32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2010
Professional baseball has a long tradition self-governing its participants to abide by some convoluted "Code" of behavior, which for the most part, is understood and followed; no questions asked. However, things can get out of hand rather quickly when opposing teams have a difference of opinion in interpreting that "Code"; that's when the fun begins.
Jason Turbow and Michel Duca have compiled an extensive array of "Code Violations" throughout baseball history, and how everything played out between the warring factions; often, peace never quite gets restored, and fueds fester for many bitter seasons. Usually, when some unwritten protocol viotation pops up, peace is eventually restored; quite often the offending party's own teammates dole out the prescribed corrective action, and the problem never rears its ugly head again.
For any fan of the game who finds this kind of stuff fascinating, this book is filled with enough anecdotes to entertain and amuse, from start to finish. It gives a wonderful perspective on what you'll never find in the boxscores; however, it's as much a part of the game as anything that goes into the official record books; and in many cases, its impact has shortened some careers, while adding a colorful piece of folklore for others.
It's the perfect book to get any fan of the game riled up for a new season. Now you know there's much more to the game than the hits, runs and errors taking place between the lines; there's much, much more.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2010
I have always loved to watch baseball, but I'm going to love it even more this season, thanks to the insight I've gained from reading this colorful, entertaining book. "The Baseball Codes" assembles a dizzying array of stories, from the recent past and from long ago, spelling out all the different unwritten rules of the game.
Like any reviewer, I can't help but share some of the delicious stories from this delectable book:
* Mike Krukow, throwing at brushback specialist Joaquin Andujar in 1984, and missing him -- twice -- only to rush the plate "in a rare instance of the reverse mound-charge." Krukow, incredibly, was not ejected, and considered one more attempt, but feared another miss. He instead struck Andujar out - and Andujar fell apart on the mound, securing a Giants win. "We exposed his macho," Krukow said. "It was great."
* Phil Garner, who emerges as one of my favorite characters, doesn't subscribe to the rule that you don't steal bases with a big lead. While I appreciate the gentlemanly sentiment behind this rule, I also view it as ridiculous - these guys are clearly not gentlemen (witness chapters on beanballs), and they are trying to win games. Why should they stop trying? "I'm not going to go home at night thinking I shut a ballgame down and let you guys back in it to win it," Garner told old-school Sparky Anderson.
* Nolan Ryan - who emerges as a real villain, in my opinion, for his head-hunting tactics - learned the "bow-tie" pitch from Satchel Paige, meaning the art of throwing a fastball right by a player's neck. He's lucky he never killed anybody. He'd throw at guys just because he was mad they bunted on him. He knocked down Lenny Dykstra in the 1986 NLCS, both for bunting and for what he saw as excessive cheering after a hit. (What I loved in that story: Dykstra got up and lined a single. They called him Nails for a reason.)
One of the most critical parts of the Code is that ballplayers never admit to the existence of the Code. (Sort of like Fight Club.) Fortunately for us, however, ballplayers talked to Turbow. And talked. And talked. And each story, in Turbow's relentless reporting, gave way to more stories, until the reader is left feeling like he's got a seat in the corner of a major league clubhouse.
53 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2010
Anyone who was raised with a love of baseball... when the grass was still real... when baseball was still truly America's pastime... and was governed by "THE UNWRITTEN RULES... or CODES" as much if not more than the actual written rules... will love this book. Anyone that was raised when much of the grass was ASTRO Turf... but was lucky enough to have a prior generation's lover of baseball teach them the way a professional really played AND RESPECTED this great game... will love this book. This is a true unveiling of what really went on between the lines... in the clubhouse... and away from the field. The great game of baseball had its own unwritten laws... and thus the players and managers were able to police themselves... when the official rule book didn't provide proper justice. When should one team throw a bean ball at the other to reciprocate for a hit batsman? Who should be hit by a retaliatory pitch... the offending pitcher?... the hitter who watched too long as his ball flew out of the park?... the hitter who "hot-dogged" around the bases?... the guy who slid too hard into a base?... the batter who took too long getting into the batter's box?... the batter who walked in front of the catcher?... the player who was stealing signals? The questions and situations are almost endless... and almost all of these questions are answered in this book. When there's a fight on the field which members of the team should join in?... Should any of the team not engage? What type of cheating is ok? Spitballs?... Scuffed balls?... Pine tar/Vaseline/slippery elm?... Corked bats?
