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Unwritten Rules

So, occasionally I listen to sports talk on ESPN.com while I’m working. The drivel helps me focus as the radio personalities discuss one topic ad nauseum for an hour at a time.

One of today’s topics discussed unwritten rules of baseball, which got me thinking about the unwritten rules we might face in life and how, occasionally, we probably should put them out there for confirmation, clarification, or discussion.

Let me set the stage (if you could care less about baseball, skip down to the “Baseball Anecdote Ends Here” line): In the Angels – Tigers game Sunday, several unwritten rules were broken. But these were not cut-and-dry because of the tone that was set. Here’s what happened:

  1. 1.  Early in the game, a player hit a home run and stood at the plate for what pitcher Jered Weaver thought was too long, so Weaver jawed at him for it. The unwritten rule? Don’t taunt the pitcher when you just launched one on him (Ordonez actually wasn’t sure the ball was fair).
  2. 2.  Later in the game, Tigers’ Carlos Guillen, unhappy with Weaver’s jawing, hit an obvious homer and intentionally stood at the plate until the ball cleared the wall and Weaver noticed him still standing there. Guillen clearly breached the above unwritten rule…and changed the attitudes of both teams for the game’s remainder. Arguably, he was justified because of Weaver’s smack talk all game.
  3. 3.  Weaver immediately responded by throwing a brush-back pitch near the head of the next batter. Unwritten rule? When an opposing player does something wrong, pitchers are entitled to -and often expected to- retaliate (the best ex. is to hit a batter after one of your own batters has been hit). Weaver was tossed because he was just warned by the ump NOT to do that.
  4. 4.  In the 8th inning, Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander had a no-hitter going. I’m going to spare my female readers on all the superstition that surrounds a “no-no” but down 3-0, Erick Aybar decided to bunt to try to get on base. (Aybar is fast and often bunts to get on base so this is not unusual). Unwritten rule? No bunting when a pitcher is close to finishing a no-hitter.

In the last 24 hours, No. 4 seems to be the most-discussed issue of the four. But, it’s not cut-and-dry that what he did broke  the rule.  Why? Because the Angels were only down by 3 runs and can easily generate 3 runs with a spark (they generated 2, by the way). Some would argue that the rule doesn’t really come into effect until near game’s end. Is that the 7th inning? the 8th? the 9th? It also depends on the circumstances. Was the pitcher dominating or was he lucking out with good and lucky defensive plays? If he’s dominating, maybe Aybar shouldn’t have bunted. And what about the earlier antics of Guillen? Does one disrespect beget another?

I recall when Cal Ripken, Jr. was days away from breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record. An aggressive young base runner tried to slide cleats-up into Ripken to break up a double-play to first. Ripken was fine after a tumble, but the base runner’s own teammate chewed him out for almost ending Ripken’s streak. What he did was absolutely correct by gamesmanship standards, but there was a higher respect to be paid at this point. Sometimes it requires doing the right thing even when the other person did the wrong thing.

I think it’s called “maturity” and “etiquette.” In this vein, Aybar probably shouldn’t have bunted in the 8th inning, though the game was close enough that he was entitled to do whatever he needed to do to help his team win. If he did it simply to snub the unwritten rule and to pay the Tigers back for Guillen’s faux pas earlier, then he was in the wrong because right is right.

**Baseball Anecdote Ends Here**

Now onto the fun part. Again, this made me think about the kind of unwritten rules I encounter or otherwise see in my life and in my neighborhood (as I’ve written before, we have an awesome neighborhood of probably 30 sets of families who may spend time together in some fashion). Here are a few humorous Social Unwritten Rules I came up with in no particular order:

  1. 1.  Don’t ask how someone’s ex’s new baby is doing. Even if the divorce is amicable, do you think he really cares?
  2. 2.  If you get invited to someone’s large neighborhood party, put them on your large party invite list. If you do omit someone, remember you can use the excuse of changed-over emails, Evite.com defects, or “I could swear you were on the list!” And a late invite is better than no invite.
  3. 3.  Never, ever, ever, ever… check out your friend’s high school or college-aged daughter. And never make any comment that belongs in the local sports bar about her to her dad. Ever.

...or look, or comment...

 

  1. 4.  Don’t pout about non-invites where there are parties of 3 or 4 couples. Sometimes, people make spur of the moment plans and you had to be there OR sometimes it’s just easier to go with two or four other people. And single people, sometimes it’s a couples thing.
  2. 5.  DON’T discuss the single guy’s past girlfriends, dates OR ex with the new GF or date when you first meet her, and especially when you’ve been drinking at one of said large parties. It serves nobody but your own need for gossip, makes the GF/date uncomfortable, and puts me -errrrr- the single guy in a bad position. This rule applies even when I -errr- the single guy agrees that the story is funny. Speaking of funny, check out this funny site of stories: mygirlfriendiscrazy.com
  3. 6.  Don’t brag on Facebook about every single

    A prelude to the "Ignore" option

    achievement and event your kid is doing. Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else praise your kid…even if it’s not announced to your 552, now 551, FB friends.

  4. 7.  If you live in a townhome/condo, don’t pollute the neighborhood air with cigarette smoke and daily (and nightly) loud phone talking on your patio and then gripe about someone’s dog dropping a present near your patio. <– This would fall under the above Aybar rule where you may break a rule (dog-dropping) due to the tone set by the previous player’s antics (second-hand smoke and loud yapping).  Good dog…
  5. 8.  Never show up in a cash game of poker, win early, and then leave before the others have a chance to win their cash back.
  6. 9.  Never bad mouth public schools to your friends whose kids attend public schools.
  7. 10.  Always one-up your friends with stories of how awesome your kid is. Failure to do so (read, silence) indicates you aren’t doing enough as a parent to keep the conversation rolling. Similar to this is the unwritten rule that, if your kid is mediocre or only above average, embellish a little…
  8. 11.  Remember to invite the single parent occasionally for dinner, a beer, etc. Even though they may turn you down 9 times in a row, the 10th may be a charm and it makes them feel good. ;-)

I know there are probably two dozen others I didn’t write, so feel free to add some.

Happy Etiquette-ing,

Bill

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