Let me tell you about all of Major League Baseball’s unwritten rules that should be followed:
Did you get that?
We’ve wasted days debating about San Diego Padres superstar-in-the-making, Fernando Tatis Jr., hitting a grand slam on a 3-0 count in a 10-3 game in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers.
The old, crusty gatekeepers of baseball’s “unwritten rules” clutched their chests and gasped in horror as it apparently isn’t tasteful for a player to swing on a 3-0 pitch — let alone with the bases loaded while your team is up seven runs.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward wasn’t happy with it. Though, he should probably focus on his own team, which was 10-13 following four-straight losses entering Thursday night’s action.
Tatis’ manager, Jayce Tingler, wasn’t necessarily thrilled, either, that Tatis ignored a take sign and instead deposited Juan Nicasio’s offering into the right-field seats.
A 3-0 count, regardless of the score or situation, is a hitter’s count. One of the hardest things to do in sports is hit a round ball with a round bat. So how is it fair to pass up on the opportunity of crushing a meatball when a player’s performance — and most importantly, his salary — is based solely off statistics?
I don’t care what the score is, if there’s a prime chance for me to add a home run and four RBI to my stat line, I’m taking that chance. And I don’t care whose feelings get hurt in the process.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond broke this down perfectly. Since 2015, batters are hitting .394 with a .829 slugging percentage on 3-0 counts. Mainly because pitchers are throwing grooved fastballs down the plate 95% of the time.
What probably bothers me the most though is the hypocrisy that’s coming from Major League Baseball — which at this point, isn’t surprising considering just how little commissioner Rob Manfred and his merry band of rule-makers care about the product and the fans.
Just two years ago, MLB trotted out a campaign imploring all the naysayers and old-schoolers to “Let The Kids Play.”
It’s the exact message baseball needs when considering it’s a sport that continues to fade in the court of public opinion — as much as I hate to admit it.
Baseball is slowly filling with exciting, young stars that need to be properly marketed for the game. Tatis Jr. is one of them.
So when it’s a 10-3 game that’s already over and it’s midnight on the east coast, what entertainment value does the youngster taking that 3-0 pitch do?
What good comes from him descending back into the pitchers’ advantage and pulling a grounder to the shortstop instead?
Let them add another big fly to the stat sheet.
Let them bat flip and watch their home run.
Let them inject charisma and bravado to help wipe away the dust.
Let them entertain a fan base that could be a little bigger and maybe even catch the eyes of sports networks that incessantly talk about nothing but basketball and football.
Let them just play.