- Fernando Tatis Jr. upset the fun police on Monday with his grand slam home run against the Texas Rangers.
- Tatis swung away on a 3-0 count with the Padres already leading big against the Rangers, breaking one of baseball’s “unwritten rules” in the process.
- Both managers in the game expressed their disappointment in Tatis for hitting his home run.
- But Tatis was right to hit his grand salami. It should take more than a Code of Ethics to stop one of the best hitters in the game from smashing home runs.
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San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the most exciting young players in baseball, but don’t let his manager know that.
On Monday, Tatis got in trouble with his opponents and his own manager for breaking one of baseball’s fabled “unwritten rules.”
The infraction came with the Padres leading the Rangers 10-3 in the top of the eighth inning, with the bases loaded and Tatis at the plate. With the count 3-0, and the Padres already holding a comfortable lead late in the game, the unwritten rules called for Tatis to take the next pitch, either taking a walk or letting the pitcher settle into a 3-1 count.
Instead, Tatis did what he does best – smacked a dinger.
Fernando Tatis Jr. smacked a grand slam on a 3-0 count with a big lead, leading to criticism from both managers.
What do you think about this unwritten rule in baseball?
— The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) August 18, 2020
The grand slam pushed the Padres lead to 14-3.
After the game, Rangers manager Chris Woodward took issue with Tatis’ late home run.
“I didn’t like it, personally,” Woodward said. “But, like I said, the norms are being challenged on a daily basis. So just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not right. I don’t think we liked it as a group.”
But it wasn’t just the opposition that was coming after Tatis – even his own manager had a problem with Tatis swinging freely.
“Just so you know, a lot of our guys have green light 3-0,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “But in this game, in particular, we had a little bit of a comfortable lead. We’re not trying to run up the score or anything like that.”
These criticisms of Tatis leave us with one big question: what the hell are we doing here?
Tatis is one of the most compelling players in the sport. He’s a shortstop with ridiculous pop, and his grand slam against the Rangers was his 11th four-bagger of the season, pushing him ahead of Mike Trout for most home runs in the majors.
Defenders of the unwritten rules might argue that they revolve around respect. However, if the rule is “don’t swing when your team is already leading big late in the game,” the rule seems more aimed at getting everybody home at a reasonable hour. That’s a fine reason to make a rule, but it’s not enough to cry foul if someone – like the most exciting player in the sport, for instance – decides he wants to tee off on your reliever for a bit of extra batting practice instead.
If I were a major league reliever pitching against Fernando Tatis Jr., I would try to pitch better or take my lumps when he took me oppo-boppo.
Also, at what precise point was it not ok for Tatis to swing? If there were only two men on, would his home run be allowed under the Baseball Standards of Decency? If the Padres were only leading by five rather than seven, would Tatis’ dinger have been permissible per article B, subsection 12 of the Major League Code of Ethics and Responsibility?
If the rules are going to get this specific, someone will have to bite the bullet and just write them down.
We’re already living through one of the strangest seasons in the history of the sport. Tatis had been holding back a desire to hit home runs for six months, and through his first 24 games, has wasted no time in making up for the months he lost.
If teams want to stop Tatis from mashing home runs, it should take more than some unwritten rules to do it.