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Gaby Sanchez says Morgan violated unwritten rule


(By Wilfredo Lee - AP)

The problem with unwritten rules in baseball is they're not really written down anywhere. Someone should work on that. If "literally" can mean figuratively, there's no reason unwritten rules can't be written down.

Because when people want to have a good old-fashioned throwdown due to the violation of an unwritten rule, there's no way to be absolutely certain whether the letter of the law was violated. And so instead this becomes like some Supreme Court debate, where you're trying to judge original intent rather than the actual words, and next thing you know someone's finding a Constitutional right to steal second when you're down by 11 in the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause

And so it was Wednesday night. Nyjer Morgan crashing into a catcher and dislocating body parts obviously earns a payback plunking, which he accepted without complaint. But when, down by double digits, he parlayed that plunking into two stolen bases and a perch on third base, things became murky.

"When he got to first he ends up stealing second and then stealing third, down by 11," explained Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, the man who later clothes-lined Morgan, on SIRIUS XM's MLB Network Radio. "And that's the whole gist of the conversation that I heard. You really don't do that in baseball. I can understand if it was a four-run lead and they hit you on purpose and you go ahead and steal second and steal third, then I don't think it's anything of a big deal. But when the team's down by 11, we're not really holding him on, we're not really doing anything, and he ends up stealing second and stealing third? I know that a lot of the guys were upset about the whole situation. So just try to hit him again kind of thing."

But was this a clear-cut violation? Jeff Nelson, the host of the program, said it wasn't.

"If I'm a pitcher, I don't like it either," Nelson began. "I don't like when he's stealing, because all of the sudden I take up for my teammates and next thing I know he's stealing bags and that's a freaking earned run and we're 11 runs up. But it's in the fourth. You've got to expect that they are gonna run....If they're up by 11, I can understand, you don't run. If you're down, you're trying to do everything you can to try to come back that early. I don't think it's an unwritten rule -- hey, if you're down this much, you shouldn't be stealing....I think anybody does it."

Strict constructionist, this one.

"Yeah, I definitely understand both ways of it," Sanchez said. "I definitely believe -- know -- that he was stealing because he got hit. It wasn't because of anything else. It wasn't, 'Oh, we're down by 12 or 11, I'm gonna steal to get to third.' It was you guys hit me on purpose, so now I'm gonna steal second, I'm gonna steal third. I know that that was his mindset."

Yeah, and I know exactly what James Madison was thinking. Sure I do. Though Tom Boswell, it's worth saying, seems to agree with Sanchez on this point. From his chat:

After he was hit, and not hurt, he immediately stole two bases. That's like being told to sit in the corner by the teacher, then making faces at her behind her back. You are not taking your deserved punishment. So, you have to be punished again

On the other side, the gents from Walkoff Walk:

Nyjer Morgan's crime was trying to steal a base...down by 11. Is it Stupid Old Man Baseball Code Opposite Day?

In any case, what we all wanted to know -- who is Sanchez's favorite pro wrestler, and why did he decide to go clothes-line instead of suplex -- was left unanswered. Instead, we got this.

"I'm trying to protect Chris Volstad as much as I can in that situation," he said. "I wish that I could have gotten there before so he couldn't take a swing at Volstad and I could try to get to the middle of it. He's very quick, and he's the only one that knew what he was gonna do. I kind of knew in the back of my head there was a chance he would charge if he gets hit again, but he kind of stayed for a second and then all of the sudden threw his bat and then started to run, so he kind of got everybody by surprise. In that situation, I just try to do whatever I can to try to protect my pitcher and get him off of him....

"But it's over now, things are done, so you've just got to continue playing. And we've still got another three games against them, and I'm pretty sure that all of this is done with."

Sure it is.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 2, 2010; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Comments

Hilarious, Steinz. Well done.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | September 2, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

This is a case of both Nyjer and the Marlins having too much pride, and taking it one step further. Did Nyjer steal those bases only because he got hit? Definitely. He should've just left it alone and played as he normally would down 11 runs. And after stealing those bases, the Marlins should've just laughed it off and left it alone as Nyjer being the d-bag that he is. Instead, they escalated the situation further by throwing at him again, as if to "prove" that they didn't appreciate him stealing. It snowballed from there. Both sides at fault.

And now it's to the point where some rookie is talking about the unwritten rules of baseball. Bleh.

