A season ago in the wake of Alex Rodriguez(notes) infamously invading Dallas Braden's(notes) moundspace, author Jason Turbow wrote a post on The Stew in conjunction with (and to promote) his book about the so-called "unwritten rules" of baseball.
The confrontation between Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks(notes) and Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista(notes) on Sunday afternoon seems like an excellent opportunity to revisit Major League Baseball's unofficial (yet seemingly integral) code of player conduct.
One batter after the Blue Jays had piled up a 9-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning on a Corey Patterson(notes) home run, Bautista hit an infield pop-up on a 3-2 pitch. Right after making contact, Bautista — by far the best hitter in baseball this season — screamed at himself and slammed down his bat in exasperation. No at-bat should be wasted, in his view.
Danks, who was having perhaps the lousiest game in the lousiest season of his career, took exception to the outburst and started yelling at Bautista — who yelled back as he made his way to the dugout. The argument never got too heated, but on the replay notice the umpire lurking, just in case:
After the game, Danks went into detail about what he told Bautista:
"I just told him to run the bases," Danks said. "He was out there acting like a clown. He's a good player. He's had a great year and a half, no doubt, he's been one of the best hitters in the league. He was out there acting like he's Babe Ruth or something.
"I've had a pretty [crummy] year to this point but I have pride still," Danks added. "I'm not going to let him sit out there and show me up like that."
Danks might be surprised to learn that Bautista is actually hitting better than Babe Ruth. But, more to his point — is Danks right about Bautista showing him up?
Not surprisingly, the common opinion seems to be that Danks should concern himself with pitching better and worry less about how hitters are responding. Based on the Twitter reaction, the only people defending Danks were (big surprise) White Sox broadcasters Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone.
(Hawk also implied that Bautista was corking his bat, which would be the among the dumber things he's ever said. A) There's no evidence he is. B) There's no evidence it helps you go from mediocre to Ruthian.)
Anyway, Bautista was unapologetic afterward, saying he wasn't here to make Danks feel good. And, to be fair, his intent wasn't to show up Danks in the first place; he simply was mad at himself for not putting a good enough swing on the ball. As a result, however, he violated an unwritten rule and DISRESPECTED THE OPPONENT.
To wit, check out what Drew Fairservice wrote at Ghost Runner:
Was John Danks obviously irritated with his own performance, thus lashing out at the One Man Gang? Of course. But that doesn't really "make it okay." If it were any other guy on the team, I have a strong inkling Jose himself would pull the offending player aside for a quick conversation about respecting the opposition.
There's no finer baseball man out there than Drew, who views the sport, in part, through the lens of a Blue Jays fan. If he can see Danks' point, others should as well. I'm sure our comments section will have an informed and respectful discussion about this. (Ahem.)
Jose Bautista might very well be Babe Ruth 3000, but even the Bambino made outs. Therefore, he needs to act like he's been there before and be "OK" (at least outwardly) with not hitting every ball over the fence. Pick your spots.
Besides: Before 2010, Jose Bautista made enough outs to know what it's like to struggle.
And Danks also needs to pitch better.