Now Hustling Violates the #### “Unwritten Rules?” (Groan.)

by Jason Epstein

Big League Stew’s David Brown shares some details on Tuesday night’s incident involving the rather portly Brad Penny of the Tigers and the always-hustling Sean Rodriguez of the Rays.

On Tuesday night, during an at-bat in the seventh inning against noted cable guy/health inspector Brad Penny (notes), Rodriguez flied out to left field, but ran so fast he was nearly at second base by the time outfielder Delmon Young (notes) caught the ball.

Somebody please pop open the Unwritten Rule Book, because Rodriguez’s hustle apparently didn’t sit well with Penny, who glared and yelled at Rodriguez as he walked back to the Rays dugout. Rodriguez yelled back.

The exchange — which Detroit TV missed entirely, but Tampa Bay’s broadcast happened to catch live — seemed pretty mild as baseball yelling goes. But it appeared that Penny thought Rodriguez was showing him up by running hard.

Clearly exasperated, Brown points out why Rodriguez’s actions were justified:

It’s preferable to think that Penny is full of baloney, and that ballplayers should run as hard as they can whenever it’s feasible and advantageous. And you know what? It might have been advantageous for Rodriguez to run hard on that fly ball to shallow left field. There are at least three reasons why:

1. Professional ballplayers should run hard on every play, not only because they make a lot of money, but also because taking as many bases as possible is GOOD. Possible exceptions: injury/illness; pitchers who hit and don’t want to wear themselves out on “routine” plays; to decoy the opposing fielders.

2. Because Tropicana Field, with its translucent roof, unique electrical lighting and annoying catwalks, often plays haphazardly for outfielders. Balls get lost frequently up there.

3. Because Delmon Young was playing left field and, while he does have experience at the Trop, people don’t call him “Elmon” because he’s good on “D.” That ball might have dropped in — you never know.

More here, including Rays manager Joe Maddon’s “insane” response to Penny’s barking.

EDIT: Brown updated his post with this nugget: “Reporters finally tracked down Penny, who said via The Heater on Thursday that he was mad at Rodriguez for ‘screaming and cussing.’ … OK. Even though Penny was screaming (not sure about swearing) at Rodriguez? That screaming was OK? And what about the fact that Jim “Freaking” Leyland is the Tigers manager. He’s probably off somewhere swearing right now.”

Right Field

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