MLB Week in Review (July 31-August 6)

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In every sport there is usually a thick rulebook that almost nobody has read completely through that govern the game.

There are rules for almost anything and everything that can happen in the course of a game.

It creates the punishments and the basics of the game that everyone must play by in order to keep everything fair.

That thick book of rules is not the end of the rules that govern the game though as there are the unwritten rules of the game that are not necessarily encouraged by the league.

In hockey there are the rules that say that nobody messes with the goalie or the best player, punishment will come at some point for violating these rules.

In football there are unwritten rules about running up scores on teams or headhunting great players.

In baseball the unwritten rules could likely fill an entire second book as the subtleties of the game are vast.

One of those unwritten rules came into full effect this past week when the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays faced off.

It was an important series for the Blue Jays who had just gone out and retooled their team in a way that sent a message to everyone that they were ready to go for the postseason right now.

They added Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins, and David Price all in the span of one week as the deadline approached.

With these new players the Jays had a new energy and went into a series against the best team in the American League looking to prove a point.

The Royals were trying to prove their own point in establishing that they were still the best team in the AL and that a new retooled team was not going to unseat them.

The Royals also had another issue in mind as both teams had faced off earlier in July with the Royals coming out on top and taking two out of the three games.

In that series the Jays had hit a few of the Royals pitchers, likely not on purpose, and in baseball that is where the unwritten rules come in.

For any MLB team when a batter gets hit it is almost a guarantee that one of the opposing batters will get the same.

After losing two of the three games this time around it seemed like the Royals had remembered the batters being hit on Sunday in the series finale.

In his first at bat Josh Donaldson was hit in the arm by Edison Volquez in what was likely pay back for the earlier series.

It was understandable by unwritten rules but then things got really weird. Immediately after Donaldson was hit the home plate umpire issued a warning to both benches, usually something reserved for when a second batter is hit or almost hit.

With the warning in place the Blue Jays clearly could not hit the Royals and the Royals had gotten their revenge and weren’t going to hit anyone

The next time Donaldson came up Volquez seemingly broke the truce put in place by the umpire when he buzzed the all-star high.

Yet no action was taken as the umpire just went about things normally. Ryan Madson eventually came in and Tulowitzki came up to face him only to be hit and given a base.

The pitch was clearly not on purpose but the fact was that the warning was in place and that after buzzing Donaldson the Royals had gotten away with another one.

Then Madson saw Donaldson come up and he took another high pitch inside but again no action was taken.

In the next half of the inning Jays’ young pitcher Aaron Sanchez missed a pitch and just grazed Alcides Escobar and immediately was tossed from the game.

After the game Sanchez received a three-game suspension while nobody on the Royals received any punishment.

The unwritten rules were in place but after the warning it seemed like the Royals and Jays were playing under a different set of rules.

For no Royals pitcher to be tossed despite hitting another batter and buzzing Donaldson twice under the warning, whether on purpose or by accident, seems crazy.

Then when Sanchez misses a pitch he gets thrown out showing that there were almost two sets of rules for each team.

Then for no pitcher on the Royals to be suspended for hitting batters while Sanchez got three games seems a little unfair.

Still it was an education in the unwritten rules and the subtleties of the game of baseball.

No matter what side of the argument you may be on it was a pure example of how the rules in baseball are far from the only rules that players need to learn to play by if they want to be successful.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Dombrowski Out in Detroit
The Detroit Tigers seem to be ready to start a new year as they got rid of one of their top pitchers for some young talent and now have fired their GM as Dave Dombrowski has been let go by the Tigers to pursue other opportunities

Minor League Record
Mike Hessman is a name that not many will know as the 37-year-old career minor leaguer has rarely seen the show but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve praise after hitting his 433rd career minor league home run this week breaking an 80-year-old minor league record

Terrible Day in Liberal
Liberal, Kansas was struck by tragedy this week when 9-year-old bat boy Kaiser Carlile was hit in the head with a bat by a player warming up in the on deck circle and passed away later that day in a sad day for all of baseball


Key Series:
New York Mets 3 – 0 Washington Nationals
– In the battle for the National League East the Mets are back as they returned to the lead in the division after sweeping the Nationals who had held the top spot for the last few weeks until falling short against the Mets

Los Angeles Dodgers 3 – 0 Los Angeles Angels
– The Freeway Series was fairly one-sided as the Dodgers continued to be one of the strongest teams in the National League sweeping the Angels who are still trying to hold on to their wild card spot

Toronto Blue Jays 4 – 0 Minnesota Twins
– The Blue Jays retooled at the trade deadline and it has paid off as they swept the Twins in a very important series that pushed the Twins out of the wild card and put the Jays in a wild card spot as they head to New York

Chicago Cubs 1 – 1 Pittsburgh Pirates
– The Cubs and Pirates had a chance to get a leg up on the wild card race but with one game postponed they ended their shortened series even as the Cubs still look for a way into the postseason

Upcoming Series:
San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs [August 6/7/8/9]
– With one game already in the books the Cubs are off to a good start but will need to continue to beat the Giants if they hope to come out of this four game series as one of the two wild cards where they now sit after winning one against the defending champs

Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees [August 7/8/9]
– The Blue Jays are going all in for a postseason run this year but are not happy with the wild card as they stand 4.5 games out of the division leaders the Yankees who have been on a role land are looking to create more space between them and their division rivals

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals [August 11/12/13]
– The gap is not insurmountable as the Pirates end the week 6 games back of the Cardinals as they head into St. Louis trying to close that gap and make a run at the division while trying to extend their lead in the wild card

Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers [August 10/11/12]
– Two teams that were favourites for the World Series face-off in what has become a tight battle as the Dodgers try to keep their lead in the West and the Nationals try to gain their lead back in the East

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