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The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime [Anglais] [Broché]

Jason Turbow , Michael Duca

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Extrait

Chapter 7

Don’t Show Players Up
 
It was a simple question. From the batter’s box at Candlestick Park, Willie Mays looked at Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford and, pointing toward Mickey Mantle in center field, asked, “What’s that crazy b**tard clapping about?”
 
What that crazy b**tard was clapping about only tangentially concerned Mays, but the Giants superstar didn’t know that at the time. It was the 1961 All-Star Game, and Ford had just struck Mays out, looking, to end the first inning. The question was posed when Ford passed by Mays as the American League defense returned to the dugout—most notably among them Mantle, hopping and applauding every step of the way, as if his team had just won the World Series. There was a good story behind it, but that didn’t much matter in the moment. Willie Mays was being shown up in front of a national baseball audience.
 
Under ordinary circumstances there is no acceptable reason for a player to embarrass one of his colleagues on the field. It’s the concept at the core of the unwritten rules, helping dictate when it is and isn’t appropriate to steal a base, how one should act in the batter’s box after hitting a home run, and what a player should or shouldn’t say to the media. Nobody likes to be shown up, and baseball’s Code identifies the notion in virtually all its permutations. Mantle’s display should never have happened, and Mays knew it.
 
Mantle had been joyous for a number of reasons. There was the strikeout itself, which was impressive because to that point Mays had hit Ford like he was playing slow-pitch softball—6-for-6 lifetime, with two homers, a triple, and an astounding 2.167 slugging percentage, all in All- Star competition. Also, Ford and Mantle had spent the previous night painting the town in San Francisco in their own inimitable way, and Ford, still feeling the effects of overindulgence, was hoping simply to survive the confrontation. Realizing that he had no idea how to approach a Mays at-bat, the left-hander opened with a curveball; Mays responded by pummeling the pitch well over four hundred feet, just foul. Ford, bleary and already half beaten, didn’t see a downside to more of the same, and went back to the curve. This time Mays hit it nearly five hundred feet, but again foul. It became clear to the pitcher that he couldn’t win this battle straight up—so he dipped into his bag of tricks.
 
Though Ford has admitted to doctoring baseballs in later years, at that point in his career he wasn’t well practiced in the art. Still, he was ahead in the count, it was an exhibition game, and Mays was entitled to at least one more pitch. Without much to lose, Ford spat on his throwing hand, then pretended to wipe it off on his shirt. When he released the ball, it slid rotation-free from between his fingers and sailed directly at Mays’s head, before dropping, said Ford, “from his chin to his knees” through the strike zone. Mays could do nothing but gape and wait for umpire Stan Landes to shoot up his right hand and call strike three.
 
To this point in the story, nobody has been shown up at all. Ford may have violated baseball’s actual rules by loading up a spitter, but cheating is fairly well tolerated within the Code. Mays’s reaction to the extreme break of the pitch may have made him look bad, but that was hardly Ford’s fault. But then came Mantle, jumping and clapping like a kid who’d just been handed tickets to the circus. It didn’t much matter that the spectacle was directed not at Mays but at Giants owner Horace Stoneham, who immediately understood the motivation behind Mantle’s antics.
 
Stoneham had gone out of his way to make Mantle and Ford feel at home upon their arrival in town a day earlier, using his connections at the exclusive Olympic Club to arrange a round of golf for the duo, and went so far as to enlist his son Peter as their chauffeur. Because the pair of Yankees had failed to bring golf equipment, their first stop was the pro shop, for shoes, gloves, sweaters, and rental clubs. The total came to four hundred dollars, but the club didn’t accept cash. Instead, they charged everything to Stoneham, intending to pay him back at the ballpark the following day.
 
