It is well documented that the MLB and its more than 1000 players abide by an unwritten code of conduct. At the same time, casual fans may question why or why not a particular play takes place during various moments of a game. While it may be confusing, frustrating, or unnecessary at times, many of the unwritten rules have been in place for decades.
“More of this in MLB please. Burn the unwritten rules” – @OnePursuitTakes
From elongated home run celebrations to not walking in front of the umpire or catcher when approaching the batter’s box, here is a closer look at 10 unwritten rules in the MLB ranging from acceptable to downright ridiculous.
10. MLB’s most sensible unwritten rule: do not bunt to break up a no-hitter
Since 1876, there have only been 318 no-hitters in MLB history. While there are a few superstitions involving the no-hitter, intentionally bunting to try and break up one is highly frowned upon. Like most unwritten rules, players who bunt should expect to be hit by a pitch in their next at-bat or during the next matchup.
“My most old school opinion: If you bunt to break up a no hitter you’re a bitch” – @24FramesPerEric
9. Do not steal bases when your team is winning by a significant margin
At the end of the day, professional MLB players are a brotherhood, so stealing a base at the end of a game while their team is ahead will enrage teammates and opponents alike. This is an unnecessary play that should not occur, making it one of the most acceptable unwritten rules.
8. Do not assist a member of the opposing team
As previously mentioned, the MLB is a brotherhood, but at the same time, they are in direct competition with each other. This unwritten rule is a given, and while you may be friends off the field, you stand with your teammates on the field.
7. Do not speak to a pitcher who is in the process of throwing a no-hitter
As previously mentioned, there are several unwritten rules and superstitions surrounding the coveted no-hitter. This is another rule among MLB clubhouses that is understandable. The pitcher throwing the no-hitter is not only aware of his potential feat but is feeling the pressure of making history, additional pressure is unnecessary.
6. Do not discuss a no-hitter currently in progress
This is one of the most well-known unwritten rules in baseball: do not talk about a no-hitter before it has been completed. The code is not only used by players but by fans and commentators alike. While it is a popular rule among fans, it is entirely superstition and has no bearing on the pitcher.
“You know that old baseball superstition where you don’t talk about a no-hitter in progress? Clearly, Fox has never heard of it.” – @FeitCanWrite
5. A pitcher should not indicate displeasure if one of his fielders commits an error
Now we’re starting to reach some of the more unnecessary rules in baseball. While teammates need to support one another when they make a mistake, it is also important to hold teammates accountable for their actions. This may be a case-by-case rule, but if the error costs the team the game, this unwritten rule is completely moot.
4. Do not swing at the first pitch of the at-bat if the pitcher has allowed back-to-back home runs
While it may be a matter of respect, it is ultimately a competition. “You play to win the game,” NFL coach Herman Edwards once said. Baseball games, like most sports, are determined by waves of momentum; this rule attempts to discourage teams from riding that wave.
3. Do not walk in front of a catcher or umpire when walking to the batter’s box
This is an unwritten rule that has zero to do with the outcome of the game and is simply a matter of respect. While respect is an important value in professional sports, where you walk should be of no importance during a game.
2. Do not work the count if your team is winning or losing by a significant amount
When a game appears to be out of reach, most teams simply want to finish it and move on to the next, but failing to work the count is a ridiculous unwritten rule. Every at-bat matters not only for someone’s career statistics but also for future contracts in a game dominated by analytics and stats. After an MLB season of cumulative numbers, an extra walk or strikeout could be the difference.
1. Do not spend your time admiring a home run you hit, aka bat-flipping
One of the most debatable unwritten rules in the MLB is the bat flip or watching your home run for too long. This usually results in a beanball or even a bench-clearing brawl. The debate over this rule stems from modern fans wanting more emotion and flash injected into baseball, while older fans prefer the respect between batter and pitcher.
“Safe to say he was not a fan of that bat flip.” – the Score