The Otter’s Dozen
One of the earliest controversies of this baseball season involved the Orioles, when Twins second baseman Brian Dozier accused Baltimore’s Chance Sisco of breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules by bunting in the ninth inning of an April 1 game that was seemingly already decided, with the Twins holding a 7-0 lead.
Never mind that, fittingly on April Fool’s Day, there was no no-htter or perfect game on the line, and the Twins had employed a defensive shift that afforded the rookie catcher a wide-open left side of the infield to drop a bunt to try to spark a rally.
The claim universally outraged fans, at least here in Baltimore (and, for the most part, around MLB). Dozier figured that Sisco’s overstep was so egregious was that he was confident that the Orioles clubhouse leaders would surely agree with him and set Sisco on the right path.
Outside of a small segment of the Minnesota Twins fan base, all of baseball appeared to disagree with Dozier — even a good number of Twins faithful even showed disagreement — but it dusted off the generations-old debate on what baseball’s “unwritten rules” really are, and if they’re still valid.
One respected member of the baseball community who spoke out on social media after Dozier’s accusations was former closer Gregg Olson. The first six years of his 14-season career were with the Orioles, including his 27-save effort in the legendary “Why Not” season in 1989. By the time he moved on away from the home bullpen at Camden Yards, he had compiled 160 saves, which still is the most in team history. One of those saves capped a shared no-hitter in which “Otter” made history with Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan and Mark Williamson against the A’s in Oakland on July 13, 1991. Olson struck out Jose Canseco and Harold Baines on six pitches to tie a bow on the 2-0 victory.
By the time he retired after the 2001 season, he had also suited up for the Indians, Royals, Tigers, Astros, Twins, Diamondbacks and Dodgers.
That’s a lot of clubhouses in a decade and a half. He was exposed to a lot of philosophies and ideals within baseball at that time.
That’s why he felt compelled by the occasion to offer an unwritten rule for his followers every few days over the last couple weeks. Some had some sarcasm involved and most are understandably from a pitcher’s perspective, but, hey, at least someone has finally thought to write ’em down. Once again, Olson gets the save.
Olson graciously allowed Eutaw Street Report to publish his “Closer’s Dozen,” which he admits could grow to more entries, when so inspired, on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. His (first?) 12 follow below.
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As promised. Unwritten baseball rule #1. There is no bunting for a hit in the 9th inning (only 9th). If the shift is deployed, then this rule is void.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 3, 2018
Unwritten baseball rule #2. Thou shall not say "No hitter" in the midst of a no hitter. Really becomes taboo after the 5th inn., when you start to see teammates avoiding said pitcher like the plague.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 3, 2018
Unwritten baseball rule #3. If you hit one of mine, I hit an equal or greater one of yours. See Exodus 21:23-24.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 4, 2018
Unwritten baseball rule #4. Unless you are the pitcher, do not set foot on the mound.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 5, 2018
Unwritten baseball rule #5. Do not make the first or third out at 3rd.
Yer already in scoring position, don't be greedy.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 7, 2018
Unwritten rule #6 ( pertains to how to handle being the victim of rule #3). If you are hit intentionally, after your pitcher hit 1 of theirs OR you have an idiot who showboats a HR, don't start a fight. Just run down to 1st base, take 1 for the team. See Matthew 5:38-42.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 8, 2018
Unwritten rule #7. Do not run up the score on an opponent. This means halting all stolen bases, it does not mean to stop hitting/pitching/playing defense. "Calling off the dogs" happens at the manager's discretion. EVERYONE has a different threshold.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 9, 2018
Unwritten rule #8. Stealing signs is OK, just don't get caught. Some books say sign stealing is taboo but it's not. If your signs are easy enuf to steal, it's YOUR fault.
If you get caught sign stealing, someone gets hit. If you get caught, it's YOUR fault.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 10, 2018
Unwritten rule #9. Do NOT stand in the home plate circle (Dirt area surrounding home plate) when a pitcher is warming up! Do not even get w/in 10 feet of said circle.
You may get hit during warmups if you are on the dirt (it's a free shot).
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 11, 2018
Unwritten rule #10. Nothing that happens in the clubhouse, leaves the clubhouse. These signs are posted in every clubhouse.
"What you see here, what you hear here, what happens here, STAYS HERE!"
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 12, 2018
Unwritten rule #11. Do not show up the other team or a player. This means admiring HR's, doing happy dances after K's.
"Act like you've done it before".
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 13, 2018
Unwritten rule #12. If your pitcher gives up a bomb (long HR), make an effort to appear like you are trying to chase it down. Don't just stand there and watch it fly over your head.
Thought of this as I watched Puig last night.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 14, 2018
Unwritten rule #13. Don't touch other people's stuff. Do not try on someone else's glove. Do not mess with people's personal clothes, game spikes etc.
— Gregg Olson (@GreggOlson30) April 15, 2018
Be sure to follow Gregg @GreggOlson30 for more unwritten rules…it doesn’t seem like he’s quite finished yet.
He has also been engaging with fans who express disagreement with the rules, explaining them and himself in more detail. It’s been a great conversation to watch for any fan of baseball.