But there are also the unofficial rules. It is not "against" the rules in baseball for a rookie to admire his home run for too long, and then strut around the bases, showing up the pitcher in the process. Even so, if Lastings Milledge does that, he is not only going to get drilled, he is also going to get dressed down by his own teammates. There is no rule that the opposing team has to help a catcher from breaking his neck on their dugout steps, but any team that doesn't will quickly find that same courtesy lacking when the tables are turned. My only (and perhaps obvious) point is that there is a "code" in baseball that governs conduct, and while it puts winning first, there are some limits.
A-Rod, of course, does not feel bound by this code, and engages in the kind of tit-for-tat, petty bullshit that makes people absolutely hate him. Last night, in Toronto, Jorge Posada hit a routine pop up that would have ended the inning if caught. Approaching third from second on the play, A-Rod yelled something that distracted third baseman Howie Clark, who then backed off of the ball, allowing it to land on the infield, which in turn allowed all runners to advance safely.
Words were immediately exchanged between the players, with Clark (and Jays' shortstop John McDonald) accusing A-Rod of shouting "mine" (a typical way one fielder calls off another from making a play). A-Rod (who could be seen smirking as the Jays' manager argued the play), lamely explained:
He didn't break any official rules last night, but what he did, if it became more prevalent in the game, would be bad for baseball. There would either be people running into each other on the field getting hurt (because you couldn't trust that the person calling you off was a teammate), or people dropping routine pop-ups left and right. That's why this sort of thing doesn't happen.
Just because he "can" do it, doesn't mean he should, nor does it mean that we shouldn't criticize him for it. That's what he doesn't understand.
The black will go nicely with the pinstripes, Mr. Rod.
Afterwards, not even the Yankees were wholly supportive, with Joe Torre and Johnny Damon offering meek, non-committal support for the bush-league play. (Side note: fantastically, after the game, the entire Blue Jays team just sat in the dugout staring at A-Rod. He is so drilled on July 16 when the two teams play in the Bronx. I'm there).
Tellingly (and proof positive that the baseball gods hate A-Rod and love me), this entire episode unfolded on a day on which the New York Post published pictorial evidence that A-Rod is, in fact, a cheater. Now, A-Rod is certainly not the first professional athlete to enjoy all that a strip club has to offer, but it is noteworthy that his entire day was characterized by accusations that he doesn't play by the rules.
Arguing this point with a co-worker this morning (who is a yankee fan), I wrote the following:
He is a cheater, he plays the game the wrong way, and he has still yet to collect one meaningful hit after labor day in his entire career. A-Rod is the f*cking worst (side note: I try not to curse at work), and you would hate him more than anyone if he were on any other team.