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If you’re against unwritten rules, be against all unwritten rules

Apr 25, 2014, 9:33 AM EDT

michael pineda pine tar

Jon Morosi writes today that the calls for baseball to legalize pine tar or some other substance for pitchers in cold weather in the wake of the Michael Pineda incident are dumb:

So, because Pineda foolishly and brazenly flaunted baseball’s cold-weather code, Major League Baseball is supposed to tear up its rule book? . . . The Yankees have lost Pineda for 10 games, because they did a poor job of communicating baseball’s unwritten rules: You can’t use pine tar . . . but you actually can . . . everybody does it . . . you just need to be careful . . . it’s probably a good idea to rub it on your glove or belt loop so that the umpire and TV cameras can’t see.

Repeating myself from yesterday, I’m not sure how people are supposed to accept the directly conflicting ideas that (a) “there is absolutely nothing wrong with using pine tar and everyone else does it”; with (b) “by God, don’t let anyone see you doing it, you idiot!” It’s either wrong or it’s right, cheating or not, isn’t it? We can talk about how severe a case of cheating it is and whether it warrants big discipline or little discipline, but things are either allowed or they are not. If they are not, criticizing people for not being sneaky enough in doing it seems like a really dumb message.

And, in this case, a bit of an inconsistent one from Morosi, who has quite admirably advocated for doing way with baseball’s silly and antiquated “unwritten rules.” Indeed, just four days ago he quite wisely said that baseball needs to get over itself with the unwritten rules and dumb codes of respect some people have read into the game regarding bat-tossing, admiring home runs and on-field exuberance. Now he’s all for the same sort of silly code about how one does or does not properly break rules.

Of course, given the guy’s track record on consistency, perhaps I shouldn’t be all that surprised here.

  1. baberuthslegs - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Tear up that unwritten rule book!!!

    • aresachaela - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      All hell would break loose if that happens.

      • baberuthslegs - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        I should have used my sarcasm font.

      • aresachaela - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        LOL XD!! Or put a face there while your at it.

  2. sdelmonte - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    This is of course all about the eleventh commandment: thou shalt not get caught!

    And let’s be honest about dishonesty. A lot of people thing that way at least some of the time. When it comes to taxes, or the speed limit, or a thousand other things. I will not tell others what to believe about right and wrong. But a lot of the discussion about Pineda is not about the rules. It’s about flaunting them.

  3. hoopmatch - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    I feel that pro baseball is more fun to watch (and read about) because of the unwritten rules. Sure, some unwritten rules are inane. But that’s just people being people. It’s a human game.

    That said, I’d love to see the calling of balls and strikes turned over to Pitch F/X.

    • kidpresentable - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      I disagree. I think the unwritten rules make the game stuffy and are the reason playoff and World Series ratings go down. People still like their team, but it’s hard to get interested in other teams if the players are expected to behave in a uniform manner. People like to cheer for or against Lebron James. People like to cheer for or against Richard Sherman. Outside of Pittsburgh, can anyone tell me anything about Andrew McCutchen outside of stats? How about Miguel Cabrera outside of Detroit? Now how about Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers, or Lebron, or Kobe. The only opinions that people can form about players not on their own teams or their rival’s team come from guys who broke unwritten rules, but if you deem Prince Fielder to be a horrible person because of his bowling pin celebration from several years ago, you need to re-evaluate your life.

      • illuminancer - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        I disagree with your disagreement. I haven’t been really into baseball for very long, but one of the things that I like about it is that it’s not basketball or football. It’s not about one guy, and one guy can’t carry a team to a championship. Flipping your bat when you do something awesome is one thing, but outright taunting the other team home run feels to me like you’re trying to make the game about you, and not about the 24 other guys.

        That said, I think the game by its nature enforces the unwritten rules just fine. Unlike basketball and football, baseball is a game where the best players are going to fail 2/3 of the time, and where stupid preening will come back to bite you more often than not. I thought Puig standing and watching a ball that didn’t go out was the funniest thing ever, because he looked like an idiot and he knew it. I think Cole should have just pointed and laughed at Gomez because he ended up looking stupid trying to pimp a triple.

        I’d also disagree that the unwritten rules and the perception that baseball is “stuffy” as reasons postseason ratings are down. Ratings are down because ESPN has told people for years that 1) baseball is long and boring and nothing happens and 2) the only baseball teams that matter are the Yankees and the Red Sox. It would be nice if MLB did a better job promoting itself, but until the national narrative changes, people are going to believe that baseball is just guys standing around and that football isn’t a few minutes of action interrupted by commercials.

