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Unwritten rules lead to hard feelings in Astros-A’s game

Apr 19, 2014, 3:24 AM EDT

lowrie porter 2

As you’ve probably heard, the A’s racked up seven runs in the first inning of their 11-3 win over the Astros on Friday night, knocking starter Jarred Cosart out of the game. That frame only ended when Jed Lowrie, batting for the second time in the inning with a man on, aimed for a bunt single against the shift and was thrown out at first.

Even though the bunt didn’t work and actually helped Houston’s cause, the Astros didn’t take too kindly to it. Paul Clemens‘ very first pitch the next time Lowrie was up in the third was aimed at his knee and ended up right between his legs. The second was thrown inside, too. Eventually, Lowrie flew out to left-center and exchanged some words with Jose Altuve as he was taking off his batting gloves by the first base bag, at which point Astros manager Bo Porter exited the dugout and shouted at Lowrie and pointed as if to tell him to take his position.

So, yeah, we have an unwritten rule thing going on here.

The rule is that Lowrie shouldn’t have bunted. Even though it’s the first inning, and the Astros, while lousy, are still a major league team capable of scoring seven runs over the course of eight innings. Not that they’ve done so this year or anything, but capable, probably.

No, what Lowrie was supposed to do was to go up looking for a single.  Because swinging from the heels in that situation is also in violation of the unwritten rules. Also, it can’t be a cheap single, like a bunt. It has to be a legitimate single. Of course, the shift-happy Astros have their fielders in the absolute best position they can to deny Lowrie singles. But that’s just his tough luck.

This is why I can’t stand unwritten rules.

In my head, the best way to respect the opposing team is to go out there and play the absolute best game you can. If it were the eighth inning, then, yeah, bunting for a hit in a 7-0 game would be bush league. But in the first inning? Heck no. And I think the Astros waive all rights to be upset about this kind of thing when they’re still putting on the shift, something they continued to do long after Lowrie’s bunt. If you’re trying to take away the half of the field a player usually hits to, you can’t get all huffy when he tries to use the open area you’re giving him.

  1. Karl Buscheck - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:36 AM

    spot on

    • moogro - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      Never let the opponent intimidate you into making a bad decision.

    • ramrene - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      >In my head,…

      This is all anyone who played the game needs to read out of the entire article. “In my head”. That tells us Matthew Pouliot never played, doesn’t get it, and never will. So the next time anyone reads the guy, got to remember what you’re reading is coming from someone who is clueless.

  2. bronco58lb - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    I just moved to Texas and was so close to adopting the Astros as my team. Then I read this lame story. Even my respect for Jeff Luhnow can’t forgive this softness.

    • infieldhit - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:28 AM

      But are the Astros really unique here? I could see just about any other team being just as oversensitive.

      And while I understand some unwritten rules just boil down to sportsmanship, I agree with Matthew here. The Astros put the shift on as if the game weren’t completely out of hand, but their opponent isn’t able to react the same way?

  3. Samuel - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:31 AM

    Reblogged this on But at the end of the day… and commented:
    I agree with this. If it’s a 7-run lead late in the game, you don’t bunt. But it was the first inning and the shift was on. The Astros could still come back and win the game. Or maybe the Astros don’t believe in themselves and got all angry at themselves.

    • clydeserra - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      in the fifth, it was 8-2 and the astros had the bases loaded with one out and chris carter, their HR leader lastyear, up. He hit a sac fly to medium deep Right.

      so yeah, they were very close to 6 runs by the fifth.

      • bendover09 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        Chris carter also leads the league in strikeouts every year

      • clydeserra - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        not the point. the point is they had the bases loaded with a home run threat up. A real chance to make it a 2 run game.

        In fact he did hit the ball hard and was centimeters from hitting a grand slam

      • prestonbucher - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        Centimeters???? Really????

      • clydeserra - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        Yes. he only needed to hit the ball centimeters away from where he did on the bat and the ball would have been a home run.

  4. nottinghamforest13 - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    It’s clear the Astros players have already grown tired on Porter & his militant 1960s attitude which is typical of his kind.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      Militant 1960s attitude? Have the 1960s really become the emblem for rigidity?

      • sandpiperair - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Am I reading too much into this, or is he calling him a Black Panther?

      • Bryz - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        He did say “his militant 1960s attitude which is typical of his kind” so yeah, I think he is referencing the Black Panthers.

      • Old Gator - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        That’s barrywhereyoufrom level imbecility. Ugh – I hope we haven’t got two like that.

    • recoveringcubsfan - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      The Nats would welcome Porter back as third base coach if the Astros want to just end this experiment. Bad manager he may be, but the guy we have at third right now is a dumpster fire.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      Gotta ask: if he is white, where does his militant attitude come from?

      Incidentally, Porter was born in 1972.

