7/20 Baseball’s unwritten rules

There are a lot of unwritten rules in baseball. There are a lot of things that happen on the field that stay on the field. When I came up, umpires treated the veterans a little differently than they treated rookies. It was not in a bad way, it was just a respect thing, a seniority thing. Veterans have a little bigger strike zone when they’re pitching against a rookie. When I came up, Maddux, Glavine were getting calls on balls off the plate. You don’t say anything. You earn your time and you earn the right to say things.

But then it comes to a point where an umpire sometimes will say something out of the box. He doesn’t mean any harm, but he’ll say it to a young guy who doesn’t know how to take it and it gets back to the team and gets back to the manager or the front office, and after looking at the Marlins series and how the season has gone like ours, it’s not well received at all, even if it’s said in a joking manner. Maybe it can rattle a guy and when the outcome of that at-bat when he’s spoken to is a negative with a strikeout, it really doesn’t look right. The big thing in baseball is it’s a fraternity. Umpires are included in this fraternity and we all need to be on the same page and work together. Communication has to be out there.

Mike Quade had our backs in his post-game interview the other day. He said exactly what needed to be said — he didn’t say too much and didn’t say too little. He got it out there and it was heard and hopefully it doesn’t happen again. The umpire knows who he is and the player knows who he is and the umpire knows what he said. Hopefully, there’s an apology that comes the next time that crew comes to town and if not, just make sure it doesn’t happen again.

— Marlon


  1. Jake Munson

    “Umpires are included in this fraternity and we all need to be on the same page and work together. Communication has to be out there.”

    I think this is awesome to hear. From a fan’s perspective, it often seems like the umpires are the enemy. To hear from a player’s mouth that the umpires are part of the fraternity…that really changes my outlook on a lot of things.

    I remember times when an umpire is hit in the face mask by a foul tip, and while he is recovering you see players from both teams crowding around him with concern. It’s times like this that you see a bit of this fraternity mentality.

  2. givejonadollar

    Baseball is a billion dollar game. This was a respectful post Marlon, but my opinion is that the new job for the umpires needs to be watching a screen that tallies balls and strikes in a K-Zone. Teams, nor players, should be missing the playoffs because of bad calls. It happens WAY too much and could literally change the fortunes of the standings dramatically if the game was called correctly the way it should be. The technology is there and keeping umpires around in the current capacity should not be a sacred cow.

    • Sean Sallier

      This thought of robotic umpires is totally blowing my mind. I inherently want to disagree but I find myself actually agreeing – even still, I don’t think I like it very much.

    • Jason

      I would much rather see replay options than the idea of having a computer call balls and strikes. Umpires add flavor to the game and to relegate them to a position that they cannot really participate in a game, is a game that I do not want to watch.

      How would a computer be able to call someone out at second? Balls and strikes are not the types of errors that cause a team to make or miss the playoffs. And frankly, umpire errors are not causing teams to miss the playoffs. They may affect the outcome of a game, but good teams overcome these types of mistakes.

  3. Keithman

    Hi Marlon!

    I’m a big fan of patterns. I’m not talking about plans for designing dresses and leggings…that’s my sister-in-law Tara who knows those patterns. The patterns I’m talking about are more like this…siht ekil erom era tuoba gniklat m’I snrettap ehT…The patterns I’m talking about are more like this…siht ekil erom era tuoba gniklat m’I snrettap ehT…The patterns I’m talking about are more like this…

    I say this because some people are just into shapes and some people are just into colors. I like shapes and colors but I think that patterns are important. They tie it all together. They bring symmetry…much like the human face. That’s why I like switch hitters better…because they have ear flaps on both sides of their helmet. Have you ever thought about tangents? I know, I’m even blowing MY mind here so I can only imagine how you’re feeling right about now. Tangents are really great because they only touch one point on a circle and continue off into eternity. Maybe you should tape just the middle of a flat stick to your helmet and when people ask you what it is (like the catcher when you’re at bat) you can just look at them and say “tangent”.

