Sox Insider

Twins throw behind Mercedes after controversial home run

Sox Insider

This is why baseball's unwritten rules are so stupid.

Yermín Mercedes hit a home run on a 3-0 pitch from a position player in the ninth inning of Monday night's White Sox romp over the Minnesota Twins. And because some people thought he shouldn't have done that, he had to stand in front of baseball's version of a firing squad Tuesday night.

Mercedes had already received a public chiding from his own manager, Tony La Russa spending his pregame media session explaining his displeasure with Mercedes, who the skipper said missed a take sign on the pitch he ended up blasting over the center-field fence. La Russa saw it as a sign of disrespect toward the Twins and the game, in general, and said that there will be a punishment for the rookie.

RELATED: La Russa: Mercedes homer 'big mistake,' 'won't happen again'

Then Mercedes got the physical attack from the Twins, reliever Tyler Duffey whipping a pitch behind his legs in the seventh inning and getting ejected because of it.

Before the game, La Russa said he apologized to the Twins, letting them know he was just as upset about Mercedes' 3-0 swing as they were in an effort to prevent retaliation and the supposed enforcement of baseball's out-of-date on-field etiquette.

"They know that I was really upset with it. It shouldn't have happened," he said. "I hope it's enough."

It wasn't.

 

La Russa's controversial reaction to Mercedes' home run — which was seen by plenty of others as a display of his joyful personality and an entertaining end to a fun battle between two fan-favorite players — could have been viewed as a somewhat over-the-top way to put the issue to bed between the two teams.

Instead, his comments became the biggest story in baseball, and the Twins' retaliation won't do anything but fan the flames of the issue once again burning across the sport.

Whatever you think of La Russa's comments and his attitude toward his own player, Duffey's response is the true villain of the continued existence of the unwritten rules. It's players taking into their own hands the enforcement of perceived slights and doing it in a dangerous fashion.

The punishment almost never fits the supposed crime. Mercedes hit a home run, for crying out loud. He hit a ball far. Throwing a projectile at someone in an effort to hurt or scare them goes way beyond evening the score. It's outrageous. It's dangerous. And it should stop.

There's no excuse for it. These guys are playing a game. Former White Sox manager Rick Renteria said the day Tim Anderson launched the bat flip heard 'round the world, "You want him to not do that? Get him out." The same goes for Mercedes and The Twins. You want Mercedes to not hit a 3-0 homer off a position player? Get him out. Or don't give up 15 runs so you have to pitch a position player in the first place.

La Russa was trying to get out ahead of it, it seemed, levying his unspecified punishment for Mercedes in place of the vigilante justice the Twins might have attempted.

"I don't ever want to give the other team an excuse to take a shot at one of our players," he said. "You say 'unwritten rules,' but they're just common sense."

The Twins didn't care. Or at least Duffey didn't. And there's nothing "common sense" about the way this stuff keeps happening.

Let the kids play. And let the kids play without fear of getting hit.

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