Unwritten-Rules

Newspaper Comes Up with the Next 10 Codes on the List

It took four years to come up with enough unwritten rules (and examples to illustrate them) to fill a book.

Writing about The Baseball Codes, Robert Rubino of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat just wrote Vol. 2 for us before the paper went to press yesterday, with a column featuring “the top 10 unwritten rules that didn’t make it into the book.”

In inverse order, they include:

10. Spit like a man.

9. The rebellious third-base coach (who habitually and exclusively stands outside the coach’s box).

8. Arguing with umpires. Rubino only devotes a paragraph to the topic, but he’s actually on to something here. The initial draft of the book contained a section about proper methods for effectively arguing with arbiters (for example, attack the call, not the umpire), but it was cut for space considerations.

7. Closers’ fashion and histrionics. “Facial hair, earrings and necklaces are pretty much trademarks of ninth-inning relief pitchers,” he writes. Again, he’s on to something . . .  sort of. The initial draft contained an entire chapter on facial hair, which may yet see the light of publication one day.

6. The etiquette of post-game interviews.

5. Outfielders should slide whenever possible while making catches, the better to make highlight reels.

4. Refrain from picking your nose. Not good on TV.

3. Bullpen residents must perfect “the look of unendurable boredom with a clearly discernible sliver of mindless mischief.” For more on this topic, see one of the books we used as a primary reference, Pen Men, by Bob Cairns. It’s an excellent read.

2. Middle infielders should always use the phantom tag.

1. Appropriate cup adjustment. “Be proud,” writes Rubino. “Be bold.”

It’s a fun list that’s obviously not meant to be taken too seriously. Rubino, however—possibly despite himself—actually scratched the surface of a few interesting topics that are legitimately Code-worthy. It just goes to illustrate that there will be a lot of blogging to do this season.

– Jason

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2 thoughts on “Newspaper Comes Up with the Next 10 Codes on the List

  1. Another category of … well, I guess they’re not unwritten “rules” exactly, but some players do abide by them carefully … would be baseball superstitions. Your book touched on the “don’t talk about the no-hitter” superstition (loudly dismissed, by the way, on today’s Fox telecast by Tim McCarver when CC Sabathia took a no-hitter into the 8th inning). I’m sure there’s at least a chapter full of interesting stuff. My favorite involves my high school coach — a legendary figure in these parts, winningest coach in the State and now in his 52nd year of coaching. But he was quite superstitious — we would always have to be on guard in the dugout, for example, that no bat ever crossed another bat. Bad luck, you see, if that ever happened — and he would yell at whoever was nearby who let it happen. Anyway, this was many years ago. It was Friday evening, and we were playing in the City Championship semifinal the next day. On his way home from practice that night, Coach was deep in thought, I guess, and got off the wrong exit and took a wrong turn which took him 45 minutes out of his way. We won the semifinal game the next day to get us into the City Championship game the following Saturday. Well, Coach decided not to change his luck. Every night the following week after practice he took that same wrong exit and wrong turn and got home 45 minutes later than he would have otherwise. Yes, we won the City Championship game, so maybe he was onto something.

    1. Your coach was a baseball guy, Mike — that much is clear. Whereas most unwritten rules are rooted in the concept of respect, this one is pure superstition. Bob Brenly told us how he couldn’t stop rapping his knuckles on the end of Matt Kata’s bat during the Randy Johnson’s perfect game, lest his change of action somehow constitute a jinx. “I’m a firm believer in the baseball Gods,” he said. “You show them their due respect and they will reward you.”

      (Also from that D-Backs team, Curt Schilling didn’t actually see the epic Game 7 comeback against Mariano Rivera in the 2001 World Series because he had been sitting behind Randy Johnson, and “you can’t move when there’s a rally going.” Schilling told Playboy: “The one time in that inning when I jumped up to see what was happening, we bunted into an out at third base.”

      We count superstition among the respect-based unwritten rules because, within the deliberateness of baseball, both categories are imbued with all sorts of meaning by players, be it the other team trying to send a message, or Bob Brenly’s baseball Gods offering their own variety of influence.

      -jt-

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