Misuse of Baseball’s Unwritten Rules

Baseball’s unwritten rules have been a hot topic ever since Dallas Braden vocally criticized Alex Rodriguez for running across “his” mound.  Braden proceded to throw a perfect game a short couple weeks later on mother’s day, of all days, and one would think that the unwritten rules would be left behind.  Alas, that is not the case.  A day after the perfect game took place, http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Braden-s-perfecto-could-ve-ended-on-an-unwritten?urn=mlb,239740, was on the front page of Yahoo.

In short, the article brought attention to Evan Longoria’s bunt attempt to lead off the 5th inning against Braden.  One of baseball’s debateable unwritten rules is that a hitter shouldn’t attempt to break up a no-hitter or perfect game with a bunt.  Regardless of how you feel about the unwritten rule, it’s obviously not meant to be used in the fifth inning of a ballgame.  Dallas Braden was 12 outs into the game.  That’s not even 45% of the way to the perfect game.  Anyone that was thinking about a perfect game at that point is insane.  Do you realize how often that happens?  I don’t count, but I’d imagine a pitcher goes 4 innings without yielding a hit on more nights than not.  That’s barely getting through the order once.

Yet this is what lingers in the wake of a perfect game.  Not just a perfect game, but a perfect game on mother’s day.  Not just a perfect game, but a perfect game on mother’s day by a young pitcher who lost his mother, and was raised by his grandmother who happened to be in the park that day.  This was the story of the year, and the story itself quickly became overshadowed by something that isn’t a story at all.

Baseball’s unwritten rules are unwritten for a reason.  They aren’t cemented, they aren’t absolute.  They’re about intent and playing the game the “right” way.  Longoria’s intent in the fifth inning is not to break up a perfect game, it’s to get something going.  You can argue the same thing in the eighth inning, which is why that’s a questionable unwritten rule to begin with.  However, the game was not defined by a possible perfect game in the fifth, no game is at that point.  A perfect game was not in Braden’s grasp, he wasn’t even half way there.  What Longoria did does not violate any rule, period.

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