Unwritten Rules: Bat-flips, Beanballs & The Hypocrisy of it ALL
On Monday, San Francisco Giants reliever Hunter Strickland incited a bench-clearing brawl after he drilled Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper with a 98-mph fastball. Although Harper got his shit rocked didn’t win the fight, his reaction to being thrown at was certainly justified. Taking a blunt object off the hip at 98 miles per hour would upset anyone, especially when you know that it was done intentionally.
Apparently Strickland was still holding a grudge about Harper celebrating after taking him deep twice during the Giants/Nats playoff series in 2014, so Strickland decided to remind Harper of one of baseball’s “unwritten rules”.
Now I know only five or six black people still watch baseball, so before I tell you why the rule is bullshit let me explain what it is.
This unwritten rule revolves around a general concept of “respecting the game.” We saw Detroit Tigers second basement Ian Kinsler stoke this fire recently when he didn’t hold back with his assessment of Team USA’s competition during the World Baseball Classic.
“I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as a opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays,” Kinsler told the New York Times.
Kinsler’s comments were a direct shot at guys like Jose Bautista, who has become the poster boy for bat flips after this clutch homerun vs. the Texas Rangers.
Now before you call Bautista’s celebration excessive, allow me to provide a little context. It’s the bottom of the 7th inning, and the Blue Jays have just tied the game on two crazy plays. Now I was at a bar when this happened and I literally jumped out my chair once Bautista made contact, so I can only imagine how Bautista felt actually hitting that ball out of the Rogers Centre.
That was a beautiful moment. Bautista stepped to the plate with his team in need of a big hit in a closeout game, and not only did he deliver, he did it in emphatic fashion. Now how can you do some hater shit and get mad at that?
“That’s not taking anything away from them,” Kinsler continued. “That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.”
Kinsler’s comments were out of line and had an extremely racist undertone, but his sentiment in regards to the way the game is played is applied to all players. Ever since he broke the mold by getting his GED, going to JUCO then being drafted first overall at 17 years old, baseball purist have had their share of criticism for Bryce Harper.
However, the more you watch baseball the more you realize that Kinsler’s comments make no sense. Pitchers seem to be exempt from this unwritten rule, as you constantly see them mean mug batters, scream and celebrate after every strike out and last out.
So when you take that into consideration, it seems pretty hypocritical to get upset when hitters take a little extra time around the bases or admire a tape measure shot. Especially in a sport where doing something correct 28% of the time is considered acceptable (The all time league batting average is between .260 and .275).
Not only are hitters expected to “respect the game” when they do great things, but the punishment for brawls like this are rarely ever equal. Hunter Strickland was suspended six games, which for a reliever doesn’t mean much, and would mean even less for a starting pitcher.
Harper on the other hand was originally suspended for four games, and it was later reduced to three. Even with the reduction, three games for a position player is a much harsher penalty than a few games for a pitcher who doesn’t pitch everyday.
In many ways, America’s national pastime has become a direct reflection of the country it was created in. Archaic in its thought process and seemingly unwilling to change, the old guard in baseball refuses to acknowledge the hypocrisy of allowing this practice to continue. Instead they simply regurgitate the same b.s. responses while those who don’t see a problem with it simply say “you just don’t get it.”
FOH. There’s nothing wrong with pitching inside, anyone who knows baseball understands that it is important of a pitcher to establish the inside of the plate. But throwing at batters is excessive and unnecessary.
I mean you could always just do your job and get the guy out.