During the series finale between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, the benches emptied and a minor skirmish broke out between the teams in the seventh inning after Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar stole third base with a 5-run lead (see video below).
After the game, which the Rays won 8-5, Rays manager Joe Maddon said that some players in the Red Sox dugout were upset about the stolen base, presumably because it broke one of baseball’s “unwritten rules” in which a team should not try to run up the score on its defeated opponent.
Maddon went on to perfectly explain just how dumb the unwritten rule is and how silly it was that the Red Sox were upset about it.
“That’s not even nearly as egregious as last year in the playoffs when they had an 8-2 lead in the 8th inning, [Jacoby] Ellsbury led off with a single and they stole second base, beating us 12-2. I think that was a little bit more egregious than their interpretation tonight…While we’re on the subject, I want to take this moment please regarding this crazy stuff about leads and teams trying to not score runs. I didn’t take any exception when they stole on us [in the playoffs]. I didn’t take any because our goal is to not permit them scoring runs. Their goal is to score runs. The whole game. That’s always been the goal within the game of baseball. Apparently some of the guys on their bench did not like that…You have to keep your personal vendettas, your personal prejudice, your personal judgmental components in your back pocket. So before you start screaming regarding any of that, just understand what happened just last year and also understand in this ballpark, 5-0 leads can evaporate quickly.”
The last line in the quote refers to the game the day before in which the Rays overcame a 5-0 deficit and eventually beat the Red Sox in 15 innings. In addition, the very next day the Red Sox scored five runs in one inning to erase a 6-1 deficit on their way to a win over the Braves.
Baseball has a lot of dumb “unwritten rules,” that are designed to keep the game gentlemanly and to keep teams and players from embarrassing their opponents.
But unlike other sports like football, hockey, and basketball, there is no time limit in baseball. So until a trailing team promises to stop trying, it is unfair to expect differently from the team that is winning.
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