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Norman Chad: The stupid, strange nature of baseball’s unwritten rules

Baltimore Orioles catcher Chance Sisco (15) broke one of several silly unwritten rules of baseball during an early-season game against the Minnesota Twins. (Patrick Semansky / AP)
Baltimore Orioles catcher Chance Sisco (15) broke one of several silly unwritten rules of baseball during an early-season game against the Minnesota Twins. (Patrick Semansky / AP)
By Norman Chad Syndicated columnist

In 1951, Bobby Thomson hit the “Shot Heard ’Round The World” in the ninth inning as the New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League pennant.

In 2018, Chance Sisco hit the “Bunt Heard ’Round The World Wide Web” in the ninth inning as the Baltimore Orioles trailed the Minnesota Twins 7-0 in the opening week of the American League season.

Ah, how times change.

The Twins’ Jose Berrios was pitching a one-hit shutout with one out in the ninth as the Orioles trailed by seven runs when Sisco decided to bunt, largely because Minnesota was in a shift that left the third-base side of the field vacant.

The Twins took great offense to this.

On the dark Web, it’s all they are talking about.

Heck, I was in my barbershop twice in the last seven days – that’s right, my hair grows so fast, I get it cut two times a week – and every chair was abuzz about the propriety or impropriety of Sisco’s bunt.

Apparently, it broke one of the unwritten rules of baseball.

Well, let’s talk about the written rules of baseball:

Isn’t the object of the game to try to get on base?

And what were the Twins doing putting on a shift in the ninth inning of a 7-0 game? Uh, they were trying to prevent the batter from getting on base.

This is a simple reminder that most of baseball’s unwritten rules are stupid and strange.

For instance, you are not supposed to steal a base if you’re team is way ahead, or way behind. Huh. THEN WHY KEEP PLAYING? I mean, if it’s 10-0, why not just invoke the slaughter rule, like they do in youth leagues, and everyone goes home?

Then there’s this one: If you hit one of ours, we’ll hit one of yours. Which reminds me of an L.A. driving edict – if you cut me off on the freeway, eventually I will cut you off.

I’m not sure which one of those unwritten rules is more chuckleheaded.

On the other hand, there are some lesser-known unwritten rules of baseball that kind of make sense:

Don’t spit out sunflower seeds on a teammate’s shoe during the last game of a homestand.

Don’t bring a pet into the batting cage.

Don’t show up at the visiting team’s hotel the night before a day game.

Don’t leave the on-deck circle dirtier than you found it.

Don’t shower next to a pitcher scheduled to start the following day.

Don’t buy gold chains at Target.

Don’t call your manager “Skipper” in front of a sommelier.

Don’t check your swing if you have change in your pocket.

Don’t play cards on a train with a fella named Big Daddy (circa 1918).

Don’t play HQ Trivia while taxiing on a Delta flight (updated version).

Don’t waste a pitch during a recession.

Don’t order the “cream” and the “clear” online from an unprotected site.

Don’t eat baked beans before a doubleheader.

Don’t charge the mound without a credit card.

Don’t throw a four-seam fastball to a five-tool player.

Don’t interrupt a bullpen-by-committee in session.

Don’t advance a runner if he owes you money.

Don’t hit behind a runner if one of his shoes is untied.

Don’t order out for sushi during a rain delay.

Don’t comment on the home-plate umpire’s weight.

Don’t throw an Eephus pitch to anyone named Eephus.

Don’t be late to a road game when you are the leadoff hitter.

Don’t try the hidden-ball trick at dusk.

Don’t take the bat out of his hands unless you can prove it belongs to somebody else.

Don’t drop a gum wrapper in the dugout.

Don’t wear a batting glove to brunch.

Don’t take financial advice from Lenny Dykstra.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Did you know that a drop of sweat is 99 percent water and 1 percent traces of urea or natural acids and that each of your feet has 25,000 sweat glands? (J.R. Warren; Minneapolis)

A. No. And frankly, I did not want to know.

Q. Seeing how “The Process” has worked for the 76ers, did you ever intentionally tank in order to get out of one of your marriages? (Dan Cantwell; Albany, New York)

A. Uh, I was never the tanker, I was the tankee.

Q. If the FBI raided The Slouch’s office, what would they find? (Jack O’Brien; Fairfax, Virginia)

A. Nearly six decades of professional and personal failure, plus a half-eaten bag of Bugles.

Q. With regard to MLB’s new rules, when a batter now takes exception to being hit by a pitch and decides to charge the pitcher, is that considered a “mound visit”? (Mike Soper; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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