A-Rod Helps Baseball Discover Etiquette

I was watching Monday Night Baseball on ESPN.  It was the Yankees and the White Sox, and after Johnny Miller and Joe Morgan discussed the A-Rod play from the previous Thursday, Joe posted on the screen the “Baseball Rules of Etiquette.”  I’ll bet they wrote them out that afternoon.  It is the first time in my life that I have heard of the “Baseball Rules of Etiquette.”  Holy Cow!

One rule was kind of obvious, you aren’t supposed to spike the shortstop or the second baseman to break up a double play.  I don’t think you should spike anyone under any circumstances.  But, they put the list together rather quickly and probably didn’t think of that.  Alex Rodriguez, while running from second base to third base, with two outs, hollered at Howie Clark, Toronto’s third baseman.  Clark was camped under a pop fly third out.  When he heard A-Rod, he thought someone was calling him off the ball.  He stepped aside and the ball dropped, leading to more Yankee runs.  A-Rod’s action made Joe’s etiquette list.  Baseball etiquette now demands that a base runner not holler at a fielder.  Maybe it is OK if its a ground ball.  Maybe not.  I think Major League Baseball needs an Etiquette Committee to resolve such issues.

What in the world is going on.  Baseball players have always tried to get away with whatever they could.  We are not talking about the “Gentlemen of the Diamond,” it’s the Boys of Summer playing a game.  If a fielder swipes at a tag and misses the base runner by a good foot and the umpire calls the runner out, should the fielder notify the umpire that he missed the tag?  What is the proper etiquette?  Golfers call  penalties on themselves.  I submit that if the fielder did notify the ump, he would be banished from the clubhouse.  One of the first things you learn in Little League is don’t ever help the umpire.

Another item on Joe Morgan’s list is a batter should never look back at the catcher when he is giving signals or giving a target for the pitcher.  Batters do it all the time, but at their own risk.  If they get caught, they become the target.  That’s called “self-policing.”  Of course, a runner on second base will try to steal the catcher’s signals and also, notify the batter whether the target is inside or outside.  The runner would not point or do anything obvious.  He will make a subtle signal.  Self-policing can come into play here, also.

Everyone seems to agree that in a close play at home plate, there is no etiquette to be found.  If the ball beats the runner, then the runner will try to blast the catcher (who may be distracted catching the ball) hoping to dislodge the ball.  It’s OK to knock the catcher over as long as you don’t holler at him while you are giving him a concussion.  The other scenario is that the ball is late, so the catcher blocks the plate so the sliding base runner can’t touch home plate.  In that case, the runner has a right, even an obligation, to knock the catcher ass over tea kettle.  But, no hollering.

I wonder if all this silliness would have taken place if it had been someone else rather than A-Rod.  He is something of a Lightning-Rod.  I hope the game doesn’t change.  They should bury the etiquette list.  Let’s keep stealing signals, decoying runners and stalling so that the relief pitcher can warm up.  When the other team’s outfielder is running back to catch the ball and is just about to hit the fence, I will be yelling, “plenty of room, plenty of room.”  My only concern is to make sure he hears me.

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