  4. seanwasamarine - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Jon Morosi and Craig Calcaterra are both idiots.

    • hoopmatch - Apr 25, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      I’m tempted to say it takes one to know one.

    • jeffbbf - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      Seriously – maybe Craig should focus on actual baseball stories and news, and stop simply referencing and commenting on what other writers/bloggers are writing/blogging. If we wanted to read their crap, we’d follow their blogs/colums. Trolling, lazy, and tiresome. I guess it’s up to Gleeman, Poullliot, Baer, etc to write the original stories/posts.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        This is Craig’s blog. He’s made that perfectly clear each time one of you complains about being forced to read this site. Feel free to request a refund for your subscription.

      • madhatternalice - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        “Trolling, lazy, and tiresome.”

        Sweet, sweet, delicious irony.

      • natstowngreg - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        Request a refund? Hmmm, interesting idea. Now, where did I put the receipt for my subscription payment?

        FYI to Craig-bashers. He trolls many sites, and gives us links, so we (who don’t have the time or inclination) don’t have to. So do the other bloggers. Some of us have the sense to appreciate this service.

        Craig also, as part of his day job, gives us commentary on material he has found. NBC allows us to exercise our right of free speech within reasonable limits. All NBC asks is that we endure annoying Internet ads. On the whole, seems a pretty fair exchange.

    • kyzslew77 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:29 AM


  5. DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    Against all unwritten rules. So….do you still think “no fight happens” without Cole saying “take a picture next time, a-hole”? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say no fight happens if morons did not start throwing punches?

    Because if you believe “no fight happens if Cole doesn’t decide to start hurling F-bombs”, that sounds awfully close to claiming there is an unwritten rule…..

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      Pointing out what likely does or does not occur is not an example of unwritten rules. It’s an assumption/prediction based on what may happen given human nature and past experience.

      Saying “if a fight happened in that situation, Player X or Player Y is justified” is an example of nodding to unwritten rules.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:40 AM

        What would the assumption be of what may happen on a bat flip? The same thing, right? Which is why I said the other day – trying to assign blame goes around in circles forever, and it is pointless to say one act was the cause

        Cole & Gomez = idiots. Idiots happen every day. They don’t mean fights though.

  6. Francisco (FC) - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    So, because Pineda foolishly and brazenly flaunted baseball’s cold-weather code

    New drinking game. Every time a writer (or blogger) uses the word flaunt when he really means flout. DRINK. I’m guessing I’m going to be really hammered by the end of today.

    • mcg27 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      just gained useful knowledge from a blog comment…I’m gonna flaunt the word flout for the rest of the day.

    • moogro - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      The rule flaunters are wanna-be drag queens.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      I cannot condone this game….I are got no good usages myself. Literally

  7. andreweac - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    One is a cheater and a disgrace to humanity if you blatantly violate the nebulous unwritten rule book. You are gritty and professional if you don’t get caught.

    • peymax1693 - Apr 25, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Seems that way, doesn’t it?
      What irks me is the notion that the Red Sox were the innocent victims of Pineda’s cheating, but they wouldn’t have been if he had been more secretive about it (like Lester and Buchholz apparently are).

  8. offseasonblues - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    “If you’re against unwritten rules, be against all unwritten rules”


    • umrguy42 - Apr 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      “If you’re against unwritten rules, be against all unwritten rules”

      C’mon, Craig, everybody knows only Sith deal in absolutes…

  9. raysfan1 - Apr 25, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    The whole pine tar thing is ludicrous. There should be no unwritten “it’s okay to cheat if you are discrete” rule. If using pine is a big deal, enforce the rule every time someone does it, discretely or not. If it isn’t a big deal, change the rule.

    As for being against all unwritten rules, well, that’s something of an overstatement. Society is full of unwritten rules, mostly governing politeness. They can’t all be codified, or baseball and every other sport would have rule encyclopedias instead of rule books.

  10. chiadam - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Repeating himself is what Craig does. He only has three thoughts, and recycles those thoughts in random order.

  11. jimmyt - Apr 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    “This is Craig’s blog. He’s made that perfectly clear each time one of you complains about being forced to read this site. Feel free to request a refund for your subscription.”

    How nice of Craig’s Mom to weigh in with a post.

  12. phillyphannnn83 - Apr 25, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    Such a stupid statement. Some rules are right, some are wrong. Some unwritten rules are right, some are wrong. Seriously Craig, are you becoming communist or something?

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