Posted by: jdwood84 | September 2, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

so, sanchez kinda knew both that morgan was going to get thrown at again and that said throw would probably spark a brawl. sounds like reckless disregard to me. dont know how they can complain about him charging the mound when they expected him to do that.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | September 2, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The only unwritten rule that Morgan violated was not to put himself over his teammates. There is a reason why Torii Hunter apologized to his teammates for getting caught trying to steal third base with his team down two runs in the ninth inning earlier this season. Morgan running with his team down 11 runs should have earned him an ejection from his own manager.

And, judging by Morgan's .257/.317/.318 line this year and other recent bush-league plays, he has not earned any benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: jason_epstein | September 2, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Give me a break, getting salty because a guy steals a couple bases when you're up double digits?

Who cares? As someone who played baseball for almost 20 years of my life, many of the "unwritten rules" are just ridiculous.

Posted by: JTerp | September 2, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

First of all, Morgan isn't good enough to be pulling these kinds of stunts. I don't think it's routine with him, but he sure is starting to make it feel that way.

To me, it wasn't that he stole two bases, regardless of whether or not someone is supposed to be stealing bases when trailing by a lot of runs. But on his slide to third, he almost seemed like he was trying to take out the third baseman, and though something like that happens from time to time, it seemed to have a little message or intent behind it.

Unwritten rules are extremely confusing sometimes, but that's my take.

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | September 2, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a Nyjer apologist, and think that he should be gone next year - more so for his play all year than his recent rash of brash behavior. That being said, here's what's really bush about this whole thing: The Marlins threw at Morgan his 2nd at bat, after they were up by 11. He's the leadoff hitter - hit him on the first pitch and get on with the game. Its not as though this game had any playoff implications. But the Fish got a big lead and then said "hey, now would be a good time for some retribution." I think once your up by 11 you shouldn't be throwing at guys either - you've already got your revenge. Its a case of the Marlins taking too much umbrage at something that's not that big a deal, and trying to somehow make themselves the arbiters of "real baseball". And if Sanchez doesn't get suspended that's a travesty. 3rd guy into the fight, going at the head of an unsuspecting guy, that's weak.

Posted by: MoMonroe | September 2, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Baseball is stupid...

Oh, what... I mean baseball does itself no good to have so many tendencies that you cannot do. This sport has far too much passive-aggression. I had never heard that you cannot steal bases under certain circumstances. What good does it do? Well, a lot, especially if it gets the guys going, or if you want to get yourself some stolen bases.

Posted by: law3 | September 2, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Florida is trying to say that this is all Nyjer's fault and that he and the Nats should have rolled over an played dead after falling behind by double digits is comical.

Volstad hit two other Nats before he plunked Morgan. Morgan was the first player to steup up to the plate in the game but Volstad didn't try to hit him then, nor did Volstad go after Morgan during his second at-bat.

No Volstad waited until he had an 11 run cushion to play with before extracting his pound of flesh from Morgan. Florida didn't exactly follow the "Crock" either.

Posted by: CapsNut | September 2, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

If it's an "unwritten rule" that you can't keep trying to win the game (e.g. steal bases) when losing by 11, then baseball players are even dumber than I thought. The fans are paying good money to attend these games, and they ought to receive some effort in return.

Then again, as a Florida Marlin, Gaby Sanchez may be unfamiliar with the concept of "fans."

Posted by: drischord | September 2, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Post idea:

How about some great sports examples of when "literally" has meant figuratively?

When people use the word "literally" in a quote, it's usually good for a laugh.

Posted by: poorman1 | September 2, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

If you're trying to steal a base down by 11 runs, then forget what the other team thinks: your own manager should bench you!

I suggest reading this post: http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/what_is_the_break_even_point/

And when you sport a -1.5 WAR/.316 OBP in 116 games, then you probably shouldn't even be starting for your team.

Posted by: jason_epstein | September 2, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth can you not steal bases when you are DOWN 11 runs. This isn't bleeping little league with a mercy rule. Nyjer(who I don't like) got his team a run back an the Nats eventually cut the lead to 5. What, when a team is down 11 they should just stop trying?

If you don't want him to steal, hold him on the bag.

Posted by: Alisterio | September 2, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"If you don't want him to steal, hold him on the bag."

No argument there, Alisterio. My point was that a team down 11 at *any* point in the game is in desperate need of a big inning, not just one run. (Again, check the link that I provided.)

