MLB: Unwritten Rules Need to Disappear From the Game

MLB and it’s unwritten rules are at the forefront once again after events unfolded Monday night between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins. 

You may remember last year when Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a grand slam against the Texas Rangers, up by seven runs, on a 3-0 pitch. The Rangers retaliated by throwing behind Manny Machado on the next pitch. Well the same situation happened earlier this week.

White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes came up to bat with two outs in the ninth with his team leading 15-4. In order to save some of their bullpen arms, the Twins brought in a position player to pitch the final inning. Mercedes proceeded to hit a home run to center on a 3-0 count. Also the pitch came in at 47 mph. 

Much like the Rangers didn’t like what Tatis did, the Twins felt the same about Mercedes. But this is only the beginning of what would unfold over the next couple of days. So much of what happened is wrong and none of the fault is on Mercedes. There is nothing wrong swinging the bat in any count at any point in the game. The unwritten rules need to go. 

The first problem is with the Twins. Well it’s actually three problems. First, if you feel disrespected for whatever reason, then play better and don’t get blown out. Frustration may be setting in as the Twins sit in last place in the American League Central despite being the preseason favorite to win the division and make the MLB playoffs. Second, don’t throw three straight balls to get the count to 3-0. Third, the Twins put in a position player serving up slowpitch softballs. If you don’t put in a real pitcher, then it is very likely strikes may not be thrown. Also if a ball is lobbed up to the plate at 50 mph, hitters will hit the ball a long way. 

The next problem is with White Sox manager Tony La Russa who spoke to the media and scolded his own player. All La Russa had to do was say that he would talk to him about it, behind closed doors, and go from there. Much like the Padres did last year. Instead he went after his own player almost more so than the opponents.

This prompted some White Sox players such as Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn to publicly support Mercedes. But La Russa doubled down with his criticism saying, “Lance has a locker, I have an office.” La Russa is trying to show that he is the boss. Unfortunately for La Russa today’s front offices will, and should, side with the players and get rid of the coach first because the players determine wins and losses.

La Russa should be thankful Mercedes is swinging away. He is the best hitter in all of baseball, leading MLB with a .358 batting average. When a guy is in a zone like that, teams and managers should want him to stay in that zone at all costs. With key injuries to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, the White Sox wouldn’t be in the position they are in without Mercedes.

I wish that was the end of the story but it’s baseball. The next day Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffy threw behind Mercedes in the seventh inning. He was suspended three games. Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli received a one game suspension. Like I said earlier, the Twins are at fault here too because of who they decided to let pitch and how he pitched. Yet they feel the need to retaliate because they didn’t play well and gave up a lot of runs.

Maybe La Russa didn’t feel like he lost his locker room enough. After Tuesday’s game he supported the actions of the Twins. It is very odd he didn’t have a problem with them throwing behind his best hitter. 

There is nothing wrong swinging at a 3-0 pitch in any situation. Especially when the other team essentially gives up, or makes a mockery of the game by having a guy serve it up at 50 mph. Hitters are paid to hit and get their stats.

There is only one thing teams should never do when leading by a substantial margin, no stealing. But all the other unwritten rules can disappear. There’s a reason they are unwritten. If they were important enough, they would be actual rules.

The White Sox currently sit in first place in the American League Central. After reaching the postseason last year, they have high expectations of making a run in the playoffs. Time will tell if this divides the locker room or not. If it does, La Russa may not be around much longer should the players band together to get him out.

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You can follow Tyler Samsel on Twitter @tylersamsel.

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