Rules are integral to any sport, but unwritten rules? Yeah, we could do without those.
Major League Baseball is apparently unaware of this.
In recent weeks, Manny Machado has shown the world what happens when you inadvertently spike an All-Star second baseman during a slide. You get head-hunted, and your career – and life – are jeopardized.
Baseball may want to address that.
“I understand where it comes from,” legendary baseball broadcaster Gary Thorne said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show, referring to the unwritten rules of retaliation. “I understand there have always been the unwritten rules in the game. But it’s like everything else in life. It’s on a continuum, and at some point, there has to be a line where it stops, and the line has to at least be where there’s a potential for injury. That’s what happened when (Chris) Sale (threw) at Manny at 97 miles per hour. It’s what happened (with) the pitch that he took behind his head, which is even more dangerous. That can’t happen. It just can’t happen. That’s got to stop.”
An inappropriate slide. A bat flip. A slow home-run trot. Anything and everything can lead to injuries, brawls, concussions, and suspensions.
Hockey has moved beyond fighting; baseball may want to move beyond its eye-for-an-eye underpinnings.
“This throwing at people as a retaliatory move, unfortunately, I don’t think is going to stop unless the penalty that is imposed for it is really severe – where you’ve got a pitcher that’s going to be taken out for a start or maybe two or three starts, or a reliever who’s going to be out for 10 days to two weeks,” Thorne said. “When it really starts to hurt the ball club, then the stuff will stop – and I think it’s time in Major League Baseball that that happened. I think that’s the only way. I really do. I think if you don’t do that, players are going to continue to retaliate and continue to respond in the way they have in the past. This whole macho thing gets out of control, and unless there’s a penalty to be paid for it, it’s not going to stop, and the penalties aren’t big enough. They’re not deep enough.”
But they could be if baseball intervenes.
“If you take a starter out for three starts and not allow him to be replaced on the roster, you’ve got a severe penalty,” Thorne said. “If you take a reliever out of the bullpen for 10 days and not allow a replacement, you’re really hurting the team. So then you get the reverse going on. You get the guys recognizing, ‘If I do this, I’m hurting my ball club.’ That’s when it will stop. But unless you do that, I don’t think it will.”