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He put it in the bleachers

Perhaps you’ve heard about the dust up following Fernando Tatis Jr.’s grand slam in the eighth inning with a seven run lead. He missed the “take” sign on a 3 and 0 count, the pitcher grooved one, and Tatis hit it out.

Some people, including both managers, called, “Foul! He violated one of the unwritten rules!”

That would be the one about piling it on a helpless opponent, hitting a man when he is down, grabbing someone’s last French fry. You know -— serious stuff.

However, the commentary, which has been legion, has been pretty much unanimous in favor of killing all unwritten rules. There’s no mercy rule in the major leagues. You have a team down, finish them off. Make them cry in their sports drink. Send them to the showers — permanently. Let the dogs loose and eat their fill.

Let me make a mild objection.

Out here in the bleachers, we have lots of unwritten rules. Some, like Don’t block the view of the youngster in back of you, are just common sense. Others, such as Don’t try to catch a fly ball with a full beverage cup, are taught by experience. The worst are learned by having them happen to you, for example Don’t open that huge golf umbrella when it rains so that all the water falls on the party next door.

There’s a pretty simple theme here because we try to keep things kind of simple out here in the bleachers: “Show some respect for the other guy.” Unless I have been misreading the newspapers, there have been a fair number of protests lately about situations where someone didn’t hear that message. Rules may be unwritten, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Some of the leaders of those protests have been prominent sports figures, and perhaps they have absorbed some of those unwritten rules and would like to see their spirit more widely appreciated. I would like to think so, for some of us have tried to teach that competition needs rules but needs sportsmanship even more.

These days, our bleacher seats may be separated more than we would like, but I believe that we still share that same spirit — even at a correct social distance.


Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a former teacher and coach — and athlete.

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