With his team down 15-zip in the eighth inning last Friday night at Minnesota, Milwaukee Brewers centerfielder Carlos Gomez jerked a three-run homer into the Target Field seats. As he stood at home plate admiring the flight of the ball, he flipped his bat backwards, accidentally hitting Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer.
After the game, Gomez acknowledged his showboating had broken an unwritten rule of the game and said he expected to be thrown at on Saturday. "I'm going to take it like a man because I know I did [something] bad," he told reporters, while apologizing for the incident.
Gomez was spared beanballs on Saturday and Sunday, and Twins players asked about the incident mostly shrugged the whole thing off. But Florida Marlins outfielder Brett Carroll wasn't quite so fortunate Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
With his team leading the White Sox 7-0 in the fourth inning, Carroll was unintentionally hit by a pitch. He then stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch - seen as unnecessarily aggressive in a lopsided game. When Carroll came up in the fifth, he got hit again. Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was unapologetic: "This is baseball, you have to respect."
Many of these rules are compiled in Jason Turbow's thoroughly enjoyable book The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing & Bench-Clearing Brawls, a must-read for jurisprudential baseball fans. Turbow also blogs at thebaseballcodes.com, where he chronicles each week's violations.
Curiously, some actual rule violations don't break unwritten rules. As the book quotes former Brewers manager George Bamberger as saying, "A guy who cheats in a friendly game of cards is a cheater. A pro who throws a spitball to support his family is a competitor."