It was one of the most hotly debated topics of the year: baseball's unwritten rules. Is it okay for a player to admire a home run? Are home plate collisions part of the game or on their way out? Should the game police itself? MLB Network's Bob Costas, Jim Kaat, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci discuss retaliation, on-field celebrations, bunting during a no-hitter, stealing signs and how these rules have changed in the last 50 years in MLB 2013: Unwritten Rules, a special one-hour roundtable show airing this weekend.
Citing specific situations that took place during the 2013 regular season and throughout baseball's history, Costas, Kaat, Reynolds and Verducci will also offer their thoughts on base-running etiquette and rules that should be added or further enforced in the game.
MLB 2013: Unwritten Rules premieres this Saturday, November 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET and will re-air on Sunday, November 17 at 2:00 p.m. ET and on Thursday, November 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Highlights from MLB 2013: Unwritten Rules include:
Jim Kaat: Pitchers don't really know how to brush hitters back without hitting them. The object is to make them move their feet, send a message for whatever reason. … I think now it's basically pitchers don't have command of that real brushback pitch and, as a result, you're seeing a lot of brawls.
Tom Verducci: What I have a big problem with and we really need to get it out of the game, I think, is retaliating because a guy does his job well. Somebody hits a home run and the next batter gets hit or that guy the next time up gets hit. … A guy is doing his job and you're retaliating for a guy doing his job well.
On on-field celebration:
Verducci: Context is so important here. As a blanket rule that guys shouldn't watch home runs, that's nonsense. I'd like to see more of it.
Kaat: From my era, I still sort of like the motto of, "When you lose, say little. When you win, say less." Willie McGee would sprint around the bases and I'd say, "Willie, take your time," and he'd say, "Kitty, that pitcher feels bad enough, I want to get out of his way."
Harold Reynolds: I came up at a different time because if I stood there, I was going to get hit the next time. These guys don't realize the power of the baseball as a pitcher, and the fear of the hitter is not there. Maybe it is because of the arm guards and they're not going to pitch inside. I think it comes down to respecting the game a little bit. There has to be some sportsmanship involved in this whole thing.
Verducci: If you're a big home run hitter and you hit one 20, 30, 40 rows deep, you should watch it. Who appointed these pitchers the sheriffs of baseball?
Bob Costas: A guy gets a big hit, he pumps his fist. To me, that's all good. What I don't like though is when the exuberance gets in the way of the first priority, which is to play the game. So now the guy is admiring what he thinks is a home run, the next thing you know is he's almost thrown out at second base on what should be a triple. I'm not good with that.
On stealing signs:
Reynolds: I never had a problem with players stealing signs to pass to a hitter. … Guys could not wait for me to get to second base and if I figured out the sequence they were using, I went back to the bench, we sat down and talked about it. As a middle infielder, I felt it was my duty that if I had a catcher at second base for two or three hitters, I'm like, "Time out, change our signs, he's figuring it out." So, I always thought that was legit.
Costas on bunting during a no-hitter: A key would be how close is the game, and also what are the standings? If your team is 20 games out, maybe you don't do it, but if this game is crucial and if the game is close, then maybe you can bunt in a situation like that.
Verducci on collisions at home plate: It's on its way out of the game and it should be. Think about it: if you were inventing the game of baseball today, would you allow a guy to be barreling down [a catcher]? A 250-pound guy, 220-pound guy running around full-speed into a catcher who is just, let's face it, he's a defenseless receiver equivalent in the NFL. Why would you allow it? You can't do it at first base. You can't plow into a guy at second base who has the ball. You can't do it at third. Why can you do it home? I think it will be taken out of the game.
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