It took all of six innings into the Braves-Cubs season opener for the unwritten rules to crop up.
In the top of the frame, Chicago’s Aramis Ramirez, on first base, saw Braves center fielder Nate McLouth clearly trap a fly ball hit by Marlon Byrd, and trotted to second. According to the umpires, however, McLouth made the catch, and the Braves doubled up Ramirez at first. Instead of two on and nobody out, the Cubs inexplicably had nobody on and two outs. (See the video here.)
While McLouth wasn’t guilty of the hey-I-caught-it gesture of displaying ball in glove for the world to see, typical among outfield trappers, neither did he make any effort to correct the record with the umpires.
Nor should he have.
Trapping the ball falls into the Code’s category of “gamesmanship,” with the understanding that while honesty might be the best policy in society, doing what it takes to win a game is the best policy in big-league baseball. It’s a pantomime act that is not only accepted by other ballplayers, but expected.