Yesterday, as Robinson Cano fisted one of Dallas Braden’s pitches down the left field line in the sixth inning, Alex Rodriguez sprinted to third base. Because the ball was foul, Rodriguez then headed back to first base. However, en route to first, A-Rod chose to run straight across the diamond, stepping on the pitcher’s mound, and on the rubber, on his way back, which visibly upset Braden. Apparently, Rodriguez broke an unwritten sportsmanship rule by doing what he did. If true, it wouldn’t be the first time for A-Rod.
Following the game, Braden, who barked angrily at Rodriguez in the sixth, berated A-Rod, noting that he should model his behavior after the archetypical Yankee, Derek Jeter. “He should maybe watch his captain a little more often,” quipped Braden. The Oakland pitcher even suggested that there would be retaliation in the future – presumably a pitch to the ribs – if Rodriguez chose not to heed his words. Of course, A-Rod’s take on the situation was a bit different from Braden’s. “He just told me to get off his mound. That was a little surprising. I’ve never quire heard that, especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career.” While A-Rod was somewhat flippant with Braden’s perspective, this was, in my opinion, understandable, as another unwritten rule was broken, this time by Braden. Apparently, baseball newbies should not criticize baseball veterans (and, in this case, the veteran involved happens to be a baseball great and a Future Hall of Famer), at least not to the degree in which we witnessed yesterday.
So, in essence, you have two unwritten codes, each of which, if broken by a player, can spark criticism. Now, for arguments sake, let’s say that A-Rod fuddled his baseball etiquette by stepping on the mound and the pitching rubber during yesterday’s game. Perhaps Braden has a legitimate beef if such is true. However, I would think that Braden’s over-the-top response – overly angry, highly critical, and extremely disrespectful – was an even bigger break from baseball’s tacit ethical code. If he took issue with A-Rod’s journey back to first base, then maybe he should have said something and moved on. If it were the third inning or so, the appropriate response would have been to plunk A-Rod. He could have responded in a number of ways, but he resorted to an in-game and post-game tirade, creating a media spectacle. The point is, Braden’s response was not inline with baseball etiquette. Thus, A-Rod’s response, calling him out for his thin resume, was appropriate. Everyone seems to be focusing on Rodriguez’s action when, in reality, there were two cultural codes cast aside that day. Braden’s, however, was the worst violation.
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