    • Barry's Triceps - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      There goes old Gator pretending he isn’t me as usual.

      • Barry's Triceps - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        Old Gator…I never read the comments people leave on my stuff because this is a comment board, not a chat room for open dialogue. I read one story, read people comments, offer my own take and move on. The only reason I saw mention of myself here is because you brought me up, so let me educate your redneck ass as usual.

        Im a true liberal, and a man of science. Im assuming you think I am a racist because of my jokes in here or my comments on native Americans. My take is people like you that are so defensive are usually so afraid of their own insecurities showing so they are uber-sensitive. People like you, histiro philly and church of the poop or whatever his name is are some of the most bigoted people I have ever read on a message board. You are brainwashed sheeple regurgitating whatever the popular opinion is. You, like macklemore, are nothing more than pop queens looking for popularity. I will have know of it in this forum, your jig is up. If hating gays was the neweest meme, you lame brains would be all over it.thats the kind of people you are.

        You most likely hate me for pointing out the fact every piece of land on this earth has been stolen from other human beings, and every race has been involved in genocide and murder to advance their own causes. Hell, I even went as far back (using your own logic) that the homo sapiens should be held responsible for wiping out the Neanderthals. Once again, I’m going to educate so listen up. Im not going to apologize for natural selection or evolution. It is not my fault some peoples ancestors stopped technology, while others ancestors danced around naked in the jungle. Refusing to change their existence, worshipping whatever rock jutted out of the ground at a weird angle.

        I know this may be hard for you to understand, that its not “fair” these things happened. Well, life isn’t. We cannot make up for the mistakes of other peoples ancestors. I am not saying whites are superior, because so are Arabs, asians, Jews, Europeans, Russians, south Americans. It is not my fault that though black people and native Americans have alot of potential, their leaders let them worship trees and wear penis socks for millennia. You make think that was a more noble way of life, but here comes secret number 2 ill share for free today…

        We only have one planet. The powers that be that run the show in secret realized along time ago we need all races on this planet working together, developing technology to get off this God forsaken rock someday. It is the only hope our species has of survival. Species worshipping false idols, singing the same ceremonial song for 10000 years were not contributing to this goal. The architects of our current civilization have a wonderful plan, why fight it? These are the best scientific minds in our solar system. One day there will be enough habitable planets for us to have preserves for humans to live in that archaic way. But until then, time is a wasting.

        Support agenda 21.
        Disarm the public.
        Hillary Clinton 2016: join us stop fighting real progress! Continue our great leader Obamas vision he is pulling the strings to make the vision I just shared with you reality!

        Have a great day all. Hope you enjoyed it. If you got it, you are welcome for the laugh. Everyone else can go ahead and post angry rebuttals now.

      • Old Gator - Apr 19, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        @Barry’s triceps: I wasn’t referring to you at all. I was referring to the ultra-right-wing clown who routinely posts here as “barrywhereyoufrom” and endlessly flogs his Benghazi paranoia, among other things. That was quite the rant in response to a comment that had nothing whatsoever to do with you.

        I don’t actually even recall any of your “jokes or comments about native Americans” nor, not having a clue about who you are nor any recollection about anything you’ve written here in the past, so I’m not likely to “hate you” for them.

        Not only that, I agree wholeheartedly with your assertion that “every piece of land on this earth has been stolen from other human beings, and every race has been involved in genocide and murder to advance their own causes.” Not likely to hate you for that either.

        As a matter of fact, I don’t even know what it is that you’re so offended about. I’m not sure which “logic” it is by which you link my opinions with the extermination of the neanderthals, especially since I usually invoke that hapless race in connection with the designated hitter.

        As far as the rest of your bilious discharge – that histy, Cur and I are bigots, though Buddha only knows how you arrived at that conclusion since I can’t think of anything either of them have written that would amount to that, and I’ve been among the foremost defenders of LGBT rights, American Muslims, voting rights and worker’s rights on here. You’ve gone off half cocked without examples, without specifics, tarring nonsensically with a brush the width of a garage broom.

        At least I hope you feel better now – if you’re going to go about constructing mega-strawmen that are practically wickerman magnitude, you ought at least to know what and who you’re really talking about.

      • groupofsevenrules - Apr 19, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        Hey Gator –

        I have no idea what that tirade was about. I’m afraid I won’t be added to what must doubtlessly be a very short list of anyone who “gets it,” either in terms of its references to you or Cur or Historiophiliac or, once I tried to read it on its own terms, about what it was getting at in any other sense – especially that last little outburst about Hillary and Obama. I couldn’t make doodly squat of that initial post by “Barry’s Triceps” either – “There goes old Gator pretending….” Anyone who can, and would care to try a rational explanation for it, be my guest.

