Fair or foul?
After Wednesday night’s game and the Alex Rodriguez incident, I pored through the MLB rulebook to see if there were any specific rules about a baserunner verbally interfering with a play. The search comes up dry. There’s some rules about runners purposely confusing fielders by running improperly around the bases, and rules about interferring by making contact with a fielder, but there doesn’t seem to be a guideline about a runner shouting in an infielder’s ear to distract him.
Since there isn’t a rule that forbids A-Rod’s antics, does that make it OK? Inside the Jays’ clubhouse, there wasn’t a single player who said they had ever seen — from Little Leagues to the big leagues — a baserunner yell "Mine!" while passing a fielder who was about to make a catch. (Granted, A-Rod swears he said something like "Ha!," but I tend to lean toward what third baseman Howie Clark heard, which was "Mine!").
Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus said it’s not "proper" and he wouldn’t hesitate to pull a teammate aside who pulled such a stunt to inform him of why such an act wasn’t "appropriate." Jays manager John Gibbons went as far as calling A-Rod’s antics "bush league," and said it strayed away from all the reasons the Yankees organization is respected around the league.
So, rulebook or not, the Jays seem to think what Rodriguez did was one of the unwritten rules in the game — you just don’t do it. I tend to agree. Some will say it was a smart play, making Clark think shortstop John McDonald was calling him off on a crucial ninth-inning pop up. It was Clark’s first day with the Jays and he’s still learning the voices of his teammates. So of course he’s going to back off if he hears someone yelling "Mine!"
The main issue that I had was that A-Rod insists he didn’t shout anything until he rounded third base, when on the replay you can clearly see him yell as he’s running directly between Clark and McDonald. For Rodriguez to then stand on third base and smirk while the Jays argued the play with the umpires also didn’t seem appropriate in the least.
Still, what A-Rod did wasn’t illegal. Does that make it right, though? There were certainly other aspects of Wednesday’s game that led to Toronto’s loss, but that play certainly came at an important juncture for the Jays. A two-run deficit entering the ninth is a whole different story than a five-run hole, especially when the heart of the order is due up.
Weigh in on this one Jays fans…