The Ole Ball Game

As a Coach, telling your batter where the catcher is setting up (in or out) considered cheating in baseball ?

by Dan
(Hawaii)

One Of Baseball's Unwritten Rules

One Of Baseball's Unwritten Rules

Dan asked: As a coach, telling your batter where the catcher is setting up ( in or out) considered cheating in baseball. An ethical or good sportsmanship question.



Rick answered: Dan, thank you for your question.

It would be considered both an ethical and good sportsmanship issue.

An additional related scenario is a batter sneaking a look back attempting to steal a catcher's signal for what pitch is coming.

There is also some consideration given to runners on first looking in to see what pitch is coming, to gain an advantage in possibly stealing a base on an off speed pitch.

All of these come under the heading of Baseball's Unwritten Rules, of which there are many.

Generally the enforcement of these rules comes in the form of the batter being hit by a pitch, or if the offender was a base runner, possibly he will become a target in his next at bat.

Coaches who are telling batters where the catcher is setting up are creating a situation where the retaliation will undoubtedly be centered on that teams best player, or their pitcher, even though it was an unethical coach who set him up.

At the MLB level, these retaliations for Unwritten Rule Violations happen quite a bit. May carry over from year to year(s), depending on the original violation.

College level and high school baseball will participate at various times, if it is felt that the opponent had violated the code. Less often than MLB.


Yours in baseball,

Rick

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Apr 19, 2016
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Reply to Rick
by: Dan

Aloha Rick,

Thank you for your time and consideration in answering my question.

To explain my side of the story, if there is any advantage I can give my players I would definitely do so. For example, in football, if the opposing team does a shift or motions a player a certain way, possibly indicating a play they like to run out of that formation, I'm yelling to my players the play and to adjust to stop that play. That's the thing "try to stop the play". Just as in this situation, even though I'm telling my players where the catcher sets up, they still have to "hit the ball". On that same note, in baseball when I yell out of the dugout to shift my defense to where their batter has been hitting all game, how is that not ethical and calling the catcher's position is ?

As for the sign stealing, my first base coach figured out the opposing team's pitch sequence. He would relay to the batters what to watch for on certain pitch counts. I guess it was close to what they were calling so they figured we were stealing their signals.

When it comes to Baseball's Unwritten Rules, in all due respect to the game of baseball, in my opinion, seems to be an outlet for doing unsportsmanlike acts. For stealing signals, you get a baseball to your head, how is that sportsmanlike ? If someone figures out your signals, just change them, it's as simple as that, why should you retaliate in a way that may potentially hurt someone. Another example, before the Chase Utley rule, it was ok to deliberately slide into a player, knowing it could possibly cause injury. On that particular play, Chase Utley (with one of Baesball's Unwritten Rules in mind) was directly responsible for a fellow professional athlete's season ending injury and also possibly taking away his livelihood. I think baseball finally got it right on this one with the new rule.

Again, in all due respect to you (Rick) and the game of baseball, thank you for letting me share my opinions.

Mahalo Nui Loa (Thank You Very Much),

Dan, Hawaii


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