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
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.
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.