With this past weekend's theatrics between the Tigers and Angels, Oriole fans had to be reminded of the situation a few weeks ago with the O's and the Red Sox. We see several situations as such each year, where it appears that both teams are wearing flames on their shirtsleeves. Nevertheless, the question is who's right and who's wrong? The funny thing is that in both cases I saw several analysts, players, etc. come out and talk about how they don't necessarily mind guys breaking the traditional "unwritten codes of the game." Detroit manager Jim Leyland even said that he didn't necessarily have a problem with Alex Aybar trying to break up Justin Verlander's no-hitter with a bunt. So again, where does justice lie?
For those that go by the solemn letter of the law, many of the aspects of the uwnritten codes are not in the rule books (hence the term unwritten) Throwing at or hitting someone is. So in that sense Jared Weaver is the true villain here seeing that Carlos Guillen's showboating act during his HR trot is not technically against the rules. Going back to the fight at the Fens, that would mean that Kevin Gregg was the true villain. However I digress; my personal stance is that those unwritten rules are almost more important than the word of the written law in baseball. That may well be an unpopular and antiquated manner of thinking, speaking, or in my case writing, but it's how I feel. For those who haven't seen Guillen's HR trot, he stood at home plate long enough to set the table, and then almost proceeded to do a little dance up the line. Baseball's a game steeped in tradition and respect; that kind of excuberance goes against the grain of the game. The same can be said of David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis' antics over time against the O's.
So back to that rulebook; can you really blame teams for retaliating? In Weaver's case, I'm not sure I would have thrown over the guy's head. Had he simply hit the batter in the back or ribs odds are he might not have been suspended for the six games he received. However he threw over the guy's head; a big no-no. Then came the sequence where Alex Aybar bunted. The unwritten rule is that you don't square to bunt in a no-hitter after the sixth inning. Some people like to say that the idea is to get on base, not allow the pitcher to waltz into a no-hitter, etc. However I agree with the premise of the code; if you're going to break it up, do it the honest way. On top of that, I've even heard some Angels' fans grumbling that Verlander purposely threw the ball away because an error would keep his no-hitter in tact. Players have too much pride to do something like that, so I don't buy into that. However again, the onus there is on Aybar to have enough respect for the game and for his opponent to not do something like that. Under no circumstances can I justify EVER bunting during a no-hitter like that. Some people bring up the idea of what if it's 1-0? (In fact, the score ended up being 3-2.) My attitude is that it doesn't matter. The integrity and pruity of the game and in a potential no-hitter/perfect game is more important than one win. That might sound like the wrong attitude, however that's just my line of thinking.
Here's the other thing; any player or coach that says they're indifferent to the unwritten rules is either lying or they don't know what they're talking about. It's fine and dandy to say that when you're uninvolved in the situation. However if you're the team that's being shown up (as the O's have often been), there comes a point where you're going to stick up for yourself. There are unwritten codes so to speak in all walks of life. If you're fighting a wawr and your opponent comes out of his bunker waving a white flag, you're supposed to say hold fire. If someone puts on their turn signal, you're supposed to let them into the lane. These are two very different examples, but they're both unwritten codes that should be respected. And so should those in MLB.