Joe Maddon has never read the St. Louis Cardinals' Cardinal Rule(s) of Baseball, and his team is paying the price for it.
The Cubs manager was angered last weekend when the Cardinals plunked Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo in retaliation for Matt Holliday getting hit by a pitch. Cubs pitcher Dan Haren apologized to Holliday when he drilled him in the helmet, yet the Cardinals still threw at Rizzo.
"I'm really disappointed in what the Cardinals did right there," Maddon said. "Absolutely. We did not hit their guy on purpose at all. ... I never read that particular book that the Cardinals wrote way back in the day. I was a big Branch Rickey fan, but I never read this book that the Cardinals had written regarding how to play baseball."
For shame, Mr. Maddon. The Cardinals' rule book is a great book. An important book. Some would even call it the best book in baseball. You need to read it. But since you're probably pretty busy with the pennant chase and making jokes about season-ending injuries of opposing players, here are just a few selections from the sacred baseball text, Cardinal Rule(s): The Ultimate Book on Baseball That Shall Never Be Questioned.
Chapter 3: Altercations and You-What You Need To Know About Fighting
“Fighting should always be your last choice. Unless you’re a boxer and then it’s just your profession, to which I say to you, knock out that man’s teeth with nobility.” — Dwight Eisenhower’s childhood friend
Fighting is bad but sometimes it is necessary, especially if someone breaks one of the Cardinal Rules. For example, if you feel the other team has embarrassed your pitcher because they were too happy about a long home run, you are allowed to hit them with a 4-seam fastball right between the numbers. If they don’t like it, you are fully encouraged to wave your hand at them and say, “I declare a fight!” If they take you up on this it’s pretty much “fight with your older brother” rules. This means punching to the face is allowed but nothing in the nose. No kicking or kneeing under the belt unless it’s a solid charley horse and spitting is 100% outlawed. We recommend the headlock and upper cut technique, AKA the “I Can’t Believe You Told Mom I Clogged The Toilet.” This move is a real classic in our eyes and 100% acceptable because family really is the most important thing in the world.
Chapter 5: Fist-Pumping With Class
“A man who wears his heart on his sleeve is a man I’d like to know ... but is that a man I can count on?” — 18th century poet
When you make a good play, it’s important to celebrate. But remember, there are two ways to rejoice: The wrong way and The Cardinal Way. Of course, the wrong way usually involves lots of smiling, hooting and hollering and other noises that we consider unacceptable in the noble sport of baseball.
A popular celebration that we endorse is the fist pump. The fist pump is of course a very natural display of joy, but be careful not to overdo it. Squeezing your fist too tightly will lead to a very aggressive pump, which is not very classy. On the other hand, leaving it too loose leads the fist to dangle in a manor that reminds everyone of a limp penis (also not classy). In fact, you could say a limp penis is the furthest thing from classy and penis of any kind is not something those with wholesome Midwestern values should be thinking of at any time. The ideal squeeze on a clenched fist is tight enough to hold a quarter, but loose enough for a #2 pencil to move freely. Also, when keeping score we encourage our coaches and fans to only use a #2 pencil; pens are for showoffs.
Chapter 9: Dressing The Part
“He had a hose so I yelled at him: 'Over there! Point it over there!' But he just stood there like an idiot. Like he had never even seen water before. I guess just because someone has a hose doesn’t mean they’re a firefighter, you know?” — Man whose house recently burned down
Pop Quiz: If you are playing baseball and are dressed like a buffoon, are you really a baseball player? Of course not! A baseball player needs to exude a respect for decorum. For tradition. For the Cardinal Rule. This means tucking in your jersey all the way around! It doesn’t matter if you are overweight and just hit a triple and are now close to death because the oxygen can’t pump through your veins fast enough. Toughen up and tuck it in! There are children watching, for God’s sake.
Also, make sure your hat is on straight. If you dive on the ground trying to catch a ball (even though only showoffs dive) you have 5 seconds to dust yourself off and fix your hat. Any longer and you are encouraging others to dress however they wish and, frankly, that is about as unclassy as polishing your dress shoes with your old lady’s hairbrush.
Finally, it is important to wear a cup. It sends the signal to your future children that you care about them and you are protecting them even before they are born. To make sure everyone is on the same page, we encourage a manager to physically check that his players are all wearing their cups. An open palm pressed directly against their groin is a surefire way to know these guys are ready to go!
• Make sure everyone’s cleats are the same.
• Button jerseys up ALL THE WAY.
• Keep batting gloves tightly in the pocket.
• Put your own comfort above the team.
• Try to put your own “spin” on things. You’ll only drag your family’s good name through the mud by doing so.
• Ignore any of these rules, or you will be (rightly) challenged to a fight.
Chapter 11: Legging Out A Single
“Man made fences to hit balls over. The Lord made legs to beat out infield singles.” — Unknown
At the core of baseball is the age-old tradition of trying to beat out a dribbler down the third-base line. But what happens when you are out almost instantly? For example, you hit a pitch off the end of the bat right back to the pitcher. Should you simply take a few steps and then turn back to the dugout? Yes ... IF YOU WANT TO DISGRACE THE GAME AND YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY!
A play isn’t over until it is over and even when it’s over it’s still not over. So if you hit a ball to the first baseman you should put your head down and run as hard as possible through the bag. You should do this for two reasons.
1. They may make an error.
2. Finishing the play is important because it shows respect to your teammates, to the other team, to the fans and most importantly, to yourself.
How exactly does it show respect? If you don’t know that then you’re already lost.
Chapter 14: Leveling The Playing Field With Cheating
“4 + 4 = 8 but what happens when one of the 4s is on HGH?” — Ancient shaman
Cheating, by definition, is against the rules and therefore we are not in favor of it. However, sometimes you have to bend the official rules in order to make sure the playing field is actually level. For example, if players on other teams are all taking something to improve their muscles then you are allowed to ask your own players to take that very substance. If that person on your team then hits the most home runs in a season and later pleads the Fifth before Congress (so as to not boast of his accomplishments on the public record!), you are actually being successful at leveling the playing field.
The same can be said for stealing signs. Let’s say another team is really solid at stealing signs and they know players tendencies before they even come up to the plate. Well, that doesn’t seem totally fair. So you are then allowed to spy on them by stealing scouting reports and hacking in to any kind of database you can find even if it’s not meant for your consumption. Remember, baseball is about fairness so if someone else is cheating, take some pride and step up your own game.