Ann Cannon: Don’t choke your teammate and more unwritten rules of baseball

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2016 04:16 pm

Dear Major League Baseball Players,

The other day as I passed through the room where one of our boys was watching ESPN, I noticed two guys fighting in a dugout. The same dugout. And they were wearing the same uniform. In other words, these two guys were teammates. Punching each other. On TV.

"Wait," I said. "What's going on here?"

"Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon had a fight," he said.

"But they're both on the Nationals. What were they fighting about?"

"Papelbon was mad at Harper because he didn't run out a pop fly."

And my reaction was all hey! I'd punch someone for not running out a pop fly, too! For one thing, there's always the chance that the batter might make it to first base if someone drops the ball. For another, running out a pop fly shows hustle! And while it's true that an excess of hustle can be annoying, it is better to err on the side of "hustle" than of "not hustle."

The more I've read about the incident, however, the more I'm actually Team Harper on this one. Memo to Papelbon: Dude. Do not choke your teammates. Thank you.

Still. There are just some unwritten rules in baseball that I think should be honored. Like Tom Hanks' character Jimmy Dugan in "A League of Their Own" says, "There's no crying in baseball!"

Here are a few more unwritten rules I want to see you observe as America heads into playoffs this week.

1. If you hit a home run, don't watch it. You're not one of us — i.e., you're not a spectator. So don't just stand there and spectate. We're not paying you boatloads of money for that. So start with the victory lap already.

2. Also, please have the decency to get your heart rate up as you jog around the bases after hitting the above home run. Otherwise you look like a cocky jerk and Papelbon will probably try to strangle you to death on national TV when you join him in the dugout.

3. If you get hurt, rub some dirt on it and get back into the game. Actually, depending on how financially valuable you are to your organization, your manager (and your agent!) might think this is a bad idea. I, however, think this is an excellent motto for life in general. In fact, I'm gonna stitch this motto on a pillow and put that pillow on my living-room couch. Then I'm gonna go outside, rub some dirt on myself and get back into the game. (Whatever that game happens to be.)

4. If the pitcher on the opposing team hits one of your guys with a fastball, make sure your pitcher hits one of their guys later in the game. This is ııthe time to get some religion and turn the other cheek.

5. If a fight breaks out, immediately clear the bench. Punch the other guys. Not your guys.

OK. I realize that it's supremely easy for me — a person who has never played an actual inning of actual baseball — to give this kind of advice. You know. Sort of like how easy it was for Dick Cheney — who deferred military service five times — to send troops into Iraq.

Still, I think following these unwritten rules will make for an awesome October.

So go ahead and play ball!


Ann Cannon