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The Dumbest Unwritten Rules of Baseball

Baseball is a game of attrition. Players who make it to the highest level of professional baseball have an unusually high confidence in their abilities. They have to possess that confidence to survive the gauntlet that is the path to the majors. Baseball, during its infancy, was a sport played by rough men. It was not a profession that respected men took up. These men preferred to govern themselves rather than submit to a higher authority. This, one would imagine, became the foundation for the game’s lengthy and often times confusing list of unwritten rules. Here is a list of the 10 dumbest unwritten rules of baseball.

  1. Don’t Steal When You Have A Lead

  2. Evidently, baseball should just have an unwritten rule that says you have to stop trying to score runs after a certain inning with a certain lead. The idea that a player or team should stop an aggressive style of play because they are ahead by a certain number of runs is just plain dumb. If you’re losing and the other teams is stealing bases I suggest you figure out how to throw them out.

  3. Retaliation

  4. This is best summed up as “An eye for an eye.” You hit one of my guys and one of my guys is going to hit one of your guys. They call it protecting your teammate. This form of “protection” almost always ends up with every player and coach from each team on the field throwing punches and tripping over each other in a huge an ugly melee that is more likely to cause harm to those whom you’re trying to “protect”.

  5. Don’t Run Up The Score In A Blowout

  6. Major League Baseball has no “mercy” rule for a reason. At this level, any team can come back from any deficit on any given day against any given team. I guess certain people in the game can’t seem to understand that fact. Again, at some arbitrary time during a game when it has reached a certain inning and the lead is a certain number the team winning is supposed to not continue to try and score runs. If you’re a believer allow me to remind you of a game on August 5, 2001 between the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians. The Mariners led the Indians 14-2 at the completion of the 5th inning. With four innings left to play the Indians started pulling every player of significance. They would eventually beat the Mariners in 11 innings. One of the great things about baseball is until you have made your last out you can still win the game.

  7. Always Let The Center Fielder Get The Ball

  8. Being the “captain” of the outfield doesn’t mean you should be able to call for every ball you can get to. The intelligent center fielders know when the corner outfielders have a better angle. Or if the runner is tagging sometimes the corner outfielder will have a better angle for an on-target throw or he just might have a better arm. Just because you can get to the ball doesn’t mean you should be the one to make the catch. The game is about stragey and communication.

  9. Don’t Bunt To Break Up A No-Hitter

  10. There is a faction of people, even at the game’s highest level, where a bunt attempt is not considered okay if a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter. So, I ask those who agree with this “rule”, at what point during the game is a bunt unacceptable? Is it the fourth, sixth, eighth? Whatever inning it is it is an arbitrary number. The goal of every team during every game, even if they are in the late innings and being no-hit is to score runs and win the game. A successful bunt could be the catalyst the offense needs to start a rally. My suggestion to those who don’t think this is okay: learn to defend the bunt and you won’t have anything to worry about.

  11. Never Make The First Or Third Out At Third Base

  12. For as long as I can remember there exists this singular baserunning rule that stands taller than them all and this is it. This was drilled into my head as a little leaguer. Second base is considered scoring position. From here a single will score a runner on second most of the time. Don’t kill a rally old-timers will say. For 30 years or so I drank the kool-aid though the aggressive side of me wanted to put up a fight but I could not logically make a solid argument. Then I stumbled upon an article titled “Base Running, 25 Ways To Score From Third Base, But Not From Second Base!” While nothing on the list is a common occurrence the 25 combined happen often enough for me to have the foundation for my new philosophy on making an out at third base.

  13. Don’t Show Up The Pitcher When You Hit A Home Run

  14. This is based on the idea that what you do following your home run has something to do with the pitcher, which most times it doesn’t. It’s also completely subjective. Apparently, when a player hits a home run or some other type of big hit his actions get to be judged solely by the opposing team which he just outperformed. Hmm, I wonder how they are going to take it? He’s not allowed to watch his homer, jog to slowly (again subjective) around the bases, or say anything to the opposing team as he round the bases. If any of those happen and the pitcher or someone from the other team doesn’t like it they are allowed to steal the spotlight by going “Alpha Male” on him. Basically, he is supposed to quickly move around the bases with his head down and not say anything to anyone or show any emotions.

    Don’t like batters showing you up after hitting a bomb? I suggest you not give up the homer. Otherwise, shut up and take it like a man.

  15. Everyone Should Be On The Field During an On-Field Fight

  16. In basketball players get fined for coming off the bench during a fight. In football, fighting is nearly a part of the game, and hockey, well, it’s hockey. But in baseball, every player is, not so subtly, expected to join in or at least be on the field near the ensuing fisticuffs. Even the players in the bullpens come jogging or sprinting onto the field most of the time just to stand around and seemingly talk with each other or players from the other team. If you’re not involved in the altercation or you’re not trying to break it up just stay on the bench or in the pen.

  17. Don’t Talk About A No-Hitter During The No-Hiiter

  18. I’m not sure when or where this started but for practicality reasons, it has to be one of the dumbest of all of baseball’s unwritten rules. I would think that during a no-hitter it is even more paramount that the pitcher and catcher are on the same page when it comes to how you want to handle each hitter. I suppose there is a fear of over analysis but that could be true in any game. I think these, of all games, the pitcher and catcher should be conversing, especially as the game progresses, on how to handle each hitter.

  19. Respect The Game (Play The Game The Right Way)

  20. This has got to be the most overused cliche and its the basis for most of the unwritten rules on this list. But it’s ridiculousness lies in the fact that baseball is a game and cannot be disrespected because it has no feelings. The idea of disrespecting the game is really a disguise for hiding the fact that my performance isn’t up to par and I want to take out my frustrations on you, the player who got the best of me.

    And “playing the game the right way”. What that really means isn’t that someone is doing something that is against the rules. It’s another disguise. This one is used to hide the fact someone did something that someone else prefers that he didn’t. The only “right way” to play the game is to play within the rules. The next time someone uses a variation of the phrase “play the game the right way” recognize it for what it is: a player being petty about something an opponent did that they did not like.


    • Thanks Erik. It was a fun list to make. I use to be all in on most of these but as I got older logic was telling me that some of these just didn’t make sense.


  1. Not talking about a no hitter during a no hitter as well as not stepping on the first and third base infield lines seems petty to me. However, showing up the pitcher and stealing when the score is lopsided s classless. Letting the CF take control is a general rule and should be worked out by the OF team… Not the broadcasters and fans.


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