CultureSaturday 05.07.22

St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Jack Flaherty on Baseball’s ‘Unwritten Rules’

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Last week’s brawl between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals resulted in a few players being suspended for one or more games.

What caused the melee? In a game last Tuesday, Cards pitchers hit three Mets batters with pitches. The Mets were understandably unhappy, because, well, it really hurts to get hit by a pitch.

The following day, J.D. Davis of the Mets took yet another Cardinals pitch off his foot. So, going by the “unwritten rules” of baseball, the Mets had every right to retaliate. But their pitcher, Yoan López, apparently went about it the wrong way. Instead of plunking Cards batter Nolan Arenado on the leg, he threw close to his head – and for Arenado at least, that was a no-no. He started screaming at López, López started screaming back, and the benches and bullpens were emptied as players rushed the field. A Cards coach ended up body-slamming the Mets’ Pete Alonso to the ground, and the coach, Arenado, and the Cards pitcher Génesis Cabrera were all suspended.

The truth is, when you go back and analyze the causes for such fights, the unwritten rules that were presumably violated are inconsistent, and tend to vary greatly from one team to another’s interpretation. Will argues it’s time they be retired forever, and that we admit that sometimes players are simply spoiling for a fight.

St. Louis Cardinals’ own star pitcher Jack Flaherty was fined for his role in the latest bust-up. He joins LZ and Will to talk about the culture surrounding these unwritten rules, and the gestures and dangerous plays that stoke the tension that sometimes leads to physical altercations.

The Long Game