Last night, the unwritten rules of baseball came into play during the 5th inning of the game between the White Sox and Astros.
First, let’s go over the sequence of events. With one out in the bottom of the 5th inning, Tim Anderson singled, breaking up Justin Verlander’s no-hitter. Anderson clapped his hands and pointed towards the Sox dugout after the hit, a standard celebration for White Sox hitters. Per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, Verlander stated, “I wasn’t upset with him being excited about getting a hit… he earned it.”
With Anderson on first, one out, and a 3-0 count to Omar Narvaez, Anderson attempted to steal second. He would’ve been safe, but the pitch to Narvaez was ball four anyway, so the steal didn’t count. Anderson celebrated the steal initially, but this was likely before he realized that Narvaez had walked.
Then, on a 1-0 count to the next batter, Anderson attempted to steal third, but Verlander made a great pickoff move. Anderson was safe going back to second, but Narvaez, who had assumed Anderson would be thrown out at third, was also standing at second and was subsequently tagged out.
The video is worth watching, but is also slightly misleading, as it paints Anderson as a villain. According to Rome, Verlander said, “Very thankful that he gave me an out. That’s what I said and he didn’t like that comment but, hey, that’s not my fault, that’s his fault.”
Verlander is correct in saying that Anderson is to blame for the out. Regardless, it is absolutely not Verlander’s job to tell that to Anderson. It can now be assumed that Anderson’s remarks in the video were a response to Verlander’s quip. The Chicago coaching staff is responsible for talking to Anderson about his decision, but Verlander escalated the situation by attempting a sly remark.
Verlander’s comment likely stemmed from frustration with Anderson’s aggressiveness on the basepaths. He often cited the 5-0 score in his post-game interview, perhaps implying that because it was a 5-0 game, Anderson should not have been playing as hard. Keith Law, a polarizing figure when it comes to White Sox fans, offered his opinion on this:
Coming after a rebuilding White Sox team for its aggressive style of play is questionable. Had Verlander simply taken the out and not said anything, the drama would have been avoided, but he felt entitled to mock Anderson. Anderson, who Sox fans know is not one to shy away from confrontation (hello, Marcus Stroman), had every right to reply. Verlander is a terrific pitcher who also does admirable charity work, but perhaps it would be easier to root for him on the mound if he simply threw the ball and stopped finding things to complain about.
Following this series, Anderson and the Sox face Verlander’s Astros again in a four game series in early July.