing to hit batters.

      • gloccamorra - May 16, 2012 at 10:58 PM

        Actually, in the late ’50s-early ’60s, it was commonplace to see the guy coming up after a homer get knocked down. Not hit, but forced to hit the ground. Your HBP numbers don’t reflect that. When pitchers like Gibson and Drysdale hit batters, it was usually with a purpose.

        Johnny Bench reported the first time he faced Gibson: first AB he got a single, second AB he got a double, third AB he got a fastball in the ribs. Drysdale once was told to walk a batter and his first pitch bounced off the guy’s hip. When asked later if it was deliberate, he said “the manager told me to put him on. Why waste four pitches when you can get it done with one?”

  9. cuffhimbanano - May 16, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Only in baseball can the postgame presser’s main topic be unwritten rules. Mind boggling stupid.

  10. Reggie's Bush - May 16, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Cry me a river Craig… Every fifth post is how dispicable you feel about baseball. PC is dull and boring.

    Also, why was Carasco tossed? I was at the game and was totally confused – can anyone help me if anything was said on the broadcast?

    Look I know Golden Boy got hit, but there was no history, he got hit on the arm not like the ball was thrown at his head… Plus Carasco was all over the place – the only strike he threw was taken deep by Weeks

    Shouldn’t there at least have been warnings issued? Maybe the fans continuous booing and heckling in left field made the ump think Carasco was placating us?

    • heyblueyoustink - May 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      You mean goldenseal boy, right?

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      The history—as it pretty clearly states above—began with Weeks’ homer the pitch right before the plunking. With all the plunking going on recently, I really don’t think there is a need for warnings right now. Maybe the ump was trying to nip things in the bud.

  11. HitsDingers - May 16, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    That was the most bush-league chicken-shit call Mike Rizzo has seen in 30 years!

  12. shaggylocks - May 16, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    These rules are so confusing. Someone should just write them down so we can sort it all out easier. Hey, why didn’t anyone think of that?

  13. hughhansen - May 16, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I like Collins’ motivation here. He wants to keep Wright from getting hurt.

    I like Wright’s response, too. He doesn’t want someone else to get hit because he’s on the bench.

    I’m surprised it worked, though. I’m not sure why the Brewers didn’t just hit someone else.

    Now that we’ve gotten this far without anyone getting hit, it probably has a good chance of being a complete success. At the very least, it has a much better chance of preventing Wright from being hit than doing nothing would’ve. I think the chance of Wright getting hit if he leads off the bottom of the seventh would’ve been 99%. Now, his chance of getting hit in the next game they play is probably 45% (numbers are very scientific).

    Of course, Carrasco’s to blame for all this. And he should have some internal discipline, at the very least. It shouldn’t be okay to create a situation where your best hitter is going to get intentionally hit with a pitch.

  14. phillyphan83 - May 16, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    5 game suspension!!!! 5 game suspension!!! so ridiculous

    • 18thstreet - May 16, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      Does anyone else feel like we’re just stuck in a loop here? Sigh.

      I guess I’m obligated to say something over the top about Phillies fans, and how stupid they are.

      Well, let’s get on with it.

  15. lukeslice - May 16, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Hey at least Craig isn’t whining about Braun getting thrown at intentionally, right? Win!

  16. metalhead65 - May 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    it doesn’t seem that hard for the guys who play the game to understand and play by these rules you find so difficult. and I hate to break it to you they are not going to change or stop playing by them because you don’t like or understand them. shouldn’t you be wasting your time inventing some new saber stat or something?

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      Written rules trump unwritten rules, and written rules can be changed to counteract silly a$$ unwritten rules.

    • Jeremy Fox - May 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      Actually, the guys who play the game disagree on the unwritten rules all the time. That’s the whole point of this post–Collins and Wright disagreeing on what was the right thing to do under the unwritten rules. Or think of Hamels intentionally hitting Harper and claiming that was “old school”, only for Cal Ripken Jr. and various other famous retired guys to say that they didn’t think it was “old school” at all.

      If everybody agreed on the unwritten rules and played by them, the unwritten rules would never get broken, which means we’d never hear about them. That isn’t the world we live in. So spare us the bulls**t about how only the players understand the game and nobody else does.

  17. chill1184 - May 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    As soon as I heard about the benching I was think how much of a overreaction this was going to get from the media. Thanks MSM you never disappoint, I cant wait for Fatcessa to get on his high horse about it

  18. kranepool - May 16, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Seems Craig has a problem with most things Terry Collins does as manager, I shouldn’t just single out Craig but most of the SABR-cats have problems with guys like Collins who have been in the baseball business longer than most of their critics have lived.

    Last nights game was over by the 6th inning and with the Mets as thin as they are bench wise didn’t want to see either Wright or Murphy hit with a pitch in retaliation and risk another unaffordable injury. Very simple common sense but I guess for some of the intellectual baseball fans if it’s not in a actual book they can’t figure it out.

    As a Mets fan, I’m happy to see a pitcher finally plunk a batter but I wish it was Shane Victorino instead of Braun and it’s good to see emotion from Wright. I know it’s chic to say the Mets suck but if you’ve been paying attention you’d know that this team plays hard and never gives up unfortunately there isn’t a metric for that.

    • Utley's Hair - May 16, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      And what, pray tell, did the Hawaiian do to warrant such animosity from the likes of you?

    • CJ - May 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      the metric for playing hard and never giving up is still wins and losses, last i checked.

    • Jeremy Fox - May 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      The post isn’t a criticism of Collins. Craig knows perfectly well why Collins pulled Wright (heck, he quoted Collins’ explanation), and is not saying that Collins should’ve left Wright in to get hit. The post an observation about the unwritten rules and how interesting it is that people who’ve “been in the game longer than most of their critics have lived” *don’t actually agree on what those rules are or when it’s ok to break them*. For instance, Wright and Collins don’t agree on whether it was ok for Collins to pull Wright. So perhaps you’d like to take your “simple common sense” and explain it to David Wright, who is apparently an “intellectual baseball fan” who “can’t figure it out”.

  19. blarry21 - May 16, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Thank you Collins. Now I don’t have to worry about which of my Brewers have to serve suspensions for the ensuing brawl that would’ve taken place.

  20. JB (the original) - May 16, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    So, was Wright truly upset that he didn’t get a chance to have his ego stroked by being plunked, and thusly inferring his “star” status on the team? Would that be “Emo School”?

  21. mwarneridx - May 16, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    I was watching the game, and I didn’t think it was ‘obvious’ that Carrasco threw at him. It’s his 3rd appearance of the year and if he had such pinpoint control I doubt he would’ve thrown one to Weeks that was basically right down the middle. He was in there to soak up some innings, which of course he couldn’t do since he was immediately excused. Way overreaction by the ump.

    I also thought both David & Terry were completely (w)right. David wants to compete and lead, and that’s what makes him great. Terry has to make the best decision for everybody & protect his best player. David made his point, very strongly, and then went to Terry to show “I disagree, but you’re the boss.” A healthy environment all the way around.

  22. dawglb - May 16, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    LOVE the Last of the Mohicans reference! “I said, Take me!”

  23. muskyhunter2542 - May 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    ron roenicke wasnt going to do sh*t anyway… Thats just not his thing. The biggest retaliation the brewers could give them is an asskicking and thats what they got!!! The final was 8-0 and it could/should have been far worse.

  24. ltzep75 - May 16, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Maybe Roenicke was going to channel his inner Johnny Caspar and instruct one of his boys to “always put two in the brain.”

  25. dawglb - May 16, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    Collins thought he was bring smart……. Smart isn’t always appreciated where testosterone is present.

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