A-Rod Breaches Baseball Etiquette

Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez pushed Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden over the edge Thursday when he walked over the pitcher's mound. Melissa Block talks about A-Rod's foul play with Paul Dickson, author of The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Last night, playing in Oakland, the New York Yankees turned their first triple play in 42 years. But instead, it's an alleged breach of unwritten baseball etiquette that has bloggers fired up.

Here's the supposed transgression. The Yankees' Alex Rodriquez ran across the pitcher's mound as he jogged back to first base after a foul ball. And at the end of the inning, the Oakland pitcher, Dallas Braden, let A-Rod have it, screaming stay off my mound with some saltier language tossed into.

Well, here to referee is Paul Dickson. He's the author of "The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime." Paul, welcome back to the program.

Mr. PAUL DICKSON (Author, "The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime): Thank you, Melissa.

BLOCK: And let's picture what happened here. Alex Rodriquez is the runner on first. His teammate hits a pop-up foul ball down the third baseline. A-Rod has almost made it to third base. He's heading back to first and he takes the shortest possible route, I guess, which takes him right across the pitcher's mound. Breach of etiquette, what do you think?

Mr. DICKSON: Yup.

BLOCK: Yes. No question?

Mr. DICKSON: Yeah, no question. Im very old school with this. I mean, the larger here is respect. So if you go around the bases and your flaps are down or you're pumping your fist, you're showing disrespect for the pitcher. It's like running up the game, you know, you've got a no-hitter going, and you break up the no-hitter with a bunt, or you do something like that, where you're actually showing some disrespect.

And so, a lot of this has to do with the fact that most ballplayers and this has been true for a long, long time have sort of the, it's almost like they just watched "The Godfather," and they're very perceptive of somebody sort of transgressing on their turf.

BLOCK: On their turf.

Mr. DICKSON: And running across the mound is about I mean, I didn't even put it in the book because it was such an obvious violation.

BLOCK: You're going to have to add a new chapter.

Mr. DICKSON: I have to add a new chapter.

BLOCK: Well, this is what the pitcher, Dallas Braden of the A's, said. He said it was about respect. He said after the game: If my grandmother ran across the mound, she would have heard the same thing he heard. Why his grandmother would have been, you know, on the diamond, I don't know.

Mr. DICKSON: But she could probably hit the inside fastball.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: I don't know. But A-Rod says, I've never heard of this rule.

Mr. DICKSON: I mean, I think I don't think Jeter would have ever done it.

BLOCK: Derek Jeter.

Mr. DICKSON: I don't think Derek Jeter would. I don't think Paul O'Neill would have ever thought of it. And I think one of the reasons why these things are important is you're likely to play, especially early in the season, you're liable to play another 10, 11 games with a team that's in your division, maybe even a dozen.

And from your standpoint, it makes the other team sort of angry at you, which is one thing. But by the same token, it motivates them. It's sort of like having a sign on the clubhouse wall with a picture of A-Rod doing this, running across the mound, that you'll probably be hearing in a lot of bullpens in the next couple days. So it's actually it's not really very bright on the part of somebody who does that.

BLOCK: This question of turf, I was reading a comment from another writer on baseball etiquette, Michael Duca, who said: Bob Gibson, the legendary pitcher, was very well worst in protecting what he called his office. Had that been Gibson on the mound, A-Rod would have picked himself off the grass to get back to...

Mr. DICKSON: Denny McLain would have done the same thing. There are a lot of old school pitchers, including a lot of Yankees that would never have allowed that.

BLOCK: A-Rod's got to have some defenders here, though, people just saying it's the most direct route. What's the big deal?

Mr. DICKSON: Because it's actually it'll actually hurt in the long run, it'll probably actually hurt A-Rod because, just because of the fact that now -they lost the triple play last night.

BLOCK: Well, nobody's paying attention to that.

Mr. DICKSON: No, no, it's like it didn't happen. And the fact that Oakland won the game last night, which is maybe that motivated them to win the game. But the fact of the matter is, it's like in anything else. You know, marriage has unwritten rules, like loose change on the bureau is community property and that kind of thing, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DICKSON: There are certain things that, you know, when you get married to somebody, you observe you don't have to say to them every day about every aspect of life has unwritten rules. It's sort of one of the ways you keep sort of order. It's etiquette.

I'm very old school on this. I think he should never have done it, and I think he looked like a fool.

BLOCK: Well, the commentary will go on and on. Paul Dickson, thanks for coming in.

Mr. DICKSON: Thank you.

BLOCK: Paul Dickson, getting ready to add a new chapter to his book, "The Unwritten Rules of Baseball."

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

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