Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jake Fox breaks 'unwritten rule,' angers both managers

In yesterday's 14-9 win over the Tigers, Jake Fox hit his 10th home run -- the most in the Grapefruit League. Unfortunately, he got a little greedy late in the game and angered both managers -- the Tigers' Jim Leyland and the O's own Buck Showalter -- with a single swing.

Here's what happened, via Jeff Zrebiec:
The Orioles had runners on second and third and no outs in the eighth inning today when Fox came to the plate against Tigers minor leaguer Chance Ruffin. The most important aspect of this story is the score was 13-3 at the time, and both teams had subbed out most of their regulars. Ruffin started the at-bat with three straight balls, but Fox decided to take a rip at a 3-0 pitch in a clear take situation.

It certainly qualified as a breach of baseball etiquette. Swinging 3-0 in a 10-run game with no outs in the eighth inning with a minor league pitcher on the mound is a decent way to make sure you get a fastball in the ribs in your next at-bat. The average fan may not think it was a big deal but Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Tigers manager Jim Leyland certainly did.

Showalter angrily yanked off his hat, and was seen yelling in the home dugout to anyone in particular. His hat off the whole time, he kept shaking his head and muttering throughout the rest of Fox's at-bat, which resulted in a walk Leyland, meanwhile, yelled at Fox from the top step of the dugout.

When Fox was removed for a pinch runner, Showalter made sure that he was one of the first people to meet him in the dugout and he gave him an earful. The Orioles manager was still fuming about it after the game as it apparently wasn't the first time this spring where Fox ignored a clear take situation.
Fox is presumably going to make the opening day roster because of his fantastic hitting in spring training, so it's a little early to overreact about a few instances in which Fox should have kept the bat on his shoulder. However, Fox is mainly going to be a reserve (barring injury), and if he's irritating his manager with similar antics during the season, he may not be around for very long.

Then again, if he hits like he currently is in spring training when he fills in for Matt Wieters or whomever, I have a feeling that Showalter will overlook an inopportune, mammoth swing here or there.


  1. I'm a Detroit Tiger fan and I am a sports fan. This is a tiresome argument about unwritten rules.
    These are professional players-even those in the minor leagues. They are supposed to perform at their best and put their best effort forward. Whether its hitting a ball, or scoring a basket, or kicking a field goal the professionals should be trying no matter the situation or the score. It comes up when a football team is blowing out another many times in an NFL season too. If Showalter and Leyland are upset, so be it. Next thing they'll tell me is on a ball hit in the gap the runner should stop at first and the runners on 2nd and 3rd should remain. Pathetic argument. A loser relies on the unwritten rules.

  2. Yeah, it's hard to argue that. Showalter and Leyland both seemed legitimately angry, but I'm still not sure it was that big of a deal. That being said, if some of these unwritten rules really do mean a lot to Showalter, I'm sure we'll be hearing about another similar instance at some point during the season.