Unwritten Rules, Boo Birds and Playing to Win

So, sunday june 13, 2010 was round 3 in the 6 round series of cubs-whitesox in interleague play. This was actually a pretty good game to watch. The White Sox had already won the friday and saturday game and the Cubs were obviously hoping to not get swept at home. In the annals of baseball, that would be a horrible thing to happen given the rivalry of the Series against the White Sox. Some of the excitement in this game was because the Blackhawks brought the Stanley Cup to the game and the team was in attendance to throw out the 1st pitch (an honor they gave to John McDonough who used to work for the cubs) and sing the 7th inning stretch (a tradition at wrigley that is long in need of retirement — another day another post).

Aside from the Blackhawks, there was quite the pitching duel between Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd. They both had no-hitters going into the 7th inning. A no hitter is exciting, but to see a good old fashioned pitching duel where both pitchers were no-hitting the other team is like a wet dream for baseball purists. The Cubs broke through first in the 7th inning against Gavin Floyd with Soriano getting a double and then being driven home by Tracy to make the score 1-0. Lilly going into the top of the 8th still had a no-hitter and Gordon Beckham came up to bat. Beckham, being not so good this season decided to try and lay down a bunt to get on base. Immediately the Boo Birds at Wrigley came out in full force. Beckham said later he didn’t know why he was getting booed because he wasn’t thinking about the no-hitter, but was trying to get on base to help his team so they could WIN.

Why the Boo Birds? Well, because there is an unwritten rule that in a no-hit situation, after usually the 7th inning you try to hit yourself on base and not go for the “cheap” trick of laying down an bunt. Except, this typically only applies when the score is rather lopsided of say 3 or more runs. When you are only down by a run, all bets are off and you try to get on base anyway you can – including putting down a beautifully executed bunt. Even the Four-Letter Network announcers kind of chastised the boo birds and said it was a smart thing of Beckham to try and bunt to get on base. Yes, it would have been nice to see Lilly (one of the few likeable cub players for this white sox loving girl) to get a no-hitter, but winning the game is still important. (even if the white sox are not contending this year and if you pretend otherwise, i want some of your kool-aid).

Of course, I could use this as an example of people not truly understanding the game (more importantly cubs “fans” not knowing anything), but there is no point. People are entitled to their opinion (however dumb and uninformed it may be), but the unwritten rules in baseball can be quite confusing if you don’t truly follow and understand the game down to its fine minutiae (such as knowing there are times when an error occurs in a game and the pitcher can still be charged with all the runs that occur after the error occurred). In any event, I am glad that Beckham was not trying to play to help Lilly get a no-hitter but was remembering that his team was down by ONLY ONE RUN and that he should PLAY THE GAME TO WIN! As an aside, the white sox did lose the game 1-0, but they did get a hit in the 9th inning when pierre got a hit off Lilly. Then Marmol came in and made the game interesting where the Sox could have taken the game from the Cubs. Sadly, the White Sox went back to playing their kind of crap ball for the season and that was that. Lilly didn’t get a no hitter, but at least he got the win in a well pitched game.

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