Fernando Tatís Jr. is throwing the (unwritten) rulebook out the window
Fernando Tatís Jr. is at it again.
Tatís has been the talk of baseball for the past 24 hours. After his grand slam on a 3–0 count, even his own manager criticized him for breaking baseball’s social contract against trying hard when the game appears out of reach. The entire baseball world rushed to his defense, though. It was striking to see old-school players like Johnny Bench back up Tatís for his alleged transgression.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler, who on Monday night called Tatís’s decision to swing “a learning opportunity,” had changed his tune by Tuesday afternoon.
“They’re trying to kick our ass, and we’re trying to kick their ass and win,” he said before San Diego’s matinee against the Rangers. “That’s the bottom line. We can’t sit here and worry about people’s feelings.”
Tatís certainly wasn’t worrying about anybody’s feelings when he broke another unwritten rule in Tuesday’s game. With the Padres up by six runs in the fourth, Tatís swiped third base for his MLB-leading sixth steal. (He now leads the majors in runs scored, home runs, RBIs and steals.)
As unwritten rules violations go, this one is a misdemeanor. Stealing when your team has a healthy lead is definitely frowned upon, but less so when it’s only the fourth inning.
The steal was totally badass for a couple of reasons. First of all, the pitcher on the mound at the time was Ian Gibaut, who was suspended three games for throwing behind Manny Machado in retaliation for Tatís slam. (He’s appealing; Rangers manager Chris Woodward served his one-game suspension on Tuesday.) Second, he took off while Gibaut still had the ball. Stealing third is rare. Stealing before the pitch is rare. Stealing third before the pitch is doubly awesome.
I don’t think Tatís was trying to stick it to the Rangers by showing Gibaut up and violating another supposed unwritten rule. I think he just saw an opportunity to take off for third and went for it. Everything he does on the field he does because it’s daring and exciting.
And the Rangers scored four runs in the bottom of the inning, so it was a good idea to try to stretch the lead.
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