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Game 5-5: Brewers @ Twins

Carlos Gomez, nosepicking, and what unwritten rules are about.

I think I was last this happy when "Star Trek IV" came out.
I think I was last this happy when "Star Trek IV" came out.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
When: 1:10 PM CST (19:10 GMT)
Weather: Moar Chance Of Storms After 4 PM, No Extra Innings Please
TV: FSN. Radio: Video Killed The Radio Star

Apparently Carlos Gomez has been violating baseball's sancto santorum, the "unwritten rules," a lot. Grant Brisbee has stories about this here & here & here.

Where do unwritten rules come from? In baseball, I guess it happens like this. Bob and Bill hate each other. Bill does something on accident which annoys Bob. Bob, being a turd, says "do that again and I will F you up." Bill, being a poop, does it again. Now it's established; doing this thing is insulting.

Is it arbitrary? Yep. I remember one guy on a city bus who told me I better stop holding onto a standpole with my hand close to his face. I'm not an athlete full of testosterone, so I moved away and shrugged inwardly at the moron.

Is it wrong? Last year, Dick Hayhurst thought so, responding to an article by ESPN's Tim Kurkijan on the unwritten rules; Hayhurst called them "oblivious, contradictory, hypocritical bullshit." Hayhurst's main objections were the danger of injuring someone in retaliation and how the rules aren't applied equally to every player or on every team.

Both of those are solid criticisms. It's ridiculous to intentionally try and injure opponents, while inconsistency in standards is unfair. However both Hayhurst and Brisbee miss part of the point for unwritten rules.

Societal organizations all have unwritten rules. Professions have them, every culture has them. You have them and so do I; you wouldn't pick your nose in public. Apartments have them; loud music and fighting are unacceptable, loud sex is allowed (some neighbors may even regard it as a free bonus.) In Minnesota it would be rude to peer in someone's window. In Manhattan, many high-rise dwellers have binoculars by the window for this purpose (and people who leave the curtains open do so intentionally.)

There are several reasons for unwritten rules & social norms. Sometimes the reasons are to enforce an oppressive power structure (like wearing top hats once upon a time.) Sometimes they are about ensuring respect for others (like apartment rules.) What they all have in common is how unwritten rules affect group attitudes in ways actual laws don't. You may go your whole life without robbing a bank and never even think about it. When you're walking down a busy sidewalk, you have to obsess over that big dry booger you really want to scoop out but won't until nobody's around.

Unwritten laws can make people care more for others in the group; they can also make the group less tolerant of outsiders or anyone too different. Danes have a social code against boasting. The a-hole who shows up at work and brags about their new car or vacation home would be considered insane. Certainly shutting up those jerks is a good thing. Yet Danes will sometimes complain that the code not only shuts up jerks, it stifles individuality (fueling insularity.)

Baseball has always, it seems, balanced group identity with an appreciation of quirkiness. There have been managers and owners galore who enforced strict whims; others well-known for a more relaxed atmosphere. There's going to be that tension in any system between those who prefer order and people who do best with fewer restrictions. (Many like rules on This with leeway on That.) Balance is key.

It's hard not to agree with Brisbee and Hayhurst about the silliness of these rules. (I especially liked Josh Beckett last year throwing a no hitter and talking about it openly in the dugout during that game, breaking a code at least 100 years old.) Yet baseball is a team sport, and we want to see players functioning as a team. Like it or not, unwritten rules are part of creating that bond. Even the stupid ones (well, most of them are stupid, but some are funny-stupid and some dum-dum macho chest-puffing stupid.)

Myself? I want more unwritten rules. All over the place. Here's my favorite (I've been reading about Scandinavia recently): Swedes hate conversations with strangers so much, they not only consider it rude to start small-talking someone you don't know -- they won't walk into an elevator with anybody else. They'd rather take the stairs. This Is The Greatest Thing Ever And America Should Totally Copy It.

So does all this mean I disapprove of Gomez? Hell, no! I love me some Go-Go. Gomez's antics are fun precisely because they're so unusual. Once everyone follows the rebels, it's not rebellious to do so anymore (despite what ads claim, buying consumer goods associated with "being an individual" is not individualism.) There's always a need for unwritten rules, and always a need for rebels to challenge them. That's how unwritten rules change for the better.


Matt Garza starts today, and while Kyle Lohse was the better hitter I preferred Garza way back when. He's just a cool-looking guy. Lohse's goatee looks like "Shaggy" from Scooby-Doo got into goth. Garza's goatee has style. He also got traded to the Rays for Delmon Young, and anybody traded for Delmon was better than Delmon. Garza's having a tough 2015, here's hoping he turns it around on a different day:

Wit Da Twins 4.47 1.60 7.1, 3.7 .806 .343 4.33
2008-2014 3.74 1.23 7.6, 2.9 .687 .282 3.88
2015 5.52 1.53 6.7, 4.2 .796 .293 5.18

The Twins are, uh, opting for "hmm, well" (due to Monday's rainout.) Molitor (who should be called "Mollsy") says he wants J.R. Graham to go 70-75 pitches.

Could Graham pitch his way into the rotation with Nolasco on the DL? Possibly. Could he implode immediately, or do OK for a few innings and go back to the pen? Sure. Could swarms of mutant fire ants devour every Twins pitcher today, leaving nothing but charred bones? It's baseball, anything can happen, although for your convenience I listed these in increasing order of probability.

Lineups. Note Braun back for Milwaukee and Herrmann batting 7th (?) for Minnesota:

username brewer username twins
Scourge Of All Decency, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Jonathan Lucroy, C Shane Robinson, LF
Ryan Braun, RF
Joe Mauer, 1B
Adam Lind, 1B Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Torii Hunter, DH
Gerardo Parra, LF Eddie Rosario, RF
Jean Segura, SS
Trevor May's Catcher, C
Shane Peterson, DH Danny Santana, SS
Luis Sardinas, 2B
Aaron Hicks, CF