That night, however, the three met at a party at the chic Mark Hopkins Hotel. Ford attempted to settle his tab on the spot, but Stoneham’s response wasn’t quite what he anticipated: The owner told him to keep his money . . . for the moment. Stoneham then proposed a wager: If Ford retired Mays the first time they faced each other the following afternoon, he owed nothing. Should the center fielder hit safely, however, Ford and Mantle would owe Stoneham eight hundred dollars, double their original debt. Ordinarily, this sort of bet would be weighted heavily in favor of the pitcher, since even the best hitters connect only three times out of ten, but Ford was aware of his track record against Mays. Nonetheless, the lefty loved a challenge even more than he loved a drink, and quickly accepted Stoneham’s terms.
 
Mantle, however, wasn’t so cavalier, telling Ford frankly just how bad a deal it was. “I hated to lose a sucker bet,” he said later, “and this was one of them.”
 
That didn’t keep Ford from sweet-talking him into accepting Stoneham’s terms. In center field the next day, Mantle found himself significantly more concerned about the potential four-hundred-dollar hole in his pocket than he was about the baseball ramifications of the Ford-Mays showdown. So, when the Giants’ star was called out on the decisive spitter, it was all Mantle could do to keep from pirouetting across the field. Said Ford, “Here it was only the end of the first inning in the All-Star Game, and he was going crazy all the way into the dugout.”
 
“It didn’t dawn on me right away how it must have looked to Willie and the crowd,” said Mantle. “It looked as if I was all tickled about Mays striking out because of the big rivalry [over who was the game’s pre-eminent center fielder], and in the dugout when Whitey mentioned my reaction I slapped my forehead and sputtered, ‘Aw, no . . . I didn’t . . . how could I . . . what a dumb thing.’ ”
 
That Mantle got away with it was largely due to the fact that Ford later explained the entire affair to Mays, much to May’s amusement. In this regard, Mantle was luckier than most players, who usually learn of their indiscretions from well-placed fastballs, not from conversation. For example, stepping out of the batter’s box once a pitcher comes set isn’t something that inspires retribution in most pitchers, but it did for Goose Gossage—in a spring-training game, no less. And Randy Johnson drilled a player in a B-squad game for swinging too hard. New York Mets closer Billy Wagner considered hitting a spring-scrimmage opponent from the University of Michigan who had the nerve to bunt on him. (“Play to win against Villanova,” the pitcher said afterward.) Nolan Ryan felt similarly when major-leaguers laid down bunts against him, and Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson were likely to knock down any opponent who dug in. All these pitchers felt justified in meting out justice for infractions that the majority of their colleagues barely noticed.
 
Several code violations, however, are universally abhorred. At or near the top of any pitcher’s peeves is the home-run pimp, a hitter who lingers in the batter’s box as the ball soars over the wall. The first great player to fit this bill was Minnesota’s Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew, by nature a quiet man who happened to take delight throughout the 1960s in watching his big flies leave the yard. “Killebrew was the first one I saw (do it),” said Frank Robinson. “He would stand there and watch them. But heck, he hit the ball so high, he could watch them.” Reggie Jackson, widely credited with bringing the practice to prominence in the 1970s, credits Killebrew with providing inspiration.
 
Jackson, of course, added panache and self-absorption to the act, combined with a thirst for attention that Killebrew never knew. During Jackson’s days with the Yankees, he went so far as to claim the final slot in batting practice because it afforded him the largest audience before which to perform. This became known as “Reggie Time,” and the slugger saw fit to bestow it upon some lucky teammate if he was unable to take that slot on a particular day.
 
Barry Bonds eventually became the torchbearer for home-run pimping, not only watching but twirling in the batter’s box as a matter of follow-through. David Halberstam wrote of Bonds’s mid-career antics for ESPN.com: “The pause at this moment, as we have all come to learn, is very long, plenty of time for the invisible but zen-like moment of appreciation when Barry Bonds psychically high-fives Barry Bonds and reassures him once again that there’s no one quite like him in baseball.”
 
