Major League Baseball is back. There is still a global pandemic to navigate, but the 60-game regular season is well underway and the Aug. 31 trade deadline is right around the corner. Hopefully the season can be completed safely and a World Series champion can be crowned.
Throughout the season my fellow CBS Sports MLB scribes and I will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we looked at the six franchises still searching for their first World Series title. This week we're going to tackle the .
Was Tatis wrong to swing 3-0 with the bases loaded and a seven-run lead?
Katherine Acquavella: *Insert extremely dramatic eye roll that my mother would most definitely disapprove of here*
I hate even having to entertain this question in 2020, let alone entertain the futile debate of baseball's "unwritten rules." But you know what, for the sake of our loyal CBS Sports readers, let's do it. So, let's say we have to break down this recent scenario to someone who has very minimal Major League Baseball knowledge whatsoever.
OK, first things first. There's this incredibly talented player in baseball right now, and he's just 21-years-old. His name is Fernando Tatis Jr. He's currently battling it out against some of baseball's biggest stars for top spot in the home run leaderboard. This 60-game season, due to the coronavirus, is much shorter than the normal 162-game schedule so every at-bat and every game means more. Tatis plays for the San Diego Padres, an upstart club looking to return to the postseason for the first time since 2006. In a game against the Texas Rangers on Monday night, with the Padres holding a seven-run lead, Tatis hit a grand slam in the eighth inning with one out.
Wow, that sounds awesome! If only fans could have been there to see it in-person.
Yes, it was indeed awesome. But his own manager and the opposing team's manager got annoyed and shared their frustrations publicly because he should have "shown some respect" and taken the pitch instead of swinging. It was a 3-0 count meaning Tatis had the advantage.
Wait, didn't you say the bases were loaded? Wouldn't someone have probably scored at least one run before the inning was over anyways?
Wait, is there a mercy rule in baseball?
Isn't it the pitchers' job to get the batter out? No matter how challenging the matchup may be?
And wait, didn't you just say that every at-bat means more this year?
And, isn't the goal of baseball to score as many runs as you can to help your team win? Aren't comebacks possible?
Isn't it also fun for players to hit home runs?
Sounds pretty perplexing, doesn't it?
Things only got more absurd when the pitcher who came in to relieve after the grand slam threw a pitch behind Manny Machado in the immediate at-bat after. He later got suspended by the league. The fact that Padres manager Jayce Tingler worked under Rangers manager Chris Woodward last season should not complicate the situation whatsoever. If your old boss' team gives up a grand slam against your new team, so be it. Scoring runs -- literally the entire objective of baseball -- has nothing to do with respect or unwritten rules.
What makes the game of baseball so great is that each team has to get 27 outs to finish a game. There's no way around it. Batters are going to keep swinging until the final out is recorded no matter the score. And that's why people watch baseball; it's exciting to always be reminded that anything could happen.
In the age of MLB promoting their 'let the kids play' campaign -- reinforced by the Kid himself, Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. -- why is it that there are still people directly involved in the sport getting mad? Let's hope this is the last time we spend this much energy turning something fun and exciting into a discussion about nonexistent rules.
R.J. Anderson: No. Print that in full please. Thank you.
Mike Axisa: No. Come on, this is ridiculous, The Padres blew a 10-run lead four years ago. The Rangers ran up the score on the Orioles a decade ago. Play until the game is over, and if Woodward finds it offensive the other team is still playing hard late in a blowout, he is free to pull his players off the field and forfeit. He obviously had no confidence his team could come back. And good on MLB for suspending Woodward and Ian Gibaut for throwing at the next batter, the baseball equivalent of a toddler throwing his plate on the floor because he doesn't want to eat his vegetables, except much more dangerous. No one is tuning in to watch Fernando Tatis Jr. take a 3-0 pitch. Let the kids play, huh? Maybe complain about something other than a superstar doing superstar things next time.. This is the big leagues. If you don't want the other team to let it eat when you're getting blown out, don't get blown out. It really is that simple.
Dayn Perry: Yeah, this is an extremely stupid controversy. There's absolutely nothing wrong with what Tatis did. These are professionals -- the best players in the world -- and at that level there's simply no such thing as "running up the score" or whatever the underpinnings of this are supposed to be. Show some toughness and fortitude and get the batter out or accept the results of not being able to do that. These aren't eight-year-olds. The Rangers and Chris Woodward should be completely embarrassed by their laughably weak response to a guy doing what he's paid to do. Also, shame on Jayce Tingler for not backing up his guy in this situation. If the opposing manager is acting like a child, and Woodward absolutely was, then you call your counterpart out. It's telling that legions of current even old-school retired players have expressed support of Tatis. Woodward needs to do better or let someone else have his job.
Matt Snyder: Absolutely not and it's embarrassing this is even a discussion. These are professional athletes, not Little Leaguers with hurt feelings. I'm embarrassed for both managers for even talking about this. Chris Woodward comes off like a cry-baby at worst and poor sport at best and what can you even say about Jayce Tingler calling out his young superstar for trying? Pathetic. The only thing we should be talking about is how awesome Tatis is at playing baseball.
Oh, by the way, the Padres had lost five in a row and their bullpen ERA is 6.19. I'm bewildered that Tingler seemingly did not want his team to tack on.
This is a total crock.