But, he also knows how to break them and treat them like toilet paper.
On Tuesday night, Mets reliever D.J. Carrasco hit Brewers star Ryan Braun — and was immediately ejected — after Rickie Weeks blasted a home run in the seventh inning. Collins, afraid of retaliation, pulled David Wright.
"I got news for you. In this game there are unwritten rules and one of the unwritten rules is 'you hit my guy, I'm hitting your guy,'" Collins told The Associated Press after the loss. "They’re not hitting my guy.
"[Wright] said, 'If somebody should be hit, I want it to be me.' I said 'I'm sorry, it’s not going to be you.'"
I'm sorry too, Terry, because you screwed up.
Baseball's unwritten rules are around for a reason. They're also unwritten so they can't be changed. The rule about baseball's unwritten rules are simple: follow them no matter what. They keep America's pastime balanced and keep players playing the way the game is supposed to be played. Collins even said it himself: "You hit my guy, I hit your guy." Case closed. Even Steven.
Cheeks aren't turned in professional sports, they're drilled with baseballs. In hockey, if you get my skilled center with a dirty hit, we're going to fight — it's nothing personal. Unfair moves are met with fair repercussions, nothing more, nothing less.
"Ryan [Braun] gets hit and I go up there there and get hit, and everything is settled," Wright said after the game when asked how he thought the ordeal should have gone.
But when athletes, coaches and managers don't abide by unwritten rules, problems arise and people get upset. Wright was clearly upset, and rightfully so. He didn't want to come out of the game — and why would he? He's David Wright for a reason — he wants to dig in regardless of the score, scenario or opponent.
"Terry is the manager and I got all the respect in the world for Terry," said Wright. "He's got to make the move that he thinks is best for the team and he obviously did that. Whether I agree with it or disagree with it, I respect him."
Sure, the game was out of reach and Wright has a history of concussions, but no pitcher — especially someone who respects the game like Zack Greinke — would come up high on a guy when retaliating. And no one would intentionally come up high on Wright, concussion history or not.
Collins' substitution should also upset the Brewers, if not the entire MLB. Here's how Milwaukee's dugout should view the situation: The Mets landed a sucker punch on the chin of their superstar and instead of Collins settling it like a professional, he retreats behind locked doors. But that door won't be locked forever and that bush-league move now has a chance to lead to something much worse and more dramatic than a pink welt on Collins' third baseman's derriere.
Wright will face the Brewers many, many times, and you better believe manager Ron Roenicke will remember. After the game, he commented on the matter by simply saying: "I didn’t like it. I don’t understand it."
What's going to happen in the future between these two teams, now that Collins spat on baseball's unwritten rules? Will Milwaukee ignore them, too? As much as I don't like to see stuff like this happen, maybe the Brewers need to take things to the extreme to teach Collins a lesson and remind him just how important unwritten rules are.
Another reason to be upset over Collins' move is what it means to Wright, the leader of his team. Leaders don't retreat when things get rough, they move to the front of the line to take charge. And if that means taking a pitch to the back, so be it. There's no doubt that a Greinke was going to groove a four-seamer into Wright, and that's how Wright wanted it. He plays hard, he plays properly and he understands what needs to be done — when and how. For his manager to take that away from him before even bothering to talk to him about it was borderline disrespectful. Wright's a guy who's worked his tail off to get where he is and if he wants to take one for the team to prove to his guys he's willing to do anything for them, you let him.
"He’s a pro. He said 'Look, I'll take this for the club," explained Collins. "'Not tonight you're not.' I love him like a son. He’s not getting drilled on this watch today,'" Collins said.
It's a good thing baseball's most important rules are "unwritten" because Collins would have held them up and tore them into millions of pieces right in front of everyone.
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