Admiring one’s own longball isn’t all that sets pitchers off. When Phillies rookie Jimmy Rollins flipped his bat after hitting a home run off St. Louis reliever Steve Kline in 2001, the Cardinals pitcher went ballistic, screaming as he followed Rollins around the bases. “I called him every name in the book, tried to get him to fight,” said Kline. The pitcher stopped only upon reaching Philadelphia third baseman Scott Rolen, who was moving into the on-deck circle and alleviated the situation by assuring him that members of the Phillies would take care of it internally.
 
“That’s f**king Little League s**t,” said Kline after the game. “If you’re going to flip the bat, I&rsquo...

Revue de presse

"Delicious . . . Entertaining . . . The Baseball Codes reads like a lab report by a psychologist who has been observing hostile toddlers whack one another with plastic shovels in a sandbox."
—Bruce Weber, The New York Times Book Review

“A frankly incredible book—a history and analysis of baseball’s insular culture of unwritten rules, protocols and superstitions, assembled over the course of ten years . . . I can say without hesitation that this is one of the all-time greats—a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”
—Glenn McDonald, NPR
 
“If baseball players adhere to a series of informal doctrines, then consider Turbow the ultimate code breaker . . . Turbow pulls back the curtain and breaks through the game’s shroud of secrecy to deliver a grand slam of a book.”
—Mike Householder, Associated Press
 
“A remarkably well researched book, filled with intricate details of plays from the past 100 years.”
—Larry Getlen, New York Post
 
“Turbow and Duca have filled a void with this entertaining, revealing survey of the varied, sometimes inscrutable unwritten rules that govern the way baseball is played by the pros.”
Booklist
 
“A highly entertaining read . . . A comprehensive, sometimes hilarious guide to perhaps a misunderstood aspect of our national pastime.”
Publishers Weekly 

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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  87 commentaires
30 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Baseball's Self-Governing Tradition 19 mars 2010
Par Larry Underwood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Professional baseball has a long tradition self-governing its participants to abide by some convoluted "Code" of behavior, which for the most part, is understood and followed; no questions asked. However, things can get out of hand rather quickly when opposing teams have a difference of opinion in interpreting that "Code"; that's when the fun begins.

Jason Turbow and Michel Duca have compiled an extensive array of "Code Violations" throughout baseball history, and how everything played out between the warring factions; often, peace never quite gets restored, and fueds fester for many bitter seasons. Usually, when some unwritten protocol viotation pops up, peace is eventually restored; quite often the offending party's own teammates dole out the prescribed corrective action, and the problem never rears its ugly head again.

For any fan of the game who finds this kind of stuff fascinating, this book is filled with enough anecdotes to entertain and amuse, from start to finish. It gives a wonderful perspective on what you'll never find in the boxscores; however, it's as much a part of the game as anything that goes into the official record books; and in many cases, its impact has shortened some careers, while adding a colorful piece of folklore for others.

It's the perfect book to get any fan of the game riled up for a new season. Now you know there's much more to the game than the hits, runs and errors taking place between the lines; there's much, much more.
30 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great look behind the scenes 30 mars 2010
Par Dan Fost - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I have always loved to watch baseball, but I'm going to love it even more this season, thanks to the insight I've gained from reading this colorful, entertaining book. "The Baseball Codes" assembles a dizzying array of stories, from the recent past and from long ago, spelling out all the different unwritten rules of the game.

Like any reviewer, I can't help but share some of the delicious stories from this delectable book:

* Mike Krukow, throwing at brushback specialist Joaquin Andujar in 1984, and missing him -- twice -- only to rush the plate "in a rare instance of the reverse mound-charge." Krukow, incredibly, was not ejected, and considered one more attempt, but feared another miss. He instead struck Andujar out - and Andujar fell apart on the mound, securing a Giants win. "We exposed his macho," Krukow said. "It was great."

* Phil Garner, who emerges as one of my favorite characters, doesn't subscribe to the rule that you don't steal bases with a big lead. While I appreciate the gentlemanly sentiment behind this rule, I also view it as ridiculous - these guys are clearly not gentlemen (witness chapters on beanballs), and they are trying to win games. Why should they stop trying? "I'm not going to go home at night thinking I shut a ballgame down and let you guys back in it to win it," Garner told old-school Sparky Anderson.

