What are the unwritten rules of baseball, and why they should be canceled?

While the NBA is showcasing its young talent and dominating the social media landscape, it seems that the MLB is stuck in purgatory. If baseball wasn’t already on the hot seat, they are now being riddled by young fans on their bizarre etiquettes.

On Monday night, one of the leagues brightest young stars, Fernando Tatis Jr. and his Padres team faced off against the Texas Rangers. San Diego has been cruising and by the eighth inning of this game, the Padres already had a seven-run lead. As you can tell from the game, the Rangers were getting crushed. At this point in time, the bases were loaded and Tatis was up to bat. The young Shortstop had three straight balls come his way. His Manager, Jayce Tingler, gave him the take sign, but Tatis missed it and swung on a beauty. The 21-year-old phenom hit his first grand slam of his career, his second homer of the game, and gave him the major league leader spot in the category. The Padres won the game 14-4.

You would think that this would be an awesome thing for baseball? This young new kid, crushing bombs, having fun with his team. Well, think again. Rangers Manager, Chris Woodward, was not a fan of the hit. "I didn't like it, personally. You are up seven in the 8th inning, it is typically not a good time to swing 3-0. It's kind of the way we were all raised in the game" he stated. The team didn't like the homer either. Juan Nicasio, who pitched at Tatis, was replaced by Ian Gibaut. He immediately there behind slugger Manny Machado, to fire a warning shot. Padres Manager, Jayce Tingler, made Tatis apologize in the post-game conference. The skipper also stated "it is a learning opportunity and that is it. He'll grow from it... in this game, in particular, we had a little bit of a comfortable lead. We were not trying to tun up the score or anything like that".

Ultimately, Gibaut gets a three-game suspension for throwing behind Manny, while Woodward received a one-game ban. Tatis, on the other hand, received, yes you guessed it, zero... because he did nothing wrong. At the end of the ball game, the narrative that was being set was that this young player should be following the code of the said "unwritten rules". That did not sit well with fans, players, and journalists. Twitter went into an absolute frenzy.


The MLB rulebook consists of 173 pages of content and it can be downloaded from the league’s official website. Despite having this lengthy page of official rules, there are many vague implicit rules that impacts how the game is played. Since the inception of the league, players have adopted this so-called unspoken rules, to improve gamesmanship and be better gentlemen of the sport. In 1960, Joe Garagiola Sr. wrote a book titled Baseball is a Funny Game, where he mentions these so-called rules.

"Baseball is a game played with bat and ball and governed by rules set forth by a committee under the direction of the commissioner of baseball. Baseball is a game played by human beings and governed by unwritten laws of survival and self-preservation."

Some of the rules make sense. You shouldn't bunt to break up a no-hitter and don't stand near home plate when the pitcher is warming up. Some are more superstitious. You never talk about a no-hitter or perfect game when it is coming to fruition. You also shouldn't talk to the pitcher, who is dealing said game. But a few of these rules, however, drain the fun out of the game. Don't admire your home runs. Bat flips are "disrespectful". Do not swing at the first pitch of the at-bat if the pitcher has allowed back-to-back home runs. I mean, come on. Who honestly gives a shit? Look how entertaining this stuff is.

Look across the different sports leagues. When a player scores a touchdown in the NFL, they have choreographed dances and funny skits with other teammates. When a basketball player dunks, he hangs on the rim and jumps off with excitement. When a player daggers a mean shot into the back of the net in Soccer and Hockey, the players are electric. In baseball, you hit a homerun, have a high five, throw in a couple of golf-claps, and sit back on the bench.

MLB has a marketing campaign stating "Let the kids play". Well Mr. Commisonner, Rob Manfred, you are making that very hard for the young talent to do so. Watching these guys have joy makes viewing the game even more enticing to watch. Unless you really love the sport, it is tough to sit through three hours of a game. But every Sunday in the fall, you have guys sitting on their couch the whole day watching RedZone. Something needs to be fixed if Baseball wants to grow. It is not America's past-time anymore.

Photo: FanGraphs Baseball

The New York Times reported last year that attendance at Major League Baseball games has been declining since 2012. "About 68.5 million fans attended major league games during the 2019 regular season, down from a peak of nearly 80 million in 2007." Another alarming stat is popularity among player profiles. There is no doubt that Mike Trout is one of the best baseball players in the history of the sport. However, according to YouGov’s ratings of active sports personalities, 91% of Americans have heard of LeBron James and 88% have heard of Tom Brady, but only 43% have heard of Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, baseball’s best player. That is absolutely absurd. How They Play did a great job breaking down why Baseball is a dying sport. The last thing the league needs to do is get frustrated about the flashy play of the game.

At the end of the day; Chris Woodward is in the wrong, Fernando Tatis Jr. did nothing wrong, and the MLB needs to nix these unwritten rules. Hey Baseball “purists”, move over. The future of baseball is here, and they want to disrupt and evolve the game. The unwritten rules of Major League Baseball can honestly kick rocks.

"{Unwritten} Rules are meant to be broke ~ Douglas MacArthur" ~ Will Tondo