With the Red Sox down seven runs with three outs remaining, it was, according to the codes, time to "play soft." With the count 3-0, Hunter knew a fastball strike was coming from a struggling pitcher whose job was just to end the mismatch. Over 162 games, every team is going to get drubbed, so every team favors an ethic that tells when to stop stealing bases, when to not tag at third and try to score on a medium deep fly ball, when not to bunt a runner from first to second.
But, Turbow notes, the codes require judgments conditioned by contingencies. Although the team on top late in a lopsided game does not stop trying to hit, it stops pressing to manufacture runs. But how big a lead is "big enough"? Well, how bad is the leading team's bullpen? Does the losing team score runs in bunches? Where is the game being played? In launching pads such as Wrigley Field and Fenway Park? In the thin air of Denver's Coors Field?