Posted by: jason_epstein | September 2, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"The problem with unwritten rules in baseball is they're not really written down anywhere. Someone should work on that. If "literally" can mean figuratively, there's no reason unwritten rules can't be written down."

They ARE written down now, in a book called "The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime" by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca. Maybe you could get Mike Wise to read it aloud on the air and you could transcribe it for those of us who are too cheap to buy it, or too illiterate to read it ourselves.

And like you, the authors are apparently bloggers too. thebaseballcodes.com. Check it out. They haven't addressed Nyjergate yet, but I have a feeling they might do it soon.

Posted by: FeelWood | September 2, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The marlins are weak. Talking about don't steal bases because you are down by 11. How much did the Nats lose by again??? 6 runs. So if we had any pitching last night the Nats would have been within one hit of tying tne game?? Boz really blew this one.

How can you judge a man on an incident in philly that nobody saw and two run ins with catchers?? The bump on the STL catcher was bad, but to say that Nyjer HAD to slide against the marlins is crazy. Lets say he slides head first and the catcher tags him out and breaks his wrist?? Or hits him and gives him a concusion? If the catcher doesn't want to get hit, he shouldn't block the plate......

Boz really came weak today. Unwritten rule, what a joke.......

Way to go Nyjer.

Posted by: punchdaclock | September 2, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Gaby Sanchez is a damn rookie lecturing a veteran on unwritten rules of baseball. Gaby's stupidity about this alone should eliminate him from Rookie of the Year consideration. Why wasn't he ejected by the way?

Down 11 and early, you should try to pick away at the lead one run at a time, and that's what Morgan did.

Also, Morgan is one of the fastest and best base stealers in the league so why not use your strengths.

The pitch behind him was totally uncalled for. Morgan deserved to get plunked once, but twice, including two others is crap.

Posted by: ssktigers | September 2, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Also, Morgan is one of the fastest and best base stealers in the league so why not use your strengths."

Except that Nyjer isn't. Even after last night's steals, his stolen base success rate remains under 70%. That is not impressive. And, again, neither is his .317 OBP. The guy should be riding the bench.

Posted by: jason_epstein | September 2, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Manager Jim...the Nat's should run whenever they want to and the heck with what the Marlins think about what is right and proper.

Second, we need to find somebody to kick Sanchez's butt...he got into it in a hurry "protecting" his pitcher, and somebody from the Nat's ought to turn his lights off.

I would have liked to seen more of the fight to see who was involved for the Nats..and who was just standing around waiting for it to be over...we need some nasty attitudes cause losing can bring a sense of complacency and there is no room for that.

Posted by: outrbnksm | September 2, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

That has been one of my points. Volstad hit 3 Nationals before the brawl and yet he was still in the game. The plunking of Morgan was expected (in the first inning!) but you say "Fine", warn the benches and move on. But then Volstad plunk two other guys and they leave him in. Lannan, in his Major league debut, gets a little jittery/excited/whatever and lets two pitches hit a Philly and he's gone. Volstad, a veteran pitcher, apparently is allowed to plunk as many Nats as he wishes.

*******************************************
Volstad hit two other Nats before he plunked Morgan. Morgan was the first player to steup up to the plate in the game but Volstad didn't try to hit him then, nor did Volstad go after Morgan during his second at-bat.

No Volstad waited until he had an 11 run cushion to play with before extracting his pound of flesh from Morgan. Florida didn't exactly follow the "Crock" either.

Posted by: CapsNut | September 2, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | September 2, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Strasburg, Nyjer Morgan is now the most exciting member of the Nationals. Wish I still lived in DC so I could go to a game- watch him throw tantrums, yell at fans, start brawls...

Really, the Nats are going to need some press without the wonder kid, I think Nyjer's just doing his part to keep the team...relevant. Any publicity is good publicity right? Gotta sell those tickets next season.

Posted by: wheresgibbs | September 2, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I have used a Nats game as an example of when "literally" has meant just that. A 1-0 game against the Mets in Sept 08 and I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole game. I was barely in the seat because I was so nervous the whole game. Go thing there was no one in the row in front of me because otherwise I would have been on top of them.

*******************************************
Post idea:

How about some great sports examples of when "literally" has meant figuratively?

When people use the word "literally" in a quote, it's usually good for a laugh.

Posted by: poorman1 | September 2, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | September 2, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of unwritten rule questions...

