The 2018 major league baseball season is not even a week old and there is already a strong candidate for the dumbest story of the year. With his team trailing 7-0 in the ninth inning on April 1st, Baltimore Orioles’ rookie catcher Chance Sisco laid down a bunt for a single against a shift employed by the Minnesota Twins to take away holes for his left-handed swing. After the game, the Twins made it abundantly clear their belief was that one of baseball’s “unwritten rules” had been broken by this action. This type of thinking is not only absurd, but is out of date and needs to stop.
According to an article on the story by ESPN, Minnesota pitcher Jose Berrios (who ended up winning that game by complete-game shutout) was quoted as saying "I don't care if he's bunting. I just know it's not good for baseball in that situation. That's it.”
Meanwhile, Twins’ second baseman Brian Dozier weighed in. "I could've said something, but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there… I'm sure they'll address it and move forward."
Let’s examine the utter stupidity of suggesting that a player should not be trying simply because his team is behind late in a game.
-While a 7-0 deficit in the ninth inning is an unlikely scenario to come back from, it is far from impossible. As recently as 2016 the Seattle Mariners came back from 10 runs down to beat the San Diego Padres. There are numerous other examples of improbable victories. It’s early in the season, but a win can make a major difference by the end of the year. This is especially true for a team like the Orioles, who operate with a minuscule margin of error because of their existence in the annually strong American League East.
-Why is it a violation of the unwritten rules that Sisco tried to get on base during a late, out of hand game, but the Twins were in the right by shifting their fielders in an effort to get him out more easily? There is always concern in major league sports that teams are putting out maximum effort (see history of gambling, tanking, etc…). If anything, MLB should crack down on such talk that suggests that a player or team should effectively stand down because they happen to be losing by a wider margin.
-This story also comes down to dollars and cents. Players have a relatively defined period of time to make their money. For the small percentage of players who are signed by professional teams and ultimately make the majors, the average length of their career as a big leaguer is just 5.6 years. A player’s ability to get an extra base hit or two; potentially hit a home run serves to pad their stats and by proxy potentially their earnings.
Chance Sisco did nothing wrong by trying to get on base with his team losing by seven runs in the ninth inning. In baseball, the team on offense is trying to score as many runs as possible, while the team pitching and on defense is attempting to stop them by all means possible. It should literally be that simple with no in between, baseball’s unwritten rules be damned.
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