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These are the unwritten rules of sports

Sports are games with elaborate rules. Most are painstakingly documented, but some do not appear in any official documents. Those are the unwritten rules of sports some followed more steadfastly than others.

Don't "pimp" your homer

In modern day baseball parlance, watching or celebrating a home run at the plate is referred to as "pimping." It's frowned upon by many, including Cubs manager Joe Maddon: "Surely the touchdown celebration, pounding your chest after dunking a basketball, all this stuff that's become part of this generation of athletes, whether you agree with it being right or wrong, does it matter? I would just prefer our guys act like they've done it before and that they're going to do it again." Still, as Bryce Harper & Co. wage their war against old school rules, pimping home runs remains in vogue. The original pimping of a homer is credited to Babe Ruth, who allegedly pointed to the Wrigley Field bleachers before hitting a legendary homer during Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. Reggie Jackson refined the art of admiring homers in the '70s, and nowadays, showboating is commonplace. Celebratory bat flips, a more recent trend, can lead to brouhahas down the road, as happened last month thanks to Jose Bautista's flip during last year's playoff game against Texas. — Paul Sullivan

Don't showboat in the waning seconds of a decided NBA game

Most of the unwritten rules in the NBA centered on individual players: Don't talk trash to Michael Jordan. Don't drive on Bill Russell. Don't leave Stephen Curry open behind the 3-point line. But there's at least one universal truth that's a no-no in any era for any player on any team: Don't showboat in the waning seconds of a decided game with an unnecessary shot, dunk or alley-oop. This isn't to say 24-second shot clock violations are encouraged. Or that hoisting shots in rapid fashion during garbage time for seldom-used players is discouraged; the more, the merrier! It's more to avoid fast-breaking while up 20 or throwing an alley-oop for an unnecessary exclamation point. Teams remember such antics. One game's dazzle can lead to another's flagrant fouls. K.C. Johnson

Don't shoot the puck toward the goal after a whistle

Want to infuriate a goaltender while at the same time inviting his teammates to take a run at you? Go ahead and fire a puck on goal after an official blows his whistle. It's one of the game's biggest no-nos and also one of its most dangerous. When the puck is anywhere near his zone, a goaltender is laser focused. But once the whistle sounds he drops his guard — literally and figuratively. That's why goalies don't take too kindly to a frozen piece of rubber hurtling toward them because the shooter couldn't — or didn't — stop play at the whistle.  Chris Kuc

Don't bunt to try to break up a no-hitter

The old-school thought is that a no-hitter should be broken up when a batter earns his way on base by swinging the bat, not by finessing or surprising the opponent with a bunt in a non-sacrifice situation. Curt Schilling of the Diamondbacks lost a no-hitter in 2001 when the Padres' Ben Davis blooped a bunt single with one out in the eighth, prompting Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly to call Davis' move as "chicken." However, the true purpose is to win the game, and Davis' bunt sparked a rally with a 2-0 deficit. The Diamondbacks needed another run to hold on for a 3-1 win. — Mark Gonzales

Don't touch the conference trophy

There it is, all shiny and inviting, ready to be accepted after three hard-fought postseason series victories. And yet very few captains dare to touch the trophies awarded for capturing conference titles, the Clarence Campbell Trophy in the West and the Prince of Wales in the East. You can pose next to it, but do not touch. The belief is that while winning the conference is nice, the only trophy worth hoisting is the Stanley Cup. There have been exceptions as some captains will tempt fate. The last one to touch the trophy and still have his team win the Cup was the Penguins' Sidney Crosby in 2009. On Thursday night, after beating the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals, Crosby did it again. During the Blackhawks' run to three Cups in six seasons, captain Jonathan Toews kept his distance from the Campbell trophy just in case. Chris Kuc

Don't cross the pitcher's mound

This was thrust into the spotlight in 2010 when Alex Rodriguez ran across the mound on his return trip to first base following a foul ball. Former A's pitcher Dallas Braden was furious Rodriguez crossed "my pitcher's mound," and let him and the media know he found it disrespectful. Rodriguez claimed he wasn't aware of the rule, and others spoke out afterward that they didn't know about it either. But it also seems to be common sense to stay on the grass and avoid running too close to the pitcher when making the way across the field. Colleen Kane

Accept defeat

Football's few unwritten rules center on player safety as part of mutual respect among players for the risks involved. Besides basic taboos of targeting an opponent's head or knees, especially if that player is defenseless, one unwritten rule stands out. When a team has victory in hand and kneels down to run out the clock, it's acceptable for the losing team to ease up and accept defeat. In 2013, the Buccaneers repeatedly violated this unwritten rule under coach Greg Schiano. When opponents would kneel down to end the game, he had his players charge and dive at offensive linemen in an attempt to force a fumble. Technically, it was legal. But the approach rankled many. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and then-Giants coach Tom Coughlin were angry with Schiano during separate postgame handshakes, with Coughlin publicly dressing Schiano down. Even some of Schiano's players, including defensive lineman Michael Bennett, publicly questioned the tactic. Schiano, who was in his second season with the Bucs after 11 years coaching Rutgers, defended his strategy, saying: "I don't know if that's not something that's done in the National Football League. What I do with our football team is that we fight until they tell us, 'game over.' ... We're not going to quit." Schiano was fired after the season with a 11-21 record over his two campaigns. Rich Campbell

Don't steal with big lead

The feeling is that there's no need for a winning team to add runs late in a game with a comfortable margin. An element of sportsmanship is involved by not trying to pour it at the expense of a trailing team with few outs left. But the Red Sox took exception in 2014 when Yunel Escobar of the Rays stole third base with a five-run lead in the eighth inning, causing a bench-clearing spat. — Mark Gonzales

Don't talk to another player's golf ball

The language of golf includes some odd sayings: "Hit a house!" "Get legs!" "Bite!" Or for you Hawk Harrelson fans, "stay fair!" And: "Stretch!" It seems common courtesy, not to mention good karma, to holler niceties at a friend's Titleist when it's in the air or tracking the cup. But for the men (and women, I assume) who make a living on the links, an unwritten rule is this: Never talk to another player's golf ball. Even caddies keep quiet. Rick Reilly's book "Who's Your Caddy?" featured this gem from Tommy Aaron. The 1973 Masters champion wanted Reilly, his temporary caddie, to shush. So he told him: "Get your mouth off my ball." Jordan Spieth loves talking to his golf ball, screaming things like: "Down, ball!" and "Go hard!" and "(Get) lucky!" But only he talks to it. Teddy Greenstein

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