Is it an unwritten rule for a non pitcher - Sanchez in this case - to interfere with a player charging the mound? I seem to recall an incident about 5 years back similar to the Nats game yesterday where the first basement (or possibly catcher) got to the batter before the batter got to the pitcher. That first baseman was subsequently beaned for violating the unwritten rule. It is a vague memory, so I could be entirely wrong.

Shows you the absurdity of unwritten rules and beaning...

Posted by: niceshoes1 | September 2, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Who says the unwritten rules aren't written down? From amazon.com:

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca

The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime by Paul Dickson

The Code: Baseball's Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein

Posted by: Cosmo06 | September 2, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

You're right Dan. This is far from over. Someone will throw at somebody tonight. That's the beauty of Directv and the MLB Network now. We can see it happen! I think there needs to be a "make love not war" attitude for MLB, and they need to bring back a classic. Yesterday's incident was too ugly for the game's image. My solution on Sotospeaks

Posted by: sotospeaks | September 2, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

So, if a team gets a 6-run lead, or an 8-run lead or a double-digit lead, why don't they just call the game -- as someone said in an earlier post, just implement the Little League mercy rule? Apparently players on the team that's down big are supposed to quit trying to win, according to Gaby, Boswell and other commenters here. That does not make sense! The Nats still had plenty of time to stage a comeback when Nyjer stole the bases!

Having said that, I have no problem with Gaby running to the mound to keep Nyjer off of Volstad. Or is there an unwritten rule against 1st basemen running to the mound when the batter charges?

Free Nyjer!

Posted by: HonestBroker1 | September 2, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

How come nobody is mentioning the Nats 3rd base coach jumping in on the pile?

I mean the dude is probably twice as old as some of the players and didn't think twice to jump in and help out Nyjer. Old man got some balls on him.

Just imagine how funny it would be to have been in attendence and notice that the third base coach was running in to the melee.

Posted by: mtorioles | September 2, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight. It violates an unwritten rule to try to score runs when you're down? That's a ridiculous unwritten rule. Cleveland overcame an 11-0 deficit against Seattle a few years ago. It doesn't happen often, but to just give up on a game when there are still innings left to play based on some stupid unwritten rule is insane.

This is why baseball is retarded on so many levels.

Posted by: StuScott_Booyahs | September 2, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

So an 11 run lead in the 4th Inning is probably the equivalent of leading by 31 pts in the 2nd Quarter in the NFL. If going by this unwritten rule, the trailing team has no right in throwing 50 yard bombs, fake punts, and/or blitzing the QB? Give me a break baseball.

Posted by: visionof75 | September 2, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

The Marlins and the Nats are going to have different opinions about what happened and why; and what "unwritten rules" were violated. That's fine.

Here's an unwritten rule for you that everyone can agree on. Rookies, like Gaby Sanchez, should shut-up, sit-down, and butt-out.

In other words... shut your yap, rook.

Posted by: noslok | September 2, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm no Nyjer fan, but I hope we stick a fastball in Gaby Sanchez's ear next week. Him clotheslining Morgan was chickenbleep. Volstad can take care of himself, and he'd better be prepared to fight after he hit three batters and threw behind Morgan.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | September 2, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@JasonEpstein

I kind of get the math behind the posts there, but T Hunter trying to steal down 2 runs at the end of the game is not really the equivalent to down by 11 inthe fourth.

If they are not holding you on, then you take the base. You can't show me enough game theory to convince methat getting a base for free is detrimental to the team's scoring more runs.

Posted by: Alisterio | September 2, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

So the Marlins got upset because Morgan ran into the catcher in the 10th inning of a 0-0 game?

OK, so where does that leave Pete Rose leveling that catcher in an ALL-STAR game, an exhibition game years ago? Charlie Hustle? Gimme a break.

So now, they retaliate. And do it again in because in the 4th inning the guy has the cojones to steal 2 bases when his team is down by 11? How many times have we seen a 6, 7, 8 run rally in one inning in baseball game? If they were in the 9th inning, OK, I kinda get it, but in the 4th there is a lot of ball to play, and the Nats got it down to 5 runs.

All these unwritten rules just make baseball look like a game for sissy's. Roided up sissy's.

Posted by: vmrg1974 | September 2, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Plush.

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | September 2, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

"The problem with unwritten rules in baseball is they're not really written down anywhere."

