Major League Baseball's unwritten rules guys are up in arms and their target is Fernando Tatis Jr., who happens to be the most exciting player in baseball.
The San Diego Padres were crushing the Texas Rangers, 11-3, in the top of the eighth Monday night, when Tatis stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Pitcher Juan Nicasio got behind Tatis 3-0, and proceeded to lay a fastball down the middle. Tatis launched it into the right-center field bleachers for a grand slam. It was his MLB-leading 11th home run of the year.
The Rangers were not pleased.
Texas manager Chris Woodward appeared to bark at the Padres, then Ian Gibaut replaced Nicasio on the mound and proceeded to throw behind Manny Machado. The Rangers were angry Tatis was swinging at a 3-0 pitch when up big.
Woodward was not happy after the game and Padres manager Jayce Tingler (who spent years in the Rangers organization) said it was a learning experience for Tatis. The player himself said he wasn't aware of the rule he had violated.
Immediately opinions were flying about whether Tatis had broken an unwritten rule or not. Numerous former players and pundits took to Twitter to express their opinions. Here's mine: if you don't want Tatis to hit a grand slam off of you, pitch better.
Tatis shouldn't have to give up an at-bat because the Rangers can't get people out. And if he'd hit that grand slam on a 2-0 or 3-1 count, would it have somehow made things better? It's a ridiculous "unwritten rule." If you don't want to be in that situation, be better at baseball. It's as simple as that.
Old-school guys shouldn't be trying to force a 21-year-old superstar to conform to their norms for what baseball should be. Those guys had their day, we're living in the world of guys like Tatis Jr., Bo Bichette, Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna now. The youth movement is strong in baseball and these guys flip bats, admire home runs and swing when they get pitches to hit. And you know what? They're incredibly fun to watch. Baseball needs to entertainment value they provide.
As far as I'm concerned, Tatis can swing whenever the hell he wants. I don't care what the score is and I definitely don't care what the count is. Let the kid play the game he was born to play and let him do it his way.