There's apparently a so-called "old school" unwritten rule that says a player shouldn't be swinging at a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded and a seven-run lead. It's beyond stupid to me and we (the CBS Sports MLB team) outlined all the reasons why it's incredibly dumb in this week's roundtable.
As the dust clears surrounding the Fernando Tatis controversy, I think there's a silver lining to this situation: It appears most of the baseball world thinks it was dumb to complain about a 3-0 homer, and the only thing the Padres superstar did wrong was apologize. It hasn't been universal. After all, it looked like veteran leader Eric Hosmer was scolding Tatis in the dugout, and we had both managers grumble about the situation. There was also former Mets star and current announcer Keith Hernandez saying you can swing on 3-1 instead of 3-0, which is amazingly dumb to me. How in the world does the count matter? Either you want him to stop trying or not.
Anyway, most of the rest of the comments we've seen these past two days from players, media, managers and fans alike think it was ridiculous to complain about the swing and that these are professional athletes out there to compete for entire games, not just when the other side thinks it's acceptable. A long line of past and present Major Leaguers said it was fine, including past generation Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench.
Fernando Tatis keep playing hard and playing great, it’s a pleasure to watch you play, love your success and the Padres rise to be a winner. Keep leading the way. It ain’t easy to hit Hrs. Keep bringing energy you have to the game, we need players like you. An All Star— Reggie Jackson (@mroctober) August 18, 2020
There's a lengthy post in The Athletic in which everyone pretty much agrees there's nothing wrong with Tatis' grand slam, including comments from pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer along with Cavan Biggio, who was raised by a Hall of Famer.
All of this says to me that we're collectively evolving and making progress from some of the ridiculous things people in the distant past thought were "unwritten rules." I've long lamented the mentality that it's tough for a pitcher to give up a home run and then throw at the next guy. It's the opposite. It's poor sport, cry-baby type stuff. It's you hurt my feelings so now I'm gonna throw things at your teammate in anger. That's cowardice, not toughness.
I've used the analogy before but it still applies: If you saw a person get really mad at another person, run 60 feet away and throw a rock at the other person, you would never, ever call that person tough. You'd say it was a cowardly act, because that's exactly what it would be. That's what throwing behind Manny Machado was. Cowardice. Feelings hurt over another playing trying and playing hard ain't tough. Hitting a grand slam is pretty damn tough.
Many of us have been fighting this battle against the unwritten rules for years. We haven't won everyone over, but we sure seem to have been collectively making progress for quite a while. Sure, we shouldn't have even been having this discussion in the first place and I hate that Tatis' own manager didn't have his back, but overall seeing the overwhelming support for Tatis is pretty satisfying.