For quite some time now, it has become fashionable for fans and pundits to denigrate the “unwritten rules” of baseball. This is a lazy practice that is easy because it takes advantage if the uninformed by creating strawman arguments. Because there is no defined rule for these “unwritten rules”, it is easy to construct an incorrect argument centered around a confusing topic. Why aren’t you allowed to steal up by seven runs in the 9th inning? It’s not against the rules. Why is it frowned upon to bunt during a no hitter in a 5-0 game? It’s not against the rules.
When taken at face value, the simplistic person looking for a lazy topic and lazy conversation will deem this acceptable. But it’s far deeper of an issue than that. In every group, society, and culture you will find specific nuances that may not make sense to those not part of that group. Why should I take off my shoes before entering the home of a Japanese person? It’s not in a rulebook, but it is part of their culture and it is understood among each and every one of the Japanese. Most reasonable people think it is in bad taste to try to date your best friend’s ex-girlfriend when they break up. Where is that written? It’s not, it’s just understood. If you get ticketed for going 56mph in a 55mph zone, you’re technically breaking the law. But this doesn’t happen because police look the other way understanding the “unwritten rules” of society.
The problem for most people is that if they haven’t been part of that group or society, it can be difficult to understand something that is undefined. This doesn’t mean that this knowledge cannot be acquired, but it takes a lot more effort. Just because you watch the game on television or from the stands, doesn’t mean you understand the nuances that are occurring “between the lines”. There is an unwritten code of conduct. It has been developed over many decades, and a majority of the people involved in Major League Baseball follow this code. They created these rules, they police these rules, and they enforce these rules in the same manner rule of law is cultivated in other societies.
So when Joe Maddon calls Davey Johnson a coward and a p#%$y, make sure you understand why. Far too many people are missing the point, and reacting to something they don’t understand. Maddon was clear in his ire. It was not directed at an opposing manager pointing out something that is more or less accepted throughout baseball. That’s simply irritating. What infuriated Maddon was the fact Johnson used “insider information” to target Joel Peralta. The Nationals stabbed a former teammate in the back. Some fans will say that you win at all cost. That is the equivalent of condoning the lies and deceit of a businessman in order to screw over others to reach the pinnacle of success. What Johnson did was unethical within the group of people we call Major League Baseball. Instead of dismissing the “unwritten rules” of baseball because it is the easy thing to do, try to understand that different groups may view the same thing differently, and play by a code of conduct. And whether you agree or disagree with what Johnson did to Peralta, a majority of people involved in the “group” of Major League baseball frown upon it.