Well if that ain't redundant!

Look, there's a certain professionalism to the game. If you HONESTLY cannot understand that it's disrespectful, whether it was Nyjer Morgan or not, to go out there and steal bases 11 runs down I don't know what else to tell you.

I know you have to defend your Nationals (I'm not a fan of either team before you ask) but this is what happens when the manager doesn't have control over his team. Morgan should have took his HBP in the 4th inning and have been done with it, but this is Nyjer Morgan we're talking about.

Here's hoping Riggleman can get his team in order (and Listach for that matter) because it really reflects poorly on everyone else out there to play ball.

Posted by: JoeBrones | September 2, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

In addition, remember when everyone talked about "unwritten rules" when Alex Rodriguez walked across Dallas Braden's mound earlier this year? These aren't "unwritten rules", it's a matter of respect for everyone else out there.

I read a lot of "oh well who is Dallas Braden anyway?" Not that it even mattered, but on top of that a month later he goes out and throws a perfect game.

The term "unwritten rules" infuriates me because it's used by people that aren't embracing the game. It's just used by hacks with columns to write.

Posted by: JoeBrones | September 2, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

IIRC, Alisterio, the Marlins nearly threw Nyjer out at second base, meaning that the play was hardly uncontested.

Look, we can debate when it makes sense to play for one run in an inning. When you are down 11 in the fourth, however, even a Ron Gardenhire team will adapt Earl Weaver's strategy.

Posted by: jason_epstein | September 2, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"Except that Nyjer isn't. Even after last night's steals, his stolen base success rate remains under 70%. That is not impressive. And, again, neither is his .317 OBP. The guy should be riding the bench."

The majority of analysts will say he is one of the fastest, if not the fastest players in the league. Does that automatically correlate to steals? No, but like Strasburg, the baby and coddle Morgan, too, demanding he not slide headfirst on steals because he broke some bones last year. Most of the time when he is caught stealing, it is because he is picked off at 1st base. The 1st base coach has to be held somewhat accountable for the size of his leads and helping him get back.

Posted by: ssktigers | September 2, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

JoeBrones writes: "I know you have to defend your Nationals (I'm not a fan of either team before you ask) but this is what happens when the manager doesn't have control over his team. Morgan should have took his HBP in the 4th inning and have been done with it, but this is Nyjer Morgan we're talking about."

First off, why are you even commenting on this if you're not a fan of either team? Secondly, what does "but this Nyjer Morgan we're talking about" mean? Thirdly, what does "should have took his HBP in the 4th and have been done with it" mean?

Nyjer did take his HBP and jogged to first base. He didn't charge the mound. There were still 5-plus innings to play, and Nyjer was trying to help his team win by getting into scoring position.

Posted by: HonestBroker1 | September 2, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I personally don't believe in unwritten rules,but if there are rules, one of them is: You only throw at a player during one at bat.

Posted by: sportsfan2 | September 2, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Unwritten rule: If two men are fighting, you let the two of them settle it without jumping in to help, especially when the one you're "helping" is already 10 inches taller.

Unwritten rule: If you're throwing at someone, you do it once, not 4 times.

And since when should someone care about the other team's SP's ERA? If you don't want them stealing bases and scoring, don't let them on base.

Posted by: wis193 | September 2, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

How many of you can take a 90-MPH baseball and jog calmly to 1st base??? Any takers?

No? Then enough of the criticism of how Morgan should respond.

I like Bos, but anybody who says "I understand throwing at him" - even once, is a COWARD.

Posted by: jboogie1 | September 2, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Let me make sure I understand this "unwritten rule": If you get hit by a pitch in retaliation, you're NOT SUPPOSED TO KEEP TRYING TO WIN THE GAME? Is that it? I just want to be clear on that. A man on first is on first, a man on second -- or third -- is in scoring position.

If that's the "rule", it's pretty damn stupid. Maybe Sanchez should have had to play the rest of the game with one hand in his pocket for violating the unwritten rule of cheap-shot clothes-lining another player.

"Unwritten rule" my a$$.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | September 3, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

How moronic. Things like this make me want to kick the baseball teaches us the meaning of life crowd (e.g., costas, burns, george will, boswell) in a very sensitive place.

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 3, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

It really is stupid. You try to put your team in a position to score runs, and if stealing bases can get you closer to doing it, then that's what you do.

Posted by: linroy62 | September 3, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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