How long should a *PAYBACK-GRUDGE* be carried and still be acted upon. In one such case fireball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson waited for fifteen years AFTER HIS RETIREMENT to hit a batter he felt he owed... in an old-timers game. Now don't get me wrong some of the "RULES" still exist today... but the author makes it clear that due to the enormous money in today's game... agents... and most players becoming more like "visitors" on a team as compared to lifetime veterans in the old days... the full book of rules are no longer enforced.
The author astutely points out major sections of the *CODE* such as when is it okay to steal... when is it okay to plow into the catcher... and of course if a "code/rule" is broken there... the resultant verdict leads to "bean-ball" retaliation rules. Interspersed with rules and historical proof are great quotes from players like Hall of Famer "BIG-D" Don Drysdale who said: "THE PITCHER HAS TO FIND OUT IF THE HITTER IS TIMID, AND IF HE IS TIMID, HE HAS TO REMIND THE HITTER HE'S TIMID." There is the sage wisdom that Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige passed on to future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan that would help shape Ryan's record breaking career: "ONE OF THE BEST PITCHES IS THE BOW-TIE PITCH." "Ryan had no idea what Paige was talking about. A bow-tie pitch, explained the ancient ballplayer, was "WHEN YOU THROW IT RIGHT HERE" - HE THEN MIMED A HORIZONTAL LINE ACROSS HIS ADAM'S APPLE, AS IF SLASHING HIS OWN THROAT- "WHERE THEY WEAR THEIR BOW TIE."
A true fan will be mesmerized when many of the great baseball fights are re-created including the game on August 12, 1984 between the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. SAN DIEGO INFIELDER KURT BEVACQUA LATER CALLED IT "the desert storm of baseball fights." "TOTAL DAMAGE: SIX BRUSH BACK PITCHES, THREE HIT BATTERS, FOUR BENCH-CLEARING INCIDENTS, TWO FULL-ON BRAWLS THAT NEARLY SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL WHEN FANS RUSHED THE FIELD, NINETEEN EJECTIONS, FIVE ARRESTS, AND A NEARLY UNPRECEDENTED CLEARING OF THE BENCHES BY THE UMPIRES." Additionally one player out of uniform on the disabled list was sitting in the broadcasting booth... and he even wound up down on the field fighting.
There are also codes on how a pitcher being removed from the game by the manager should act. There is an absolutely hilarious transcription that covers parts of three pages (90-92) involving Dodger manager Tom Lasorda removing pitcher Doug Rau (Lasorda was miked) that has more four letter words than would be emitted by a drunken sailor who hit his finger with a hammer. The enjoyment derived from this book for any old school baseball fan is limitless. I'll just list the chapter descriptions and you will have an idea of the fun awaiting you here.
1) KNOW WHEN TO STEAL `EM 2) RUNNING INTO THE CATCHER 3) TAG APPROPRIATELY 4) INTIMIDATION 5) ON BEING INTIMIDATED 6) SLIDE INTO BASES PROPERLY 7) DON'T SHOW PLAYERS UP 8) RESPONDING TO RECORDS 9) GAMESMANSHIP 10) MOUND CONFERENCE ETIQUETTE 11) RETALIATION 12) THE WARS 13) HITTERS 14) OFF THE FIELD 15) SIGN STEALING 16) DON'T PEEK 17) SIGN STEALING (STADIUMS) 18) IF YOU'RE NOT CHEATING, YOU'RE NOT TRYING 19) CAUGHT BROWN-HANDED 20) DON'T TALK ABOUT A NO-HITTER IN PROGRESS 21) PROTECT YOURSELF AND EACH OTHER 22) EVERYBODY JOINS A FIGHT 23) THE CLUBHOUSE POLICE.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2010
For a diehard baseball fan, this is a very interesting topic. The author talked to hundreds of baseball insiders for perspectives and stories. Overall, it's a good read and covers the topic well. There are a handful of very intriguing stories and a few that make you laugh out loud. The book suffers in a couple of ways. First, the author doesn't do a good job of telling the reader about the relevant written rules of baseball (as opposed to his topic of the unwritten rules). There were several instances where a short description of what the rulebook says would have been helpful. Second, the book drags as times as the author seems compelled to recount 5 examples of a particular aspect of the game when two or three would do.
