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April 9, 2012 3:00 am
Pat Venditte made his Triple-A debut Friday. He's one stop from the majors. This matters.
Baseball’s norms are 150 years old. Because of the reverence that comes with age, we don’t challenge them. But by violating certain norms, a player could, in theory, put the game into an indefinite holding pattern. The pitcher could throw to first base forever. There is no rule to prevent it. With a runner on base, a pitcher could walk in circles around the mound, pick at his spikes, fix his hat, step on the rubber, and then repeat the whole thing all without throwing a pitch. A catcher could refuse to put down the sign his pitcher is waiting for, cycling endlessly through a series of pinkies, index and perhaps middle fingers. These things don’t happen, because there is inherent understanding that the game must go on. The players have an obligation to that effect.
However, there are some situations where that social obligation doesn’t yet exist, because nothing has happened to ever create it in the first place. Take, for example, Pat Venditte.