The unwritten rules seem to be taking a place of prominence in the American media landscape right now. If, as I suspect, the reason many old-timers talked to us for The Baseball Codes was that they didn’t want to see the Code fray any further than it already has in the modern game, they must be delighted with this turn of events.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick recently discussed a handful of rules with three prominent pitchers from the 1970s: Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven and Goose Gossage.
As it happens, we interviewed all three for the book, and their opinions haven’t changed a bit since we talked to them. (Blyleven, in fact, was one of the dozen or so players who actively discussed with us the rule about not running across a pitcher’s mound. He was also the most fiery about it.)
There are some terrific stories in the article, but seeing them in such a truncated format makes it strikingly clear that they must all eventually come around to one thing: retaliation. No matter what the offense—showing up a player, stealing signs, peeking at pitches, etc.—the stories that illustrate them are inevitably punctuated with baseballs aimed at ribcages.
The same held true for the vast majority of the stories we elicited from players. It’s why the retaliation chapter is the book’s biggest.
That’s the beauty of the Code (especially when the interview subject is a pitcher): the concept of making sure violations don’t happen again on your watch.
Update: Ex-Houston Astros All-Star and current baseball blogger Morgan Ensberg has posted an interview with himself in which he addresses many of these issues from a hitter’s standpoint.