“I think it’s a respect thing. The problem in college baseball is you have a chance to end the game by getting a lead of eight runs after seven or 10 after 5 and sometimes that opens up the door,” said Temple coach Craig McMurtry said.
“You can think, ‘our bullpen is hurting right now’ and you try to swipe a bag to get a runner in scoring position and try to win the game early and save the bullpen.
“In pro ball you don’t have that rule and once you get to a certain point in the 7th inning and you have a 6- to 8-run lead you don’t steal, and if it’s a big lead even earlier in the game like 10-12 in the 4th you don’t do it because they think you are trying to show them up by scoring a lot of runs. It’s a respect thing.” -- Patti Arnold
But while the Code is rigidly adhered to, it does have some maverick opponents who feel that following its rules means that you're not playing to win. Base-stealing champ Lou Brock made it clear throughout his career that he would steal bases no matter how big his team's lead was. As Brock's Hall of Fame teammate and admirer Bob Gibson tells it, "He'd say, 'F - - - you. I'm gonna do it.' His attitude was to beat the other team as badly as possibly, and that was my kind of baseball." -- Larry Getlen
The "cessation of aggressive tactics during a blowout" are a major part of the Code.
In 1996, when then-Dodger rookie Roger Cedeno stole second base with the first baseman playing deep and his team ahead 11-2, he was verbally abused by Giant players. But it was one of his own teammates who then approached the Giants bench to alert them that Cedeno had run "without a shred of institutional authority," and that "justice" would be meted out internally. (While it's not reported what form that justice took, Cedeno was later seen crying in the clubhouse.) -- Larry Getlen
Many of these rules are broken all the time, and they can begin to get confusing, as when Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton stole second and third base with his team down nine runs against the Indians earlier this season. Cleveland’s Victor Martinez and Kerry Wood took exception, even though the Rays ended up scoring seven runs before finally losing, 11-7.
“If you’re going to get respect, show respect,” Martinez told reporters after the game. Like the Mafia, it seems, baseball is all about respect and not writing things down.
Later in the series, Wood was brought in to face Upton and threw a pitch behind him (which is often the way these unwritten rules are enforced) before tempers flared and the benches cleared. When Rays Manager Joe Maddon was asked about the book of unwritten rules after the game, he responded: “There’s a lot of pages out of the book that need to be burned.” -- Fred Bierman