The Unwritten Canon, Revealed

The next day, Gomez apologized for his actions.

This spring, Gomez said, "In the moment, it was OK to do what I did. But after I cooled down, I realized it was not the right thing. It was unprofessional by me. I've been playing this game for seven or eight years. I understand the game. I had my reasons for why I did it. But I am responsible for what I do. If a pitcher strikes you out, he can do whatever he wants to do. It makes some guys mad, but not me. If you win, you can do whatever you want.

"But this is who I am. If I try to be another way, I'm not going to be any good. I respect the game. I play hard. I have no problem with anyone from the Braves. I apologized to the Braves for my actions. I would like to apologize personally to Paul Maholm for my actions. It was my fault. It was embarrassing for me, but it was nothing personal. It was nothing personal with Brian McCann, either. If I ever get a chance to talk to him, I would tell him that. If I was a catcher, I would have done the exact same thing that he did to me."

This spring, McCann said, "I was not upset that he was pimping it around the bases. I just didn't like him yelling at our pitcher. Looking at the moment, yelling at someone like that, in any profession, it is second nature. You're going to do something about it. So I did."

Baker says, "That's the way Gomez has played his entire career. He does dumb things. I've seen him hit a homer, run about 10 feet, stop, then walk, then start to run again, like a crazy person that runs through the streets screaming at himself. It's a case of, 'Here he goes again.' But he was upset that they had hit him. I see his point. Both sides were right there."

And that is McCarthy's point. "That's where the unwritten rules work," he says. "That's what so great about it. We can argue all day. Which guy was right in that spot, Gomez or McCann?"

This April, Gomez was involved in a brawl between the Brewers and Pirates. He hit a deep drive to left center field and flipped his bat at home plate. Then, after realizing the ball would not leave the park, ran hard to first base, and wound up at third with a triple. Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, who was backing up third on the play, told Gomez that he shouldn't flip a bat unless "it's a f---ing home run." Gomez yelled back and both benches emptied, resulting in a fight and multiple suspensions, including a three-gamer for Gomez.

He didn't apologize this year, saying he did "nothing wrong." The Pirates' Travis Snider didn't apologize, either, for going after Gomez.

"I was just protecting a teammate [Cole]," said Snider, who was suspended three games. "That's what you do in that situation. I'd do it again."

Snider got a nasty shiner in the fight courtesy of a punch from the Brewers' Martin Maldonado, who was suspended for eight games for that punch.

But apparently, the unwritten rule about home runs might only apply in this country.

"In Japan,'' says McGehee, who played there last year, "it doesn't have to be a home run. When they hit a ball hard in the first inning, they flip a bat. Over there, they will flip a bat for anything."

Few likely took it to the extreme that Stan Williams did when he kept a hit list in his cap, but many pitchers through baseball's history have been happy to throw at a hitter who deserved it.

"Pedro [Martinez] was notorious for that," Jones says.

Reynolds says, "Oh, Randy [Johnson] would hit you."

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