Friday, December 15th, 2017

Enforcing the informal rules of the game

June 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Make Up

Maybe I am officially old school now but I cannot believe what my eyes saw during the Phillies-Marlins series.  Actually, it has more to do with what my eyes didn’t see.  Let me set the stage.

  • To date, the Marlins have the worst record in baseball.
  • Their organization has been blasted for getting rid of their talent.  Their well publicized “lack of talent” cannot be sitting too well with current players.
  • There have been multiple articles written about how the Marlins may end up being the “worst team in MLB history” in terms of losses.  Probably not easy to read as a player either.
  • They lost the first three games of the Phillies series en route to being swept after the fourth.

Based on these alone, you could probably imagine that the Marlins clubhouse has not been a fun and lively place.  In my experience with a couple poor teams in my career, this kind of clubhouse can turn into a powder keg ready to explode.  Which is exactly what I was predicting to a few friends before the fourth game of the series when I emailed to them … “I’m calling it now.  Bench clearer during the Phils-Marlins game today.”  The reason I was convinced it was going to happen wasn’t just because of the frustration caused from the things listed above.  It also had to do with something Phillies’ outfielder Domonic Brown did.

Here is the explanation from an AP article.

“Domonic Brown took a hop and skip out of the batter’s box, made an exaggerated bat flip, stutter-stepped around first base like Rickey Henderson, and exchanged a choreographed hand shake with Ryan Howard at the plate followed by a semi-bow.”


Now … it’s one thing to be on a bad team.  Play long enough and you’re going to be on at least one.  Bad teams don’t win too many games.  So, if you are the Marlins it is probably not all that surprising to hear reporters call you “the worst.”  As a player, you may not like it but you at least know it is part of the job. 

However …

When a team or player you are losing to acts like Domonic Brown after home runs, it tends to get the hair on player’s necks to stand up.  Players can handle losing and hearing about it from reporters and fans.  Having their noses rubbed in it by opposing players and teams is an entirely different story.  That is NEVER (so I thought) allowed to stand without a firm response.  Especially from a team with the typical frustration that goes with many losses.  Usually the response involves a pitch to someone’s rib cage.  Thus my email. 

If the score wasn’t close in the final game of the series, I was absolutely certain someone on the Phils was going to pay.  Probably Domonic Brown.  When the final score of the last game gave the Phillies a 6-1 win and the Marlins did absolutely nothing, I have to admit I was shocked.  When I saw the highlights of the game, I nearly fell off the couch because not only did Domonic Brown hit another home run to open up the score, he once again did the same stupid celebration routine.  I will add that this is the same Domonic Brown who, coming into this season, had a career major league batting average of .236 with 102 hits and 93 strikeouts over three seasons.  Not exactly Barry Bonds numbers to say the least.

And the Marlins did nothing.

Brown's homerun routine ending with a bow

Brown’s homerun routine ending with a bow at home plate.                                         The catcher is not impressed.

There are times in pro ball when a manager will see all of this occurring and tell their guys that retaliation will come in the future.  Basically, the order NOT to retaliate is given and obeyed.  Maybe this was the case.  However, in my experience, there is always at least one player who gets on the top step or a pitcher who comes off the mound and verbally tells the other team or player in no uncertain terms that they do not approve of their conduct.  Words are exchanged and chests are thumped.  The retaliation may come later but the show of disapproval is usually immediate. 

But the Marlins did nothing … and it concerns me.

In every sport, the officials enforce the formal rules of the game.  In baseball, this includes balls/strikes, safe/out, fair/foul, out of the baseline, balks, etc.  That leaves teammates, opposing players, coaches, fans, and organizations to enforce the many informal rules of the game.  Things like wearing your uniform correctly, hustling, and in this case, home run etiquette and respect for the game as well as the other team.

My concern for baseball is that if players and teams stop enforcing the informal rules of the game then it will soon become the NBA and the NFL where celebration dances, trash talking, and selfish behavior will be the norm.  I can’t watch the NFL or NBA because of that.  They have become more “show” than sport. 

Maybe the Marlins didn’t think the behavior warranted retaliation.  Maybe they just didn’t care.  Either one doesn’t make them look very good. 

What it does is make them look soft.  At least it does to me.  And “soft” is just about the worst possible word in the entire English language that a professional player wants to be described as.

Maybe this is just an overreaction on my part.  For the sake of the game, I hope it is.


Note:  In my opinion, retaliation for such things should not occur in the levels below the professional ones.  I see a difference between the norms of amateur ball and pro ball.  I have addressed this view on a few  occasions, one of which is linked below if you are interested.

The forbidden conversation



3 Responses to “Enforcing the informal rules of the game”
  1. Joe Posch says:

    Dear Coach,

    Please accept my apology on behalf of Phillie Nation for Domonic Brown’s ridiculous post HR celebrations. Please don’t try not to take it personally. He means no disrespect. He’s just an idiot.

    Joe Posch
    Phillies Faithful since 1974

  2. Joe Posch says:

    *Please try not to

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