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RULES

The past few days, we've had a new round of debates about baseball's so-called "unwritten rules.'' They are things that aren't written down anywhere and technically aren't against any rules that are written down, but tradition and sportsmanship suggest you just don't do them. Today we give our take on some of them.

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Bunting to break up a no-hitter

If it's before the seventh inning, no one should have an issue with a hitter trying to bunt while the pitcher has a no-hitter. Too much game is left. After the seventh, it gets dicey. If the score is 1-0 or 2-0, getting on by bunting would bring the winning or tying run to the plate. Who would have a beef with a team being more concerned about winning than helping boost the other guy's resume? Rays manager Joe Maddon, right, said he wouldn't have had a problem with a player bunting in the ninth during the A's Dallas Braden's perfect game on Sunday. But the score was 4-0 then, and at that point, it seems like more than a bunt should be needed to bust up a no-hitter.

Crossing the pitcher's mound

The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, far right, was called out recently by A's pitcher Dallas Braden, near right, for running over the pitcher's mound on his way back to first base from third after a foul ball even though Braden was not on the mound at the time. Is this even an "unwritten rule''? Former Mets star Keith Hernandez told the New York Times, "I don't know if there is an unwritten rule, but I would never do that." Here's a question: If Derek Jeter instead of A-Rod had done this, would there have been an uproar? Then again, we get the feeling Jeter would not have done this.

Stealing signs

One side might argue that stealing a team's signs is cheating. The other side might say that if a team doesn't want its signs stolen, it should do a better job of keeping them secret. The best reason not to steal them is the danger of it. If a team misreads a sign and its hitter thinks a curveball is coming, he's liable to catch a fastball with his face. And if the other team suspects an opponent is stealing signs, a hitter is also liable to catch a fastball with his face.

Stealing a base with your team way ahead

A baserunner doesn't go with a huge lead late in a game. A team trying to score more runs when it's up 10-0 in the eighth inning is just trying to run up the score and embarrass the opponent. The season has too many games, and what goes around, comes around. Right or wrong, the other team might get angry enough to plunk one of the opponent's hitters. Is it worth risking that just to win by 11 runs instead of 10?

Yelling at an opposing player on a popup

A-Rod did this, too. In 2007, as he was passing Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark during a popup, he yelled something at Clark. Thinking the yeller was shortstop John McDonald, Clark backed off, and the ball fell for a hit. That's bush league by A-Rod. Players have their eyes to the sky. They're trying to avoid colliding (and possibly injuring one another) while trying to make a catch. And because so few players are big-enough weasels to do something like this, it's no wonder opponents are easily duped. Plain and simple, this is cheating.

Posing after a home run

Not cool, but so many players do it these days that as long as one doesn't stand at home plate long enough to start getting mail delivered there, it seems to be (sigh) acceptable. But pitchers should be allowed to pose on the mound after every strikeout. Fair is fair.

Agree? Disagree? Are there such things as unwritten baseball rules? If so, which ones are on your list of taboos? Give us your take at blogs.tampabay.com/twocents.

Most miserable sports cities

Forbes.com has come out with its list of the 10 most miserable sports cities. Basically, it took playoff losses/heartbreak, championship droughts and even losing a franchise, shook them up in a bag and dumped them out. Seattle topped the list, followed by Atlanta, Phoenix, Buffalo, San Diego, Cleveland, Washington, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Houston. It's hard to argue against them, but here are my top three at this moment:

1. Cleveland: The whole city might drown itself in Lake Erie if LeBron James, above, puts a "for sale'' sign on his front lawn. Seems like speculation is growing that James, a free agent this summer, will leave the Cavs for New York or Chicago, meaning the Cavs would be headed back to the bottom of the standings. The Browns and Indians are already there.

2. Pittsburgh: My, how things have changed in the Steel City. A year ago, this was the City of Champions, with the Steelers winning the Super Bowl and the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup. But then the Steelers missed the playoffs and Ben Roethlisberger became a nominee for Creep of the Year. Sidney Crosby, above, and the Penguins were stunned in Game 7 of the conference semis at home by eighth seed Montreal on Wednesday night. Well, at least the Pirates … uh, nevermind.

3. Miami: The Marlins went into Thursday night in last place in the National League East. The Dolphins and Panthers missed the playoffs. When your best team (Dwyane Wade, above, and the Heat) gets knocked out of the playoffs in the first round in five games, things are bad.

Three things that popped into my head

1 The NBA playoffs have been a bore to watch, especially compared with the NHL playoffs. As San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto pointed out, the most intriguing story line is how the Cavaliers' postseason will affect LeBron James' future. "The current playoffs have been so stultifyingly dreadful,'' he wrote, "so sparse and uninteresting that people are already looking for 2011 to amuse themselves.''

2 Unless you're from Boston, you can't help but root for the Flyers to beat the Bruins tonight in Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series. Of the major North American sports, only three teams — the 1942 Maple Leafs, the 1975 Islanders and the 2004 Red Sox — have won a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. Who wouldn't want to see such rare history made again?

3 If LeBron James does leave Cleveland after this season, it would seem to me that he wouldn't want to go to Chicago. If you were an NBA player, would you want to go somewhere where you would forever be compared with the greatest player in history?

RULES 05/13/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:05pm]

    

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