        That rhetorical ploy about anyone who doesn’t agree with the writer being “sheeple” has gotten pretty stale too, as has the term itself. The whole thing sounds pretty unhinged to me, to be honest.

        Fact is, I had just stopped by to see if you had made the pancakes…..

      • Reflex - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:53 PM

        My only regret in life is that I have yet to become a target of people like Barry. I am jealous that OG, Historio, Cur and Church have managed to outshine me so thoroughly.

      • Old Gator - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Well, I suppose it is an offbeat sort of fun, but attracting the attention of dimwits, borderline psychotics, wannabe Unabomber screed writers, pithecanthropoids (clearly the Neanderthal gambit is played out now), illiterates, neo-Nazis, homophobes and other various and assorted species of gutter life does have its wearisome side, too.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        Damn Barry…you had me until you screwed it all up with that Hillary Clinton/Barry Obama drivel.

  5. bobdira - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    No “unwritten rule” was broken here. There are enough games where a team comes back from a huge hole that expecting that rule to apply in the early innings of a game is absurd.

  6. voteforno6 - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    Has anybody consulted Commissioner McCann about this?

    • 18thstreet - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      Well, you know how McCann has a militant 1960s attitude, which is typical of his kind.

  7. Kevin S. - Apr 19, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    Honestly, I don’t care if it’s the eighth inning. If the other team hasn’t emptied its bench, I’m playing it out. If they’re shifting, I’m playing to beat the shift. Eff this crap.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      Indeed, I’ve seen enough games that proved the truth of Yogi’s “it ain’t over till it’s over” to support the corollary “there’s no such thing as too many runs” until the other guys have made at least 27 outs.

      • jsala02 - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        you haven’t seen enough Astros games then. 7 runs is a weeks worth

  8. bat42boy - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    Totally agree with your assessment.

  9. unclemosesgreen - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    Bo Porter is a clown. Time to go.

    • paperlions - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      It really is starting to look that way. He seems like another Kirk Gibson, only with a less talented team.

      • unclemosesgreen - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        I never like this stuff – but in the first inning??

  10. unclemosesgreen - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    Rules unwritten are
    no rules at all – just loosely
    agreed upon thoughts

    • nbjays - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      When there’s doubt about
      all these damn unwritten rules,
      call Sheriff McCann

      • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:34 AM

        He prefers “Party Whip.”

      • Old Gator - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        I think Chuck would make a great commissioner. He’s got the vapid smile for it.

  11. paul621 - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    “If it were the eighth inning, then, yeah, bunting for a hit in a 7-0 game would be bush league.”

    So, some unwritten rules are OK?

    • nymets4ever - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:47 AM

      I caught that too, but don’t expect any of the hiveminded minions here to actually call out a writer for contradicting himself. Haha

      • dcarroll73 - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Or maybe as the writer himself alluded, the basis for “unwritten” rules is sportsmanship which would mean that in the eight inning it might apply but not in the first? I would love to see any argument supporting this “hiveminded” bull that you have put out here before, Mr. Mutt. In fact there is a pretty spirited debate on HBT, and the writers generally come in for some snarky but good-natured teasing over gaffs.

      • Old Gator - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Poor dimwitted Mutts4ever. Let’s call everyone who realized what a putz he is “hiveminded” while missing the whole point of the article itself in the process.

      • stex52 - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        On a completely unrelated topic, Gator.

        I thought about you when I saw that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had died. A truly historic literary talent has passed.

      • Old Gator - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        He was more than just a talent. He gave an entire civilization its voice, if not a finally comprehensible persona through which to relate to itself. Contemporaneity has a levelling effect so it’s not readily apparent at the time that there’s a giant of such magnitude living amongst us, but even within a few days of his death it’s already becoming plain what we – by which I mean humanity as a whole – have lost. Marquez was the greatest craftsman and storyteller in the Spanish language since Cervantes, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story. There was no greater poet of the absurdity of modern existence in any language, including Samuel Beckett.

        I began re-reading for maybe the sixth or seventh time my beloved Cien Anos de Soledad when I heard about his death. It’s really paradoxical how a book can become both more familiar while its mere existence becomes more difficult to comprehend at the same time.

  12. prospero63 - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    It’s times like this to be thankful the majority of Houston is unable to watch the games.

    • stex52 - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      You speak the truth.

  13. nbjays - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    I don’t care what the score is, or what inning… if a team is employing that stupid extreme shift against my hitters, I’m bunting against it. If more hitters did this (better make that “if more hitters COULD do this”) then you’d see this silly shift thing go the way of the dodo pretty quick. If you don’t want t team bunting when up 7-0, then don’t take away half the infield.