If you like baseball a lot, the book will be enjoyable, but not one of the best ever.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2010
I brought the book with me to Camelback Ranch near Phoenix AZ where I watched a number of Dodger spring training games. I live about 7 hours drive away in So. CA. As my 23 yr. old son was driving, I commented to him, and quite sincerely, "I've learned more about the game of baseball in the first 48 pages of this book than I learned in my whole life." May I mention that I'm in my 60's and watched the Dodgers play at the LA Coliseum before they even built Dodger Stadium. I consider[ed] myself a student of the game. I was wrong, not to mention naive. There are three chapters that more or less deal with the cheating that goes on in the game, from corked bats, doctored balls to stealing signs. What's more interesting is the seeming acceptance of anything you can "get away with" in the game. That's why the atmosphere was so conducive to the steroid era. My advice to fellow baseball fans: buy it, borrow it or "steal" it (if you can get away with it).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2010
I really enjoyed this book. It's a quick and informative read, full of insights about the national game and the players engaged in it. I was surprise to find anecdotes about team dissentions (such as an important feud between Troy Percival and Mo Vaughn of the Angels).
No doubt, you'll be aware of MLB's players daily life and routine, how they interact together, what they accept and what they don't. The "Code" is at the core of it all. So important in fact that a guy like Bob Gibson stick to it, even in Old-timers games!
Real fun to read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2012
In baseball, as in life, there are the written rules and the unwritten rules. In major league baseball the unwritten rules are known as "the code."
While I'd heard of "the code," it's even more complicated than I realized.
As a lifelong baseball fan I found it valuable to understand how the game of baseball is actually played by major league players.
Personally I would be annoyed having so many unwritten rules to try to understand, maintain and pass on to the next generation.
Each rookie class was expected to learn, know, and follow the code; no questions asked.
Unfortunately, players don't always remember the code in the midst of the game.
The book is filled with insightful illustrations of the code and how the code is maintained and broken. The code says that code-breaking demands retribution. If, there is no retribution that's also a code-breaking offense.
For example, the written rules have no "mercy" rule, but the code does. The code demands that when your team is ahead by seven runs in the eighth inning, it's a code-breaker to swing at a three balls-no strikes pitch because the pitcher has to throw a good pitch or walk the batter and prolong the game.
The code expects the batter to be merciful. If the batter swings it's considered "rubbing it in."
My favorite example from the book features former Minnesota Twin Torii Hunter made the mistake of swinging on a 3-0 pitch late in the game with a big lead against the Boston Red Sox.
After the game, Twins' manager, Ron Gardenhire, brought Hunter -- like a parent leading a child back to the store from which he stole -- to the RedSox clubhouse, to apologize in person to the team's manager, Terry Francona.
Gardenhire said that he wanted Francona "to know we didn't give a sign for him to swing away, that Torii just made a mistake...I thought that it was good for Torii to explain it to him, so I took him over."
