So I read two books from the last two years about the unwritten rules of baseball.  One was called The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct, the other has a similar title The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime.

Both books were entertaining and offered a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the world of baseball.  It is one of the sports with a code of conduct that is enforced by the players and only occasionally has to be managed by the league officials.

The Code was from time to time rather repetitive about the need for enforcement from the mound and I lost track of the many times the author repeated himself.  It seemed that in about 2/3 of the chapters the same theme was hammered home about respect, standing up for your teammates, and enforcement from the mound.  It got a little tiring.

The layout of the pages and some of the chapters seemed to be a little like a high school text book with little story highlights and boxes set aside for special stories and quotes.  Maybe like it was based on a short attention span reading audience to make up for the less than gripping content of the book.

The Baseball Codes was a better developed book and had better stories.  The stories fit into the narrative in a more organic flowing style that was both very entertaining and informative about the baseball lifestyle and the unwritten rules.

One story that I found hilarious was when a starting pitcher of Team A was going to come out of the game after a few innings and he hit a particular batter from Team B when he was at the plate.  When the relief pitcher for Team A came in, he hit the same batter the next time he was at the plate.  This time the batter charged the mound.  The pitcher from Team B then hit the first batter from Team A at the plate and there was a bench-clearing brawl.  The umpires issued warnings and the conflict was pretty much resolved.

The batter who was targeted was a recent trade to Team B.  In the past season when the batter was playing for Team C he slid in hard against one of Team A’s players.  The batter was aware of his offense and was expecting retaliation from Team A even though he was traded.  The first time he got hit, he knew it was coming, knew it was retaliation, and he was okay with that.  The second time he was hit was a different matter.

The relief pitcher was on a bathroom break when the batter was hit the first time and didn’t know the punishment was already given.  So, in doing his job, the relief pitcher threw at the batter again which then started the problems on the field.

Another interesting aspect of the books is the discussion of pitchers having to protect their players by throwing at batters on the other team.  It is an art form in throwing at a batter while not hitting them or picking the area the batter will be hit.  It is a difficult thing for a pitcher who throws a 90+ mph fastball to hit a batter and run the risk of possibly ending the career of the batter.

Of the two books, The Baseball Codes is a better book and much more entertaining.  You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it either.

Happy Reading.

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