Where has the sportsmanship gone?
As I have previously blogged, I am a baseball purist. I played the game through college and a few years beyond in a semi-pro league. I also had a pitching coach in college that played professional baseball and another coach that played high Division I baseball and they taught me a lot of how the game is supposed to be played. There are several unwritten rules in baseball that needs to be followed in order to play the game right.
Some of the unwritten rules include 1) Not showing up a pitcher when you hit a home run off of them by taking too long around the bases. 2) You don’t steal the other team’s pitching signs. 3) As Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics recently taught Alex Rodriguez, you don’t step on the pitchers’ mound during the game as you run the bases. 4) You don’t steal bases on another team when you have a 6+ run lead late in the game. 5) You don’t stand in the “dirt cutout” at home plate while the pitcher is warming up in order to time their pitches. 6) Pitchers should never show up their fielders when they make an error. 7) A hitter should never bunt to break up a no hitter. 8) A hitter shouldn’t take a “home run cut” on a 3-0 pitch count with a big lead. 9) A catcher shouldn’t try to pick runners off bases when their team has a comfortable lead.
I am sure there are many more rules out there, these are some of the more common “unwritten rules”. I am a youth baseball coach and I teach my players to play the game right way, which is to follow these rules. Unfortunately, not all of the coaches I coach against know these rules. I have been on my fair share of games where we have comfortable leads, I follow the rules in these situations to the very last one. It is poor sportsmanship to rub it in when you have a big lead. I had situations in the last few weeks where coaches were stealing bases in the last inning when they were up 6 runs or more, they were trying to pick off base runners late in the game with a comfortable lead, they were swinging away for the fences on 3-0 counts.
I am not a sore loser, I truly believe that baseball is a sacred game. Baseball has been played for over 150 years and these rules have been passed down from generation to generation. I feel it is a coach’s responsibility to pass these on to their players in order for the next generation to learn to play the game the right way.