Breaking the Unwritten Rules

Let the MLB play without its “Unwritten Rules”. All Professional sports are meant to entertain us to get us engaged with a particular team or player. There are some unwritten rules…many have disappeared in other sports…but baseball clings to some ideas from past.
…Some of those “unwritten rules”….Don’t steal bases or strut on HR if your team is getting pounded; pitchers—do not show up your fielders after an error; don’t talk about a no-hitter in progress; don’t break up a no-hitter with a bunt single; never rub the area that was hit by a pitch and don’t swing @ 3-0 pitches or do more than the minimum to score runs when up by a large margin. That 3-0 automatic “take” is ruffling some feathers at the moment.
..Let’s look @ that 3-0 pitch. The Average MLB pitchers throw 62% strikes while the better pitchers throw 65% strikes. Assuming that a “better pitcher” goes 3-0, with the “strike” rate above, he’d have slightly over a 25% chance of throwing 3 consecutive strikes…. I knew that math would come in handy some day😊. Soooo…for decades, managers played the “odds” and wanted that batter to take the 3-0 and see where that took you. But…attitudes may be evolving… in 2019 after jumping ahead to a 3-0 count, MLB hitters posted on an on-base % of .710 (with 59% being walks)
…sooo…for decades it was almost automatic to take the 3-0 and be judicious on your other swings. Currently, the thought process on 3-0 is beginning to evolve. Mike Trout & Matt Chapman have “come out” that batters are “taking” the best pitch that they’re going to get in that at-bat. Their right… 34.2% of 3-0 pitches are fastball strikes in the heart of the zone. When MLB batters did swing last year at 3-0 counts, they produced an extra-base hit 13% of the time. That might sound meager until you realize that only 4.7% of ALL SWINGS generated extra base hits!! Further, the MLB saw at least an .820 slugging% on 3-0 count in the previous 4 seasons and an unbelievable 1.128 mark this season (thru 2 weeks ago). By comparison, in ALL other counts, hitters hold a slug % mark of .559!
….recently there were 2 episodes centered around the 3-0 count. Totally opposite reactions!! In the 1st reaction Our friend, Tony LaRussa (Mr. Old School) was in the center of one of these events. With the CWS holding a 16-4 lead, and a 3-0 count on CWS’ Yermin Mercedes with catcher/infielder Williams Astudillo pitching, Mercedes blasted that 3-0 more than 400 feet over the center field wall. According to ESPN, it was the 1st time in the past 20 years that a MLB player had swung at a 3-0 pitch with a lead of at least 10 runs. Incredibly, these stat geeks figured out 557 pitches had been thrown in that situation. LaRUssa responded immediately after the game,” “With that kind of a lead, that’s just sportsmanship, or respect for the game or respect for your opponent,” La Russa said. “He made a mistake. There will be a consequence that he’s going to have to endure within our family. It won’t happen again.” Sure enough…old school won out..the next day, in the 7th inning, 1 out, no one on base & CWS leading 4-3, Mercedes, in the batters box, saw a 93mph pitch sail behind him. The Twins pitcher & manager were ejected but LaRussa said after the game, “ I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled it”!!
…Meanwhile…just days later, one the brightest MLB super-stars, Fernando Tatis Jr blasted a grand slam on a 3-0 pitch with his team up 10-3 in the 8th inning. Holding the title as possibly the brightest young super-star, Tatis’ blast was not viewed as a clash between ol’ school v new school. Rather .. it seemed to illustrate the current momentum in the MLB, pushed by the younger stars. to exhibit more personal emotion into the MLB game. I’ve been crying for more emotion in the MLB. Why should the batter automatically “take” the 3-0? Rewarding the pitcher for his ineptness? Swing away!!
…..so with the 3-0 “take” attitude changing, it’ll join a plethora of other changes in the MLB over the last 25 years. 25 years ago at the ball park, you saw—players sliding hard into 2B to “break up” the double play; choking up on the bat; you saw smoking in the stands by the fans; the players themselves also looked different—some were very thin (almost skinny) while others carried around a pot belly! Some were smaller than 5-9 ; then there were unusual stances –that crouched, or bent over, or a completely stayed motionless stance (Steve Garvey); pitchers working faster between pitches—much faster; you saw lots of wild, bad hair styles. They’ve all changed and…..so should the 3-0 attitude.
….the unwritten rules of the NHL say that you can’t make excuses for losing. Sooo, let’s take a quick, sad look @ the Avs 4 game sweep of the Blues. The Blues had hopes that they’d turn their late season run into a long, successful post-season. But, it didn’t work out that way! Colorado brought in some impressive 20-21 season stats. They ranked #1 in scoring with 3.53 goals/gm AND were 3rd best in goals against with a 2.36 goals/gm mark! The Av’s had the 8th rated power play (22.7%) & 8th rated penalty kile (83.1%. this was only the 2nd Avalance squad in the last 15 years to finish in the top 10 in both special team categories. The Av’s led the entire league in goals. Even without knowing those stats, from my view, the Avs persistently sent wave after wave of good, fast, big offensive lines at the Blues. They kept the pressure on the Blues throughout the entire series. The Blues checking game was good but not good enough to stifle this fleet-skating club. Colorado was simply a better team. Time for Blues to reevaluate their roster, their farm system, coaching staff at all levels and then to take the necessary steps to upgrade the team. One final thing…get the Blues back into the Central Division…not the West! How did we EVER get in the West? Our club is designed more for the Central style of play.
…clearly the unwritten rules of baseball is that if a batter is hitting well….throw different pitches in different spots. After Tommy Edman reached the .299 plateau on May 7, the MLB pitchers have been “working on him”. If a batter, like Edman, is taking the outside pitches the other way and hitting hard shots on the ground on inside low pitches for hit, expect the pitchers to go high on him. Hence, Edman just popped 2 HR in a game as the pitchers DID attempt to go high. They’ll keep “working on him” but he’s been the most consistent Card batter in 2021.
…one of the unwritten rules are that LA & NY will have the best teams since they can afford them. LA “may” have the best NL team …but… in yesterday’s box score not 1 batter held an average over .285 and they lost 5-2! Didn’t look like the Bronx Bombers of old!
…the unwritten rule for me is to “hang it up” about now…I’m going to follow that rule this week😊 Please feel free to post, or read, on my Facebook page! If you’re curious about what was said in the blogs of a year, or 2 or 3 ago, check out bobryansportsblog.com

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