The unwritten rules of baseball are a set of unspoken rules in baseball that some players and managers follow. The rules often concern gamesmanship and not disrespecting players on the opposing team. Incidents have occurred when one or more players interpret the actions of another player as violating the unwritten rules, which can result in beanballs and bench-clearing brawls. As the rules are unwritten, and in many cases vague, the interpretation is left to the players involved.
Since the beginnings of baseball in the 19th century, players have adopted unwritten rules about how to behave during the game. According to sportswriter Ross Bernstein, these rules have evolved over time. Joe Garagiola Sr. wrote a book about baseball published in 1960, titled Baseball is a Funny Game, in which he mentioned the unwritten rules of baseball.
In his book, Garagiola described the "purpose pitch", also known as a brushback pitch, a pitch thrown towards the batter's head. In 1986, Peter Schmuck and Randy Youngman of the Orange County Register wrote a column on the unwritten rules, identifying 30 such rules. The column was later carried by Baseball Digest in their June 1986 issue.
The unwritten rules of baseball are meant to establish certain behavioral thresholds for sportsmanship. Though some rules are universal, they are not always enforced in an equal way. Certain players are given more leeway than others, especially veteran home run hitters who take time admiring their home runs.
The unwritten rules include:
Some unwritten rules are no longer followed. The baseball color line, dictating that African Americans could not play in Major League Baseball (MLB), was an unwritten rule. It was broken in 1947. There was also an unwritten rule that stated that players could not fraternize with their opponents on the field. Umpires used to watch out for this behavior during pre-game batting practice. With increased player movement between teams, this rule is no longer followed.
In 1979, pitcher Ed Farmer allowed a home run to Wayne Gross, and felt that Gross took too long rounding the bases. The next time they faced each other was four years later; they were teammates and Farmer hit Gross during batting practice to retaliate.
In a 1964 game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies, the Reds' Chico Ruiz stole home during a scoreless game, while Frank Robinson, their best hitter, was at bat. The Phillies felt this violated baseball's unwritten rules, and he was hit in the ribs during an at bat.
Pitcher Bob Gibson was a known adherent of the unwritten rules. He once beaned an opposing batter for a perceived slight that occurred 15 years earlier. Nolan Ryan adhered to the unwritten rules, and was known to retaliate for violations against other teams' players with beanballs. He would also throw beanballs at hitters who bunted to him, making him field his position. The Chicago White Sox took issue with his brushback pitches, leading to a brawl between Ryan and Robin Ventura after Ryan threw at Ventura during a game in 1993.
In 1994, while playing in Minor League Baseball, Michael Jordan violated the unwritten rules by stealing third base even though his team had an 11–0 lead. His manager, Terry Francona, explained the unwritten rule to him after the game.
Alex Rodriguez was twice criticized for violating the unwritten rules during his career. In 2007, Rodriguez distracted Howie Clark from catching a pop up while he ran the bases. During a 2010 game between the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees, Rodriguez ran from first to third base on a foul ball, and crossed the pitcher's mound while returning to first base. Athletics' pitcher Dallas Braden called out Rodriguez for crossing the mound.
Players who have bunted to break up a no-hitter have received attention. Ben Davis bunted against Curt Schilling during a potential perfect game in 2001, stirring controversy. During a 2014 game, Andrew Cashner was in the process of a no-hitter, when Domonic Brown bunted for a hit. Andrelton Simmons bunted for a hit during a no-hitter in 2018.
In 2015, Manny Machado hit a home run off of Jonathan Papelbon, and Papelbon believed that Machado took too much time admiring the home run. The next time they faced each other, Papelbon threw at Machado's head. Bryce Harper, Papelbon's teammate, took issue with Papelbon's reaction. When Harper failed to hustle on a fly out, Papelbon confronted Harper in the dugout, leading to a fight. Harper later called for the end to the unwritten rules. While many fans agreed with Harper, players supported Papelbon.
In the 2015 American League Division Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers, the Blue Jays' José Bautista hit a home run and flipped his bat in an exaggerated manner. Pitcher Sam Dyson took offense to the bat flip and told Edwin Encarnación to tell Bautista to "respect the game". The next year, Bautista slid into the Rangers' Rougned Odor, leading to a fight.
In a 2019 National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, Reds player Derek Dietrich hit a home run against pitcher Chris Archer, which bounced out of the stadium and into the Allegheny River. The Pirates felt he admired it for too long of a time, and Archer threw behind him on his next at-bat, sparking a brawl that resulted in the ejections of four players and Reds manager David Bell. Dietrich went on to hit another home run that also left the stadium, though the Pirates eventually won 7-5. 
In 2018 MLB launched a marketing campaign called "Let the Kids Play", which explicitly criticized the unwritten rules concerning bat flips and player celebrations. MLB began embracing bat flips, promoting them to fans on social media. This became an issue of contention when Tim Anderson did a bat flip after a home run in April 2019. Pitcher Brad Keller hit Anderson with a pitch during Anderson's next at bat, causing a bench-clearing brawl.
In baseball, a bat flip is the throwing of a baseball bat in such a way that it rotates several times before landing. It is typically done by a batter to show off after hitting a home run. This is in contrast to the usual practice of dropping the bat straight down as the batter begins running to first base.Running up the score
In North American sports, "running up the score" occurs when a team continues to play in such a way as to score additional points after the outcome of the game is no longer in question and the team is assured of winning. In the United States and Canada, it is considered poor sportsmanship to "run up the score" in most circumstances (exceptions are listed below). Sporting alternatives include pulling out most of the team's first string players, or calling plays designed to run out the clock (e.g., in American football, kneeling or running the ball up the middle). The term and the concept are not common elsewhere in the world. Mercy rules are used in many amateur sports, which ends the game when the score reaches a certain point.
The most common negative consequences of running up the score are injuries to a game's starting players, lack of experience for the non-starting players on the team (in those cases where starters are left in a game well after the outcome is certain), and motivating future opposing teams. Players on the losing side who feel disrespected may decide to vent their frustration through violent or unsporting play, which can lead to injuries and fights, and even post-game punishment such as fines or suspension from future play.
Some have advocated in favor of running up the score using arguments which include catering to polls, getting additional experience, and to prevent comebacks.
Running up the score is considered poor sportsmanship by many fans, players, and coaches but with different opinions how big an insult it is. Allegations of poor sportsmanship are often brought up soon after a team scores multiple times near the end of a one-sided match.Unspoken rule
Unspoken rules (synonyms: Unwritten rules) are behavioral constraints imposed in organizations or societies that are not voiced or written down. They usually exist in unspoken and unwritten format because they form a part of the logical argument or course of action implied by tacit assumptions. Examples involving unspoken rules include unwritten and unofficial organizational hierarchies, organizational culture, and acceptable behavioral norms governing interactions between organizational members.
For example, the captain of a ship is always expected to be the last to evacuate it in a disaster. Or, as Vince Waldron wrote, "A pet, once named, instantly becomes an inseparable member of the family."