The Unwritten Canon, Revealed

Yes, there are a million of them. We're going to limit our look to the five that seem to be the most firmly etched in stone ... well, maybe not etched. Remember, they're still unwritten -- including the one about the on-field cell phone.

"Oh, it's going to happen in baseball," Dunn says. "And the guy who hits the homer will take his phone out of back pocket and tweet it before he reaches home plate. But when that happens, I'm leaving. I'm retiring. I'm done. I'm going home."

The deliberate, demonstrative home run trot has been a part of the game for decades. The great Babe Ruth, who glamorized the home run, sometimes waved his cap to the fans as he circled the bases. But in the past 25 or so years, the admiration has mushroomed completely out of control.

It's unclear when the real histrionics began, but Jeffrey Leonard's " one flap down" tour of the bases nearly 30 years ago is one marking point. Over the past 10 years, the slow trot has been replaced, and/or preceded, by a bat flip and a five-second pause at the plate to celebrate the blast. (Check out this clip, which comes from a minorĀ league game.)

As flamboyant Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips says, "If I really get one, I don't care. I'm watching. I've got to admire something."

The score of the game doesn't seem to matter; nor does the pedigree of the home run hitter. And sometimes, the drive they're admiring from home plate is caught on the warning track.

"It's the culture now. It's a young man's game," Reynolds says. "These kids grow up seeing this stuff on TV, and they want to emulate it. Baseball is a slow game; people want more action. The fans like it; the players don't like it. But more of it is going on now than ever."

Wilson says, "Look, dudes just want to get on TV. So, they pimp it at the plate. It's like the NBA. They don't want just to dunk on you. They want [people] to say, 'He jumped all the way over that guy!' They want to see it on replay the next day. This started with Barry Bonds, because he was better than anyone at hitting homers. He'd stand and fold his arms after a long home run. But I've seen guys pimp it when they are 17 years old. They're still doing it."

"I'm not a big fan of the bat flip," Davis says. "It shows up the pitcher. Sometimes, you have to act like you've been there before. The only time you should bat-flip is on a walk-off."

A lot about the enforcement of this particular unwritten rule, it seems, depends on who has hit the home run.

"If Manny Ramirez hits a home run and does his thing at the plate on the bases, well, he's Manny Ramirez. He can do that," McCarthy says. "But when Ronnie Belliard, who swings just like Manny and does the same thing as Manny after he hits a home run, it's not the same because he's not Manny. I was angry for a week over that one. David Ortiz does the same bat flip after every home run. He carries a Mariachi band around the bases with him every time he hits one. But it's OK because he's Big Papi. To me, it's just so arbitrary."

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones says, "If you have 50 career homers, then don't celebrate like [Robinson] Cano or Big Papi or [Alfonso] Soriano. They have 200 homers and more. It comes down to service time. When you have service time, you have certain liberties."

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