Just Play Ball! (07/31/01)
I tried to ignore this topic after the Ben Davis incident this year, but it has come up again and again and I feel something needs to be said. As far as any unwritten rules in baseball, there are no unwritten rules!
Anyone who is complaining about someone defying a code of honor is simply whining that they didn't get their way. You play baseball, or any sport for that matter, as hard as you can for as long as you can and then the game ends. It's that simple.
In the Ben Davis case, Curt Schilling was trying to finish the eighth inning of a game in which he had a no hitter. The score was 2-0. Davis, the Pads' catcher, tried to bunt for a base hit. If I were playing the D-backs, I would do that regardless of the situation as that team is as old and immobile as any in recent memory. But nevertheless, Davis tried to bunt his way on, not only to break up the no-hitter, but to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of slugger Bubba Trammell. The controversy seems even more ludicrous given Schilling's penchant for giving up homers. Getting a man on base was paramount given that a home run was the most likely way for the Pads to tie and perhaps win the game.
Anyway, Davis laid down an awful bunt, what amounted to a short blooper between the pitching mound and second. Of course, neither the Schilling nor Jay Bell could get to the ball and the no-hitter was gone. And the tying run came to the plate. But all anyone was talking about was the nasty things that the D-backs, especially manager Bob Brenly but even "nice guy" Luis Gonzales, were saying to and about Davis' for his effort. Ridiculous.
The latest scrap involves Rickey Henderson taking second base on a catcher's indifference in the 7th inning of a game in which the Pads were up 12-5 on the Brewers. Brewer's manager Davey Lopes got up in arms that Rickey and the Pads were trying to run up the score on his team.
In case no one on the Brewers had noticed, a seven run lead with more than an inning left in the game hasn't exactly been safe this year or in recent memory for that matter. Just 2 days before this incident, the Pirates, a team with about as woeful an offense as you'll find in the National League, managed to score 7 runs in the ninth inning off a decent Astros' bullpen and a very good Astros' closer to win a game. Six or more runs have been scored in a single inning 10 times in the last week! Seven or more runs have been scored in an inning 12 times in July alone, and 44 times this season, including 2 games in which 7+ runs were scored in back-to-back innings. Yet the Brewers were complaining that the Pads' lead of 7 runs in the 7th inning was so insurmountable that the Pads would be guilty of trying to run up the score if they stole a base. Utterly preposterous..
Given how quickly teams can score runs in this environment, doesn't the Diamondbacks complaining look even more absurd?
Look, if your team wants to quit and roll over, fine. Let 'em. But don't ask other teams to do the same and don't complain if other teams decide to play the game with maximum effort. A lot of crazy things can happen in baseball and few things are assured, even 7-run leads. So stop whining about unwritten rules being broken and just play ball!
© 2001, All Rights Reserved