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Rick Zamperin: Major League Baseball should banish its ‘unwritten rules’

Texas Rangers catcher Jose Trevino and San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. watch the flight of Tatis's grand slam ball that came off a pitch from Rangers relief pitcher Juan Nicasio in the eighth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Monday Aug. 17, 2020. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

With one mighty swing of the bat, San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has thrust the debate over Major League Baseball‘s longstanding unwritten rules into the spotlight, and it has made for an entertaining one at that.

Tatis Jr., the son of former big leaguer Fernando Tatis, sent a shockwave throughout the majors on Monday night when his Padres squared off against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

With San Diego leading the Rangers 10-3, Tatis Jr. blasted a 3-0 pitch over the right field wall to put the Padres up 14-3 and they would go on to win the contest 14-4.

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What has some baseball purists, or at least those who subscribe to eternally honouring the game’s ‘unwritten rules,’ is that Tatis swung on a 3-0 count with his team already sporting a comfortable seven-run lead late in the game.

After the game, Padres manager Jayce Tingler said that he gave Tatis the sign to take the pitch (not swing) and called it a “learning opportunity” while Rangers skipper Chris Woodward said the 21-year-old sophomore slugger “challenged the unwritten rules in today’s game.”

Frankly, this is an unwritten rule that should have never been accepted by big leaguers.

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We teach our children to try their hardest when they are participating in sports, but for those talented and fortunate enough to make it to ‘the show’ we are now asking them not to try because their team may be winning by a lopsided margin in the late stages of a game?

The mixed messaging is pathetic.

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Listen, I get that there is a line between trying your hardest and purposely embarrassing your opponent but in the case of Tatis Jr., I don’t think he was attempting to do the latter.

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To make matters worse, Tatis felt compelled (or was told) to apologize for what he did.

No apology needed, at least not from this corner, and many major leaguers have since come out in support of the Padres star.

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Maybe this will be a watershed moment in baseball in which all, or most, players go all out from the first pitch to the final out.

However, given the backlash that erupted following what amounted to a meaningless home run, I doubt that baseball’s old boys’ club will rip up its list of unwritten rules.

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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