The unwritten rules of baseball are such because baseball has long been thought of as a gentleman’s sport. They’re undefined, but simultaneously, blatantly apparent. You don’t bunt or steal aggressively with a big lead. You don’t walk across a pitcher’s mound. But perhaps the most well known, unwritten rule of baseball is one centered around a less-than-gentlemanly understanding: retaliation can and will occur should you attack my teammate.
Throw at my guy? My pitcher throws at yours. That’s how baseball’s seemingly archaic top unwritten rule has been for years. It’s rooted in pride. It’s rooted in bravado. It’s rooted in oneness, in sticking up for your teammate, in showing you’re not afraid to back down from a challenge.
For context, for those who perhaps missed what occurred in the finale of a three-game weekend series between the Phillies and Braves, a series that was dominated from start to finish by Philadelphia, was that Rhys Hoskins was thrown at after Bryce Harper hit his second home run in three games in Philadelphia. The comments that were only seen as mouthed by Hoskins on TV were, what the kids call, NSFW, or Not Safe For Work. After the game, Phillies’ Manager Gabe Kapler put it a little more
So why, then, is the headline of this titled, “Not This Time?” Well, despite Kapler’s comments after the game, this is a new era of managerial decisions. The tough guy, hotshot, “fire up my club” manager’s days are dwindling with the old regime. The new crew, while willing to defend their players, are more analytically driven, focused on winnings games at all cost. Retaliation equals nothing more than putting runners on base and giving pitchers smaller windows of opportunity to spot pitches where they want to. After retaliation, especially a known retaliation, will only lead to pinched strike zones and pitcher’s unwillingness to throw inside for fear of ejection.
Retaliation stirs up far more controversy than it does relay a message for new-age managers. Gabe Kapler, through and through, is a new age manager. Kapler will likely have his own opinions on the matter, and the comments he made in the postgame press conference were rated-PG as to not get fined. At the end of the day, the Phillies have 16 more games with the Atlanta Braves and 159 more games in the regular season. With the division as close as many anticipate, putting runners on base for the sake of manhood is not wise.
If the Phillies want to show the world that they’re willing to retaliate, do it on the field. Do exactly what you did to Atlanta in the first three games of the season: crush them into submission with this new-look lineup of yours. This team isn’t going to go 162-0, but a positive record will be achieved by looking past this in a way that doesn’t involve ejections, suspension
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports