The first few games of the MLB season has been interesting to say at the very least. We’ve seen some great moments already. We’ve seen some great performances by pitchers, hitters, etc. And of course, we’ve seen some controversies.
Look no further than Sunday with the Twins and Orioles with it.
The Twins were throttling Baltimore 7-0 thanks to Minnesota lighting up Kevin Gausman (who hasn’t?) and then Jose Berrios just mowing the O’s down allowing 1 hit over 8 innings. Then rookie Chance Sisco came up with Minnesota in the shift, leaving the whole left side of the infield open, and bunted. Sisco got on, and the Orioles nearly staged a rally off of it, but unable to do so leaving the bases loaded in the 9th.
Of course, the Twins, despite the W, cried foul on Sisco’s move, notably coming from 2nd baseman Brian Dozier:
“When they didn’t hold our runner on, they conceded to the fact they didn’t want us to steal, so we didn’t steal,” Dozier said. “We could have very easily stolen and put up more runs, so therefore in return you don’t bunt. That’s what everybody is missing in this whole thing.”
“We all have our opinions on the shift and whether it’s then OK to do that,” he said. “My personal opinion is I think this is a perfect scenario: They weren’t holding us on, so therefore don’t bunt. That’s where it starts. Other than that, you try to find a way to help your team win.”
Dozier even called out the Orioles players in a manner where he “tried” to show respect for them at the same time.
“I could’ve said something, but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there, with Chris Davis, Adam Jones and those guys,” Dozier told reporters. “I’m sure they’ll address it and move forward.”
Jose Berrios, the pitcher, chimed in.
“I don’t care if he’s bunting. I just know it’s not good for baseball in that situation. That’s it.”
Baltimore’s players aside from Sisco, defended Sisco’s bunt.
“The problem is the unwritten rules are written differently by 30 different teams and applied differently by 30 different teams,” Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph said. “When they’re not jointly seen eye-to-eye, you’re going to have issues. One of my unwritten rules would be, don’t shift a guy in the ninth inning.”
Chris Davis, one of the leaders Dozier talked about said this:
“For whatever reason, it’s been OK and really accepted these last few years to win the game without hurting the other team’s feelings. If it’s acceptable to shift with a seven-run lead in the ninth inning, it’s acceptable to bunt. There are certain things I don’t agree