* Nolan Ryan - who emerges as a real villain, in my opinion, for his head-hunting tactics - learned the "bow-tie" pitch from Satchel Paige, meaning the art of throwing a fastball right by a player's neck. He's lucky he never killed anybody. He'd throw at guys just because he was mad they bunted on him. He knocked down Lenny Dykstra in the 1986 NLCS, both for bunting and for what he saw as excessive cheering after a hit. (What I loved in that story: Dykstra got up and lined a single. They called him Nails for a reason.)

One of the most critical parts of the Code is that ballplayers never admit to the existence of the Code. (Sort of like Fight Club.) Fortunately for us, however, ballplayers talked to Turbow. And talked. And talked. And each story, in Turbow's relentless reporting, gave way to more stories, until the reader is left feeling like he's got a seat in the corner of a major league clubhouse.
52 internautes sur 61 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 RICK "SHAQ" GOLDSTEIN SAYS: "NOBODY TOLD ME THEY CHANGED IT TO GIRLS' SOFTBALL BETWEEN THIRD & HOME" 17 mars 2010
Par Rick Shaq Goldstein - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Anyone who was raised with a love of baseball... when the grass was still real... when baseball was still truly America's pastime... and was governed by "THE UNWRITTEN RULES... or CODES" as much if not more than the actual written rules... will love this book. Anyone that was raised when much of the grass was ASTRO Turf... but was lucky enough to have a prior generation's lover of baseball teach them the way a professional really played AND RESPECTED this great game... will love this book. This is a true unveiling of what really went on between the lines... in the clubhouse... and away from the field. The great game of baseball had its own unwritten laws... and thus the players and managers were able to police themselves... when the official rule book didn't provide proper justice. When should one team throw a bean ball at the other to reciprocate for a hit batsman? Who should be hit by a retaliatory pitch... the offending pitcher?... the hitter who watched too long as his ball flew out of the park?... the hitter who "hot-dogged" around the bases?... the guy who slid too hard into a base?... the batter who took too long getting into the batter's box?... the batter who walked in front of the catcher?... the player who was stealing signals? The questions and situations are almost endless... and almost all of these questions are answered in this book. When there's a fight on the field which members of the team should join in?... Should any of the team not engage? What type of cheating is ok? Spitballs?... Scuffed balls?... Pine tar/Vaseline/slippery elm?... Corked bats?

How long should a *PAYBACK-GRUDGE* be carried and still be acted upon. In one such case fireball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson waited for fifteen years AFTER HIS RETIREMENT to hit a batter he felt he owed... in an old-timers game. Now don't get me wrong some of the "RULES" still exist today... but the author makes it clear that due to the enormous money in today's game... agents... and most players becoming more like "visitors" on a team as compared to lifetime veterans in the old days... the full book of rules are no longer enforced.
The author astutely points out major sections of the *CODE* such as when is it okay to steal... when is it okay to plow into the catcher... and of course if a "code/rule" is broken there... the resultant verdict leads to "bean-ball" retaliation rules. Interspersed with rules and historical proof are great quotes from players like Hall of Famer "BIG-D" Don Drysdale who said: "THE PITCHER HAS TO FIND OUT IF THE HITTER IS TIMID, AND IF HE IS TIMID, HE HAS TO REMIND THE HITTER HE'S TIMID." There is the sage wisdom that Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige passed on to future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan that would help shape Ryan's record breaking career: "ONE OF THE BEST PITCHES IS THE BOW-TIE PITCH." "Ryan had no idea what Paige was talking about. A bow-tie pitch, explained the ancient ballplayer, was "WHEN YOU THROW IT RIGHT HERE" - HE THEN MIMED A HORIZONTAL LINE ACROSS HIS ADAM'S APPLE, AS IF SLASHING HIS OWN THROAT- "WHERE THEY WEAR THEIR BOW TIE."