Gardy was also trying to prevent retribution that would likely escalate and lead to unnecessary bad blood between the two teams. Why would there be bad blood? Because there was an offense. The code was broken. Gardy was trying to smooth things over. (See Chapters 7 and 9)
Here is the list of the chapters to give you a greater sense of what the code entails:
1. Know When To Steal `Em
2. Running Into The Catcher
3. Tag Appropriately
5. On Being Intimidated
6. Slide Into Bases Properly
7. Don't Show Players Up
8. Responding To Records
10. Mound Conference Etiquette
12. The Wars
14. Off The Field
15. Sign Stealing
16. Don't Peek
17. Sign Stealing (Stadiums)
18. If You're Not Cheating, You're Not Trying
19. Caught Brown-Handed
20. Don't Talk About A No-Hitter In Progress
21. Protect Yourself And Each Other
22. Everybody Joins A Fight
23. The Clubhouse Police
Conclusion: I enjoyed reading The Baseball Codes, though the language can be raw as the authors explain the multifaceted "code" in great detail. Herein lies one of the flaws of the book, the book drags as times. More than a couple times I skipped ahead. Too often, in my opinion, the authors gave us several examples to illustrate part of the code when the best two or three would have been sufficient.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2012
In The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing and Bench Clearing Brawls - The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime, author Jason Turbow compiles an amazing collection of anecdotes from major league baseball, past and current, which are all the more amazing when one realizes that baseball, like fight club, has its own severe code of silence. From this we are supposed to glean proper baseball etiquette on the field, in the clubhouse and pretty much anywhere else the game's players are recognized as such. But unlike Emily Post's dos and don'ts, those who breach these rules of etiquette can face a pretty harsh sanction in the form of a ninety mile per hour fastball to the cranium and other painful or humiliating treatment. The first part of the book is especially dark and might easily be renamed "the history of the beanball." If you're the kind of sports fan who enjoys vicious hockey fights or career-ending football hits, you'll probably like these accounts of the rules and their punishments for breach, but if you watch the game for pin-point pitch placement, hitters who can find the sweet spot on the baseball, nimble fielding and the like, you will probably tire of this subject matter.
The section on sign-stealing is quite interesting, especially in the author's description of how it's done and how it's detected. But we are told of big league baseball's curious ethic: cheaters are severely punished on the one hand, but on the other hand cheating is expected. In fact honest players are condemned for the lack of a will to win. The moral of the story is "cheat, just don't get caught."
The author also describes the hierarchy inside the clubhouse and how rookies are treated. Many of these stories don't do much to endear you to the game's players. Some are just flakes, while others are cruel and sadistic. But there is some hope on the horizon as the author concludes that the worst of all of this may be in the past.
If you read this book expecting to get a better understanding of the strategy of the game, this is doled out in a very small dose. If you're looking for a behind the scenes look at the secret world of big league ball players, the author has some excellent sources, many excellent stories to tell, some of them exceedingly funny. One subject that the author avoids completely however is steroid use and other performing enhancement drugs. On this topic either the author agreed to avoid it, or the firewalls players put up on this subject are impenetrable.
This book is a terrific source of insight into the game. Unfortunately it's mostly an insight into the darker side of the game, and will leave the reader with a lesser opinion of America's pastime.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2010
When it comes to baseball, I've done it all: played, coached, announced, compiled stats, scouted, ushered, and even sold beer. On most occasions, I figured I've learned just about everything there is to the game.
Until I read "The Baseball Codes".
While not a literary masterpiece, TBC wonderfully held my attention throughout all of its 200+ pages. Every chapter had tidbits, insights, and anecdotes about the game that could only have been relayed by a skilled and enthusiastic author such as Mr. Turbow.
How many fans know that:
1) It's often the pitcher who gives signs, not the catcher.
2) Carlton Fisk had a career-long routine about where he sat in every team plane and bus.
3) One of baseball's brawniest players was scorned for not participating in brawls.
4) Bob Feller used WWII technology to steal signs after he came home from combat in the Pacific.
Mr. Turbow relates each of these and many, many more.
The last few pages of TBC are about Rex "Hurricane" Hudler. A hustling, free-spirited utility man, Hudler's last career at-bat makes for a perfect ending for Mr. Turbow's classic. Regardless of what happened when that last pitch came toward Hudler (I won't reveal it here), he upheld the unwritten rules have made baseball and this book so unique.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The author delivers exactly what he promises...stories that relate to the many unwritten codes of major league baseball. If you're a fan of the game, you'll love this book. At times intense, the stories are also often funny, and they range from the early days of the major leagues all the way to stories from just a year ago. As my title says - this is a light read and you'll fly through it. Completely enjoyable.