Discussion

How the league broke the code

Updated: August 13, 2009, 5:38 PM ET
By Buster Olney
Bob Watson played 19 seasons in the major leagues and was hit by pitches 48 times. He probably had a pretty good idea of when he was hit on purpose and when he was hit accidentally; the players on the field usually do. He probably had a strong sense of when he was hit according to the unwritten Code of Proper Retaliation, to which most of the players adhere.

They understand that if a player on the rival team is hit intentionally, particularly a star, then somebody in their own ranks probably is going to get drilled. Most players don't have a problem with that so long as the pitch is thrown below the top of the shoulder.

This is why the Texas Rangers' hitters were angrier with Vicente Padilla than with opposing pitchers who hit them. They knew they were being hit because Padilla seemingly lost his composure repeatedly and started hitting batters indiscriminately, and mostly the payback was in accordance with the Code of Proper Retaliation.

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