Don't Swing on the First Pitch After Back-to-Back Home RUns, Ryan Spilborghs

Spilborghs Swings at First Pitch after Back-to-Back Jacks; Costs Reader Beef

Welcome to the Memorial Day edition of the Reader Mailbag. This is the first one we’ve ever done.

Dear Mr. Turbow:

My name is Michael Baker and I live in Denver, Colorado. I recently read your article about the “Unwritten Rules of Baseball.”

I thoroughly enjoyed your article, especially Unwritten Rule #1- Don’t Swing at the First Pitch After Back-to-Back Home Runs.

After the Rockies hit back-to-back jacks yesterday I stood up and told my three buddies about “Rule #1.” I then guaranteed, and even bet one guy a steak dinner, that the next batter would not swing at the first pitch. Two seconds later, Ryan Spilborghs swung at the first pitch and crushed a ball over the left field fence.

I humbly request that you send me a check for $150 to cover my expenses as I buy my friend a steak dinner and to compensate me for my humiliation, pain and suffering.

Please mail the check to:

Mr. Michael Baker
XXXXX
Greenwood Village, CO

The check does not have to be certified, I know you are good for it. Cash is acceptable as well.

I can provide wire instructions if that is easier for you.

Sincerely Yours,

Michael  Baker

Michael,

I’m sorry to hear about your lost wager. Steak dinners can be precious commodities.

Unfortunately, I’m merely the messenger for the Code, and am unable to enforce its adherence among the major league ranks.

The notion is to give a touch of professional courtesy to a pitcher who is clearly struggling–a single pitch with which to find his focus and right his ship. It’s known as a “courtesy take,” and it was especially prominent with Sparky Anderson and his Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s.

“Let him know, okay, I’m not swinging,” said Hal McRae, who played on those Cincinnati ballclubs. “I know you’re out there trying to do a job.”

These days, fewer players follow this piece of code. The instance in question also contains some gray area: When Spilborghs came to the plate, the Rockies held a five-run lead in the seventh. In Coors Field, that’s hardly considered safe. Spilborghs can be justifiably criticized for lack of decorum, but so too can he mount a defense that the score was close enough to attack the opposition in any way he could.

Colorado visits San Francisco this Monday. I’ll try to track down the perpetrator for comment at some point during the series.

As you dine, please try not to think of opportunities lost, but of friendships gained through the purveyance of beef.

And thanks for reading.

– Jason

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4 thoughts on “Spilborghs Swings at First Pitch after Back-to-Back Jacks; Costs Reader Beef

  1. Not sure I believe the story about the steak dinner, but pretty wild that he hit the 3rd homer on the first pitch.

  2. in the a’s vs. red sox game this past thursday, gross swung at the first pitch after back to back hr’s in the 8th. granted the game was very close, but where’s the line?

    1. It’s an extremely gray line in this case. In the first place, the rule is largely out-dated. I’m not sure there was ever a time that the majority of players abided by it, but in the modern game, only a select few are even cognizant of it.

      Even if Gross considered it, it was a 9-6 game at the time of the swing. If one judged his action based on courtesy alone, he’s in clear violation of the Code; it’s difficult to fault him, however, for trying to tack on runs to a thin lead in Fenway Park.

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