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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Taunting. It's time for rules in baseball, too.

Preening jackasses is what I've called some National Football League (NFL) players for several seasons.  Among the three top professional team sports leagues in the USA, football probably has the worst behavior, both on and off the field.  Baseball has been the best with basketball's NBA (National Basketball Association) somewhere in between.  However, the Major Baseball League (MBL), as I like to call it, is fast descending, abetted by limited criticism and far too much encouragement and approval from the main stream media, which seems to be searching for relevance.

Ironically, it's the NFL that has explicit rules against taunting:

Rule 12 Player Conduct

Section 3 Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Article 1 There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct. This applies to any act which is contrary to the 
generally understood principles of sportsmanship. Such acts specifically include, among others: 
(a) Throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent even though no contact is made. 
(b) The use of abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, 
 or representatives of the League. 
(c) The use of baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams. 
(d) Individual players involved in prolonged or excessive celebrations. Players are prohibited from 
engaging in any celebrations while on the ground. A celebration shall be deemed excessive or 
prolonged if a player continues to celebrate after a warning from an official. 
(e) Two-or-more players engage in prolonged, excessive, premeditated, or choreographed celebrations. 
(f) Possession or use of foreign or extraneous object(s) that are not part of the uniform during the game 
 on the field or the sideline, or using the ball as a prop. 

Main stream media types have taken to using the phrase No Fun League (NFL).  See what they did there, the main stream media?  They used the league's initials to mock it.  Pretty clever, huh?  They seem to think so because some of them just can't stop saying it.  Argh!

About 28% of MBL players are from countries other than the USA.  Each has its own culture and protocols.  For decades USA players have played in Japan, where conduct is much more restrained than here.  Those USA players generally conformed to the Japanese code of conduct.  Unfortunately, the main stream media seems to think it's somehow enlightened for more unrestrained forms of conduct to be absorbed in the USA rather than those guest players conforming to the USA conduct.  This has exacerbated a general break down in basic forms of proper sportsmanlike conduct.

Taunting has become prevalent in the MBL and it's increasing.  One fundamental problem is that baseball has by far the most uneven relationship between opposing players: pitcher-batter.  The pitcher has the ball and as such has become the on field arbiter of behavior.  If a batter does something the pitcher does not like, the pitcher may take retribution by smashing the batter with a ball thrown faster than 90 miles per hour (mph). The batter is expected to take this and not retaliate.  The batter has no comparable recourse as there is in football and basketball.  This is part of what so enrages baseball players and baseball fans alike.  It's the basic unfairness of the violence.

That imbalance is probably a big part of why batters now seek some small level of revenge by standing at home plate and posing after hitting a home run and trying to taunt the pitcher further by slowly trotting around the bases in the unique victory lap that a home run affords like nothing in football or basketball, where even a break away score can theoretically be thwarted.  The home run victory lap may not be interrupted, not even by the catcher Brian McCann.

The pitcher, of course, remembers this and drills a batter in retaliation sooner or later.  And on it goes.

I really like the enthusiasm that's prevalent in all three sports.  But I only like it in the context of sportsmanship and awareness of the sensibilities of opponents.  Rubbing it in is never good.  Oh, and keep your uniform on.  The Rafael Soriano thing of pulling out the uniform shirt as soon as the game is over is spreading and it looks foolish and really unprofessional.

The MBL needs to legislate this by adopting rules on taunting specifically but also rules on general sportsmanship, conduct and appearance.  Some players dress like slobs.  What the heck?  You're at work.  Dress appropriately and act accordingly.


Me said...

I love baseball precisely BECAUSE of this. Players are free to show emotion. And, if that emotion turns to disrespect, the players themselves will handle it, rather than umpires stepping in and impacting the outcome of the game. I don't know why so many fans are opposed to the display of passion from their athletes. You want them to be professional... they're playing a GAME. Yes, this "game" is a multi-billion dollar industry in which they are paid millions to participate, but it's still a game that, at the end of the day, means nothing for the fans watching it other than entertainment and a sense of pride. Why take that so seriously? I love when one of my guys hits a massive home run and then stands at home plate just watching it go. Take that, other team. And if the other team does it to us, fine. You got us today. We'll get you tomorrow. That's the fun of watching and caring about sports. I don't need to see a bunch of robots going about their business. That's what the NFL wants. And it truly is getting less and less fun to watch. Give me baseball. Give me bat flipping and next at bat beanings. Give me passion.

Kenneth Matinale said...

To: "Me" (avatar, no face)

Baseball players do it now. They did not do it before. You like it now but not before. You don't like baseball. You like bad behavior.

Me said...

Baseball players have always done it. I grew up watching Albert Belle flex his biceps and bowl over second basemen who were in his way, Manny Ramirez just stand at the plate admiring his home runs as they soared into the night. Just as with any time period in the sport, there are different personalities, some quieter than others, some more boisterous. Give me variety. What reason do you have for wanting to white-wash everything and make it all boring and the same?

Kenneth Matinale said...

Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez were two of the biggest jerks of their times. No wonder you like them. I watched Mickey Mantle run out his home runs with his head so that he wouldn't embarrass the pitcher. There was plenty of emotion but players still behaved on the field where it counts.

Boring is watching jerks and having people make excuses for them. We're done.