Unwritten Rule

Mets beat the Phillies with 7 runs in the 9th and win 8-7. If the Phillies would have stolen a base or two they may have won the game. But, they would have been called for running up the score. The Unwritten Rule. If the Phillies could not steal, then the Mets shouldn’t be allowed to hit home runs. You need to score as much as you can. Not sure if the Unwritten Rule is more for the fans or the players. Long time Cardinals fan.

I have enjoyed MLB since around 1945 and have never seen or heard of any such unwritten rule.

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You’ve been around it longer than me - by a decade or so…but I have been aware of the so called “unwritten rule” at least from back in the day. Team has a big lead late in the game, its considered unsportsmanlike to steal a base. I remember when Lou Brock broke that rule in the '67 series(?) against the BoSox; cards had a nice lead late, but Brock singled, then promptly stole 2d. The sox 2d sacker made a snide remark as Brock stood up from his slide -something like, that was a bush play! Brock replied with, you would do the same if you got the chance. Brock of course was about to break the WS record for individual stolen bases.

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If a MLB team can overcome a 7 run deficit in the 9th inning, then it only makes sense for the leading team to try to add to it in their turns at bat. I don’t know how large a deficit must be before it’s considered poor sportsmanship, but I’ve heard of 9 & 10 run innings. If a team is up 12-0 in the 9th, well maybe you don’t steal, but if that’s gonna be the “unwritten rule” then there needs to be a run rule. As Yogi said about baseball, “it ain’t over 'til it’s over.” Therefore, you keep scoring. This isn’t like football or basketball where a clock can limit chances. As long as there’s an out to play, a game can be lost–no matter how long the odds.

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Ole Miss scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 8th last year to beat LSU to win 10-9.

That must have been the most nauseating display of we-haven’t-been-there-before this side of Knoxville.

I think it is pure bush league to steal bases late in a game. After you go up by 20 runs.

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Unless it’s Tennessee or Mississippi.:smile:


Oh that goes without saying. :sweat_smile:

That rule is there sort of. I would not follow it. If I am up by 20, I will want to make it 21. Big comebacks can and do happen. I remember one night listening to the Cards (I did that nearly every night) playing I think Philly. They were down by 9 in the top of the 9th with 2 outs and nobody on. Yep, they scored 11 straight and won the game. I don’t believe in too big a lead or too many runs. Keep scoring until all the outs are gone.

Lesson learned. Now teams have good reasoning not to follow that one at the expense of the Phillies.
Very old Unwritten rules aren’t official rules anyway.

With arbitration tied to performance it isn’t fair to the player to not put forth their best effort when stolen bases, runs scored and batting averages are used as leverage at the bargaining table.

I guess I’m just a screaming, bleeding heart, softie. I am not telling my guys to steal any bases if I have a 20 run lead in the top of the ninth. Now if they decide to do it on their own, that’s their business.

Jim, I remember a Cardinal game vs. the Cubs that was much like that.

Yes, one of the many “gentlemen’s agreement” rules in baseball.

You’ll know you have a good youth/travel coach if they know to not let kids steal or take extra bases once the lead is in double digits. If you approach a 20-run lead you go to bunting every pitch, preventing bludgeoning the other team’s pitching staff. Little things.

To be fair, I think some rules for sportsmanship should be a bit more strict in high school & little league games. I agree there’s a point when it appears the leading team is just being jerks, but as long as it’s possible to make up 9 runs, I can’t blame a team for trying to get 10. Sometimes, of course, you know when the other team is not capable of scoring that many. Regardless, I’d be hard pressed to criticize a coach for not taking advantage of opportunities in the top of the 9th if the lead is less than about 15 runs.

If a team is leading by 8 or 9 runs with the home team batting in the bottom of the 9th and there are 2 outs, I’d let a runner steal a base without trying to throw him out, I think.

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