    • dcarroll73 - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:32 AM

      Somewhere up there, Phil Rizzuto is nodding in agreement and saying, “if that one bunch of huckleberries would learn how to bunt, that other bunch would straighten up pretty quick.” Guys with any speed could end up with some pretty easy doubles smacking one just past third.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      I pretty much agree with this. The thing about shifts is that the defense is not taking away half the field, as you and Matthew state. Its intent is to take away the pull side of pull-heavy lefties, and that exposes just as much infield in the process. It’s a risk/reward strategy, just like the beloved intentional walk. But there were at least three problems with the strategy in this instance:
      1. There was a runner on first base, potentially allowing another runner into scoring position.
      2. Lowrie isn’t an extreme pull hitter from the left side.
      3. It was the bottom of the first inning.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 19, 2014 at 1:47 PM

        That being said, I have a very slight suspicion Lowrie did it to end the inning. The bottom of the first included five walks and a pitching change, and had been going nearly 32 minutes when Lowrie came up a second time. The A’s had a seven-run cushion with their young ace on the hill, who after a somewhat shaky top of the first had to go to the bullpen to stay loose.

  14. renaado - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:47 AM

    Hmm… “Unwritten Rules” huh, I’m still fairly new to this sort of thing. I did saw it happened 1st hand though at TV when watching the WBC 2013. Canada vs Mexico.. Really got ugly there.

  15. emaney477 - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:40 AM

    If I was a player, and a team tried a defensive shift on me, then I would bunt single every time. The same way bunting fir a hit might look cheap, so dies the defensive shift.

  16. gothapotamus90210 - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    This brings back memories of Ben Davis breaking up Schilling’s perfect game with a bunt single. The D-Backs had a 2-0 lead, and the single brought the tying run to the plate – I had no problem with it then, nor do I now.

    Let’s say the D-Backs were up 10-0. I wouldn’t have had a problem with a bunt attempt in that scenario, either. Defensively, a team must be able to field a ball in play taking into consideration a hitter’s abilities. If a hitter exploits the fact a corner IF is playing back, I don’t see the difference between that and trying to go the other way against a shift. Granted, bunting is arguably easier than hitting the ball the other way, but they both are strategic ways to play the game. If a hitter concedes a part of his repertoire to allow a pitcher to achieve a milestone game, the achievement should have an asterisk with it.

    In this case, the A’s were up 7-0, and to Matt’s point, it would’ve been disrespectful to the Astros to pull back already in the first inning. But even if one thinks the A’s shouldn’t have bunted, then there needs to be an expectation that the Astros would have played a traditional defense. It goes both ways – if the dominating team is supposed to concede a strategic advantage, the other team shouldn’t be trying to exploit the concession.

  17. bigjimatch - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    If Porter is throwing up the white flag in the first inning, he needs to be fired stat.

  18. windycity0301 - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs has done bunt singles against the shift, but if I were pitching to a teams best power hitter, I’d be happy with that result. Talk about a nice trade off…

    • Kevin S. - Apr 19, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      Disagree – if that’s the case, why not just intentionally walk him?

  19. mvp43 - Apr 19, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    I thought the Cardinals were the self appointed governors of baseballs unwritten rules? (only when it affects them of course)

    • paperlions - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      No, that was LaRussa, not the organization. Since he left the game, many guys from different organizations have stepped up to fill that void.

  20. Bob - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    This Astros fan agrees that the Astros and Bo Porter were way out of line. Take the hairy high school motivational poster bull and go back to high school. The Astros are at least seven position players away from being a .500 club but I’m fine with making the judgment on Porter now. If he spent as much time learning the real rule book as he has learning the unwritten rule book, he might not embarrass himself so much.

    Don’t give up 7 runs in the first inning. You may not be a major-league club but you play in the majors. Figure out a way to be more competitive. Quit running yourselves into outs every night. Learn the real rules of the game. Learn how to make contact. Learn how to get people out. And if your players can’t do that, go buy some real ones. Rebuilding is one thing but I’m tired of the excuses from ownership and the front office. I don’t want to hear about bad ownership deals, bad TV deals, farm system was barren, etc. Spend some money on some real major-league players. You play the fourth-largest city in America. Act like it.

  21. notsofast10 - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Is an unwritten rule eligible for instant replay?

    • mazblast - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      Only if it involves the Yankees or Red Sox.

  22. corecontrarian - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    What about the unwritten rule that a manager does not directly confront an opposing player on the field?

  23. barrybondsisthealltimehomerunking - Apr 19, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    If it’s 24-0 and a team is playing a shift go ahead and bunt, if it’s 24-0 and they aren’t holding you on go ahead and steal. Just because the Astro’s quit playing in the 1st inning doesn’t mean the A’s had to.

  24. genericcommenter - Apr 19, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    i’m confused because I thought Bo Porter was all about breaking the rules. “Bo knows unwritten rules” is not a good catchphrase.

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