    You’re probably thinking “man, this Keithman is really into geometry.” I’m not. I haven’t thought about geometry in quite some time. Let me ask you this…would you consider visiting my brother-in-law Andy’s church this off season? Don’t be scared off by his tattoos and his skater shoes and his home brews. Not everything about the guy rhymes with “ooze” so it’s cool, Marlon. Maybe you could sign the Marlon Byrd autographed ball he has on his mantle.

    Marlon, I’d love to tell you about my bruised hand and my 14 at-bat hitting streak and the fact that church league softball keeps getting postponed and cancelled but I don’t want to heap my troubles on you. You guys are 20 games under .500 so who am I to complain? PS – I’m batting .941 right now.

    Also, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about in your blog this time. Maybe I should watch some games again, but I’ve been watching a lot of soccer and I hate to admit it but I really like it. Alex Morgan is way prettier than you. So is Hope Solo…by the way, is she related to Han?

    One more thing: BANANAS!


      • Keithman

        Hi GetThatGuySomeHelp!!

        There isn’t much sun here in the Pacific NW right now…and my season need for Claritin (or rather the much less expensive generic Loratadine) has passed. Thanks!


  4. Dave

    Keithman is definitely into patterns. Sadly, his pattern is that of a blubbering idot! He should continue watching soccer, and post his blogs in his own mind(what’s left of it!)

  5. gidard

    one thing is for certain; if calls were made by machines and looks at replays, glavine would be nowhere close to even 200 victories. one time sammy sosa purposely swung at a pitch from glavine and looked back at the umpire to let him know that the bat wasn’t long enough to hit a strike, 1 foot off the plate and I’m not kidding about the 1 foot. and the gutless announcers( you know who you are) would comment, “if a catcher lines up outside the plate and the pitcher hits that spot consistently the umpire is going to call it a strike”. It got to where I couldn’t watch more than a couple of innings if glavine pitched against my team. I always wanted to see a sports cartoon showing the catcher crouched halfway between home and 1st and glavine hitting the “spot consistently” and the umpire yelling “strike!”. the debate about human umpires vs. machine assisted is a tough one, but in the last few years there have been some tough, touchy, ‘oops’, goof-ups in the play-offs and that is the last place bad calls can be tolerated.

  6. Mary

    Your the best!! Please stay in Chicago for a long time. I love the way you play. You know how to play the game correctly. Thanks for the smiles in center field. I know it must be a frustrating season, but you have a lot of fans who know you are working hard to be the best. Thank you for that.

  7. Martin Urbanczyk

    this is why you are a respected player. the game could use many more players with your respect for the game. thank you for your hard play in this unfortunate season.

  8. Kenneth Wilbur

    There are a lot of unwritten rules in baseball. Yes Marlon, that is so true, and most of these rules were written way back when there were no millionaires playing the game….it was not too long ago that the Babe signed for the huge, unheard of sum of one hundred thousand dollars…..some of these rules have been passed down but you must admit that things have changed….some on here even want a machine to call balls and strikes…..you could even just put the two team rosters into a computer and it would tell the winner without playing the game….they do that with old time teams….if the players and managers do not make any more mistakes than the umps they stand a very good chance to win….baseball is a game of failures, a good hitter fails 60% of the time, hitters swing at far worse pitches than what the ump calls.
    Earlier this season Q made a statement about the unwritten rule of stealing a base when you had a big lead in the game….that is one you remember but you never say it to the media, I do not believe that you should change the way you play because of the score….so many batters strike out and when they are on their way back to the dugout they look at the pitcher, I guess to see if he is laughing….they pop up and they don’t run it out….the most they come to the plate is 4 – 5 times a game, they can at least run it out like you do each and every time, in the outfield, on the average they get 3 – 6 chances a game, they can take each of these serious as you do….like in the All-Star game last year, some seem to think that there is an unwritten rule that in the All-Star game you don’t do that, you don’t take out the catcher like Pete Rose did, I am from the old school and i believe that if it is worth doing it is worth doing right….. we must always remember that home plate Ump gets 200+ chances each game, and most of them do a great job, the same on the bases, so often the announcers say it was a missed call but the run it back several times and find out it was the correct call, the same with pitches….sure there are mistakes, it is a game of mistakes, if the pitcher never makes a mistake there will be a bunch of low batting averages…….

