The first rule of baseball

A lifetime ago, I considered myself something of a baseball player.

The truth is I probably had a modicum of talent. But I loved the game. I would play morning, noon and night. I was a very good fielder, could man any position in the infield, and considered myself a fair hitter.

But what I prided myself on was what players refer to as "knowing the game."

It's also part of the respect the game demands.

Any time I am dealing with kids playing ball, I offer this one piece of advice.

If you're in the field, before every pitch ask yourself this question: If this ball is hit to me, what am I going to do with it. Who's on base? How fast are they? How many outs are there? What's the count? Do I have a force-out somewhere.

If you're on base, ask yourself the same question: What am I going to do in this situation? How many outs? The count?

That's why watching this Phillies team is making me so miserable.

They managed to do it again last night. The classic, come-from-ahead loss.

And of course it featured another incredible bone-headed play from a guy who seems to specialize in them. That would be Odubel Herrera.

He ran through a stop sign from third base coach Juan Samuel on a double by Freddy Galvis with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied. It wasn't even close. Herrera was out by 10 feet. So instead of having runners at second and third with two outs, the Phils were headed to extra innings.

Of course, they managed to lose to the Cardinals, 7-6. Hard to believe that at one point in the game they led, 5-0.

Herrera was pulled from the game in a double-switch.

The loss dropped the Phils to 22-48, 26 games under .500.

After the game he said he was playing "aggressive."

"I wanted to win the game, I put my head down and kept running," Herrera said."

Playing hard is admirable. It's something this Phillies team doesn't too enough.

But you also have to play smart. Herrera has to know the situation, and know that he can't make the last out at the plate.

I know that. A lot of people do.

My question is why doesn't Herrera, and so many other Phillies, and I guess a lot of major leaguers.

I learned it on the sandlot.

Herrera is learning it at Citizens Bank Park, while being paid millions.

What's wrong with this picture?