Baseball is a sport of unwritten rules. One team’s pitcher “accidentally” dings another player, and so the opposing team usually takes a shot at a player from the first team when given the chance. Tit for tat. Don’t steal bases when you’re way ahead – it’s too cocky? And don’t steal if you’re way behind – it looks desperate. Bleacher Report has a list of 25 of these if you’re interested in more.
Yesterday in a game against the San Francisco Giants, the Nationals Bryce Harper was plunked. The last times Harper faced that particular pitcher (Hunter Strickland), Harper had hit two home runs off him and probably admired those hits too long (they were great home runs). Of course, this was back in 2014 during the playoffs, and the Giants would go on to win both of those games AND the World Series that year. Harper is likely to be suspended for his actions (charging the mound and starting a brawl), but who knows what will happen to Strickland who instigated this particular outburst.
We all have unwritten rules for ourselves – things that are and are not ok at various times to do, or that we take umbrage at when done by others. A lot of it happens when we’re driving, and so much of the road rage we experience is because we don’t really view other drivers as people – they’re just their car, and not the person inside driving it. Perhaps that person who cut you off didn’t really mean to. Or the person who cut into the exit lane at the last minute didn’t realize that this long backup was indeed for their exit. Other times people get angry for silly things – for proceeding with a zipper merge when a lane ends or a ramp begins. I had someone in a large truck turn on their high beams and honk at me because I merged in what I thought was the correct way that literally everyone else in front of us was doing it. It got me wondering what I had done in their eyes to “deserve” such kind of retaliation/punishment.
Others are more personal – like not writing thank you notes for gifts (which reminds me – I’ve got a few more to get out!). Or returning a phone call or email in a timely manner. A snubbed invitation. Consistently monopolizing conversations to talk about oneself. Perpetual lateness. I know that I personally have had my feelings about friends and family members change because they have done things that bugged me, and so I “retaliated” by not being as friendly or as close as I could have been or was in the past. It’s a very bad habit. But it felt like the right thing to do at the time that I did it
I don’t know – how far is too far? What is the statute of limitations on breaking unwritten (or social) rules? Is plunking a guy 2.5 years later ok if he admired two home runs off of you in your own ball park? How long can you be mad at a friend who showed up massively late for something without an excuse? At what point does retaliation stop being “holding others accountable for their actions” and just become “holding a grudge”?