Welcome to a special lunch edition of The Cooler (made necessary by four days out of town and the requisite recovery that comes after the Great Baseball Road Trip). Let’s get started:
*There was yet another (and unsurprising) disagreement over the “unwritten rules” of baseball Saturday during the Twins’ 9-6 loss to the Rangers.
While I’m not one to unflinchingly question such rules because there is something to be said for a loose code of conduct — which is what this is — that governs gray areas. The problem, though, is that by calling something that is so clearly undefined a “rule,” you don’t acknowledge the obvious: there are many interpretations, and one person’s definition of a violation of such a rule is bound to be different than someone else’s.
Case in point came Saturday, when the Twins’ Addison Reed, apparently with intent, plunked the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar with a pitch. It was the third time in the game Profar had been beaned, and it came after Profar stole a base in the fourth inning of a game Texas led 9-2.
Intentional beanings in general are about as ridiculous as hockey fights (but damn if the worst parts of us don’t crave them both). In this case, the Twins thought Profar stealing a base up seven runs was a violation of an unwritten rule. The Rangers thought it was just part of playing baseball.
In a thoughtful e-mail, reader Russell P. said he thought manager Paul Molitor, in defending the HBP postgame, probably knew it was wrong but felt it was best to stand up for Reed. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s a reasonable take. Rangers manager Jeff Bannister said this: “There’s still a lot of game to be played,” he said. “You look at how the game ended. You’ve got to continue to play the baseball game.”
I think Bannister is correct in this case. The Twins ended up getting the potential winning run at the plate in the ninth before Logan Morrison struck out. The Rangers should be looking to add runs; the Twins — who clearly hadn’t given up on the idea of winning — should be focused on stopping them.
But the bigger problem is the unwritten rule. Would you feel differently if the stolen base was in the sixth inning? How about the eighth? Maybe. But everyone’s threshold is different, and it’s allowed to be different because an unwritten rule without a clear definition is not a rule at all.
Maybe the new rule across sports should be this: Everyone play hard until the game is over, and if you get beat by a lot try to do better and not let it happen again.
*LeBron James apparently doesn’t want “elaborate recruiting pitches” from teams if and when he becomes a free agent later this week, but that will probably have the same effect as a plea of “no gifts” on a child’s birthday party invitation. Everyone team is going to worry that LeBron doesn’t really mean it, and they’ll be tempted to put their best pitch forward.
*Kangaroo on a soccer field in Australia? Kangaroo on a soccer field in Australia.