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Baseball's Stupidest Unwritten Rules

Most sports choose to collect and codify their rules in a single location, often referred to as a "rule book." Not baseball, though. The game practically luxuriates in its unwritten rules, and as a result encourages the type of self-policing that would, if applied to an urban population, result in wide-scale anarchy.

Here, then, is a thorough debunking of the unwritten rules that demand to be re-unwritten, or something. We're prepared to take a retaliatory heater in the back for our outspokenness, which of course violates an unwritten rule.


"No bunting when an opposing pitcher is working on a no-hitter."
WHY IT'S STUPID: Because the point of the game is to win, not to serve as destiny's mistress. Avoiding the cheap hit is acceptable if, say, your team is down by 10, but otherwise you attempt to put runs on the board using every tool at your disposal: bunts, air horns, hurtful characterizations of the hurler's maternal forbears, etc. That holds double if the pitcher chasing perfection is a Schilling-caliber ass.


"No mentioning a no-hitter when it's happening, not even if you're broadcasting it."
WHY IT'S STUPID: Because while reality-denial holds an important place in everyday life, especially when wayward family or federal tax tribunals are involved, no party to the no-no benefits from deliberate ignorance of the situation at hand. Superstition is for the weak and the unaccountable.


"No excessive celebrating after a strikeout."
WHY IT'S STUPID: Because strikeouts are awesome, especially if they come on a high fastball that prompts a borderline apologetic swing from the opposing batter. A few fist-pumps and guttural roars aren't going to undermine any major leaguer's sense of self. Rage away.


"No admiring your own home run."
WHY IT'S STUPID: Because you're special! Nobody hits the ball as far or as hard as you do, Barry! Frankly, it'd be a betrayal of your supreme preeminence if you didn't watch it soar majestically fence-ward.


"No piling on when you're up by more than five runs."
WHY IT'S STUPID:
Because even though offense is down in 2010, no lead is safe given the Eckstein-sized ballparks and the beer-league talent masquerading as middle relievers. It's amazing this take-the-foot-off-the-gas rule endured through the offensive high times of the 1990s and early 2000s, when half the league was actively engaged in the type of "weight training" that led to many a 12-10 slugfest and subsequent road-rage incident.


"No stealing bases when you're up by more than five runs."
WHY IT'S STUPID:
See immediately above. But also, because it'd be a tragedy to add some fan-pleasing action to a game in which the final outcome has practically been preordained. You can only expect so much excitement and whimsy for your $37.50 (parking and novelty oversized foam finger not included).


"No cutting across the pitcher's mound on the way back to first base."
WHY IT'S STUPID:
Because when you think about it, a pitcher's territorial claim to the mound is about as enforceable as a squatter's: If the manager-type person (the housing policeman in this tortured analogy) says "Scram!" the pitcher has no choice but to obey. Also, nobody even knew this unwritten rule had been written until Dallas Braden called out Alex Rodriguez for violating it. The nonexistent unwritten rules committee hadn't yet weighed in.


"No yelling, jostling or otherwise distracting opposing fielders while they're in the act of, like, fielding."
WHY IT'S STUPID:
Because the aforementioned Alex Rodriguez, whose sonically discordant "Ha!" prompted a Toronto infielder to drop an easy pop-up a few seasons back, can only write so many unwritten rules. His contract lists his professional responsibilities as hitting home runs and preening, nothing more. Let somebody else play unwritten King Solomon.