  9. Mike Meyers

    Interesting perspective, Marlon. I’m sure you know it all better than we do. Hopefully the ump owns up to it and is the bigger man.

    At any rate, thanks for being the player and person you are. I know we’re gonna be sellers this year, I’m just praying we hold on to you until you’re ready to retire, as a Cub. I’ve only bought one jersey in the last 15 years, and it’s yours. Keep on being you – in a season where there’s not much to cheer about, you’re one of the reasons I turn on the TV or show up to the ballpark every day. Truly an honor to watch you play the game as it’s meant to be played.

  10. Larry Dean

    Absolutely! Wish there were more like Marlon, going full speed on a grounder-walk or a homer. Takes nothing for granted. Leaves it all on the field. Keep up the great work Marlon, and I too hope you are here for many more years, you deserve to be here when the Cubbies win it all. If the young guys follow your example—that may not be too far in the future!

  11. Kevin Sykes

    Since 1979 I’ve been watching the Cubs. You,and Jim Edmonds have been the best key men on the team. The team needs leaders not overpaid people that don’t perform. My son and I love to watch you play, too bad we didn’t see you in KC. We need you in Chicago because Ryne Sandburg and your enthusiasm could get what the Cubs are looking for, win or lose Game 7 of the World Series. P.S We need the leadership you provide.

  12. Bill Crubaugh

    Just 1 question, I realize getting to the playoffs every year is really hard and getting to the World Series is even harder. But what is it that has kept the Cubs out for 100+ years? Day games, club house culture, old ownership what????

    • Keithman

      Hi Peggy Schmick!

      I have been a Cubs fan since 1989! I’m just so discouraged by the mismanagement of contracts by the front office. If you would like to know more please check out my blog as it will give you some real insight…and it might even make you think a little.


  13. Andrew Gonsalves

    Marlon, I recently saw you at a game wearing a Power Balance bracelet. I realize you might believe that there is some athletic benefit to wearing it, so I would just like to inform you that the company that makes them admits that there is no scientific evidence to support that they work. They have been forced to withdraw from several markets because of their fraudulent claims. The demonstration they do to “prove” that they grant balance is actually more of a magician’s trick. Any benefits that you do gain are actually due to the placebo effect and are not properties of the bracelet. Really, I urge you to think about it. How exactly is a silly little bracelet supposed to affect your body? They give you some crap about energy and whatnot, but that defies the laws of physics. They are banking on peoples’ ignorance. Please take off the bracelet; don’t become a spokesman for ignorance and gullibility.

  14. Darrell

    I lost all respect for Byrd when he defended Holliday’s spiking of Starlin Castro, on a slide so far away from second base that Holliday could barely reach Castro.

  15. Larry Dean

    First of all…keithman—get some therapy and mental health help–quickly!
    Secondly, Marlon, I too am a lifelong CUB fan and respected you most of all because of the way you play the game. I think you are way wrong, however about the Holliday slide issue. He went in feet in the air and spikes right at Castro. You should have backed up your team and teammate, NOT the opposition. Holliday’s slide is not playing the game hard, it is play that has no business in the league. The umpire horribly miscalled the play and someday umpires need to be held accountable for terrible calls/non-calls. Talk to the kid who lost a PERFECT GAME because of a horrible call by an umpire. Maybe they should be sent to the minors when they screw up just like players, with a cut in pay and benefits each time. I’ll be willing to bet we would get some much needed quality umpiring if that was in effect.

    • Keithman

      Hi Larry Dean!

      First off all therapy costs money which is a good reason for you to go to my blog at http://dirtwank.blogspot.com and click on an ad or two that interest you! I would love to go in and have a nice deep tissue massage…I just hope they tissue they use is sturdier than the sandpaper they have on the tp rolls here at my office! I don’t know how deep the tissue goes, but I can’t imagine you want it falling apart when it’s in there.

      Secondly, people continue to talk about this mental health thing. I have been taking Menthol lozenges for a while now and they have a delicious minty flavor. I assume they will make my mental better since Menthol sounds like the same word. Thanks for the tip!


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