A true fan will be mesmerized when many of the great baseball fights are re-created including the game on August 12, 1984 between the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. SAN DIEGO INFIELDER KURT BEVACQUA LATER CALLED IT "the desert storm of baseball fights." "TOTAL DAMAGE: SIX BRUSH BACK PITCHES, THREE HIT BATTERS, FOUR BENCH-CLEARING INCIDENTS, TWO FULL-ON BRAWLS THAT NEARLY SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL WHEN FANS RUSHED THE FIELD, NINETEEN EJECTIONS, FIVE ARRESTS, AND A NEARLY UNPRECEDENTED CLEARING OF THE BENCHES BY THE UMPIRES." Additionally one player out of uniform on the disabled list was sitting in the broadcasting booth... and he even wound up down on the field fighting.

There are also codes on how a pitcher being removed from the game by the manager should act. There is an absolutely hilarious transcription that covers parts of three pages (90-92) involving Dodger manager Tom Lasorda removing pitcher Doug Rau (Lasorda was miked) that has more four letter words than would be emitted by a drunken sailor who hit his finger with a hammer. The enjoyment derived from this book for any old school baseball fan is limitless. I'll just list the chapter descriptions and you will have an idea of the fun awaiting you here.

1) KNOW WHEN TO STEAL `EM 2) RUNNING INTO THE CATCHER 3) TAG APPROPRIATELY 4) INTIMIDATION 5) ON BEING INTIMIDATED 6) SLIDE INTO BASES PROPERLY 7) DON'T SHOW PLAYERS UP 8) RESPONDING TO RECORDS 9) GAMESMANSHIP 10) MOUND CONFERENCE ETIQUETTE 11) RETALIATION 12) THE WARS 13) HITTERS 14) OFF THE FIELD 15) SIGN STEALING 16) DON'T PEEK 17) SIGN STEALING (STADIUMS) 18) IF YOU'RE NOT CHEATING, YOU'RE NOT TRYING 19) CAUGHT BROWN-HANDED 20) DON'T TALK ABOUT A NO-HITTER IN PROGRESS 21) PROTECT YOURSELF AND EACH OTHER 22) EVERYBODY JOINS A FIGHT 23) THE CLUBHOUSE POLICE.
22 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Great topic, good treatment, some shortcomings 4 mai 2010
Par G. Gottlieb - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
For a diehard baseball fan, this is a very interesting topic. The author talked to hundreds of baseball insiders for perspectives and stories. Overall, it's a good read and covers the topic well. There are a handful of very intriguing stories and a few that make you laugh out loud. The book suffers in a couple of ways. First, the author doesn't do a good job of telling the reader about the relevant written rules of baseball (as opposed to his topic of the unwritten rules). There were several instances where a short description of what the rulebook says would have been helpful. Second, the book drags as times as the author seems compelled to recount 5 examples of a particular aspect of the game when two or three would do.

If you like baseball a lot, the book will be enjoyable, but not one of the best ever.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Amazing Insight of the Game 14 avril 2010
Par Charles Slay - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I brought the book with me to Camelback Ranch near Phoenix AZ where I watched a number of Dodger spring training games. I live about 7 hours drive away in So. CA. As my 23 yr. old son was driving, I commented to him, and quite sincerely, "I've learned more about the game of baseball in the first 48 pages of this book than I learned in my whole life." May I mention that I'm in my 60's and watched the Dodgers play at the LA Coliseum before they even built Dodger Stadium. I consider[ed] myself a student of the game. I was wrong, not to mention naive. There are three chapters that more or less deal with the cheating that goes on in the game, from corked bats, doctored balls to stealing signs. What's more interesting is the seeming acceptance of anything you can "get away with" in the game. That's why the atmosphere was so conducive to the steroid era. My advice to fellow baseball fans: buy it, borrow it or "steal" it (if you can get away with it).
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