Monday, July 28, 2008

Play The Game Right

For all of the people reading who don't know me (probably no one), I play baseball at the University of Pennsylvania. As you probably assume, in college baseball you find a much different style of play than in the majors. Namely, there is a widespread lack of respect for the game, playing the game right, baseball etiquette, whatever you choose to call it in professional baseball. This post is a tutorial on how baseball is supposed to played. I'm not talking mechanics and strategy, but the little things that are to be done, that seem to be lost as the generations pass. Here's the rundown:

Hustle -- Routine groundballs, lazy flyballs, doesn't matter, you gotta run it out. 9 times out of 10 you're out anyway, but that one time when an error is made and you can't capitalize, makes you look very bad. Also, going the extra mile to run everything puts pressure on the defense and may in return help you get on base more as it is.

Home Runs -- Great you hit a home run, chances are it was very impressive. But, don't stand there and watch it like it is God's latest gift to man. There's no better way to get one of your teammates plunked, than pimping your homer around the bases. Act like you've done it before and take a quick jog around, no showboating, no nonsense. However, it's fine to show some passion with a fist pump or something of the like if it's a big moment or a game winner. Not if it's an 8-2 game and you're losing.

Poor Umping -- Baseball is the game of human error and the umpires are definitely included in that name. Chances are if you don't play in the major leagues, you will be subject to amorphous strike zones, missed calls, incorrect calls, and/or a total lack of knowledge of the rules. However, that doesn't mean as a player you get to ostercize them at every opportunity. Coaches are meant to yell and criticize the umps, not the players. Want to look like a real tool? Turn around and bitch at the ump after he calls you out on a questionable strike. Or yell obscene things from the dugout to try and be funny. But, if you really want to look bad, throw a mini temper-tantrum and show the ump up in front of everyone.

Routine Plays -- Not hustling has already been covered, but this is for the guys who field a ground and take a mini victory lap after every play they make. Congratulations, you made the play you were supposed to make, now you just look like an arrogant jerk.

Bean Balls -- There is a time and a place to hit somebody. Doing a lot of the things mentioned already can cause that to happen, but that doesn't make it right. However, if you do want to hit somebody, you don't hit them in the head. With the serious injuries that can occur to the head, bean balls should always be throw at the body just to send a messge, not to inflict pain or injury.

These are very simple things to follow, but you can't watch a baseball game on tv without seeing multiple infractions. The list of ridiculous home run trots is endless. Manny, Ryan Braun, Soriano, Griffey (who I excuse because he's my idol), Carlos Lee, etc. Not hustling is the norm for guys like Manny (probably the worst), David Ortiz, Bonds, and many other superstars. Kyle Farnsworth is one I've seen throw at a guy's head. And plenty of guys simply abuse umpires on close calls.

Believe it or not, you don't have to make millions for this to happen because I see it in person all the time. Kids yell at umps, walk to first after home runs, don't run balls out, etc. It is embarrassing to the kids themselves, the parents and the coaches. It all stems down from the big leagues, but more coaches need to set the tone for how things will be done or it will only get worse. Like the kid in the Little League Word Series who called his shot a few years ago. Too bad he probably got an endorsement deal out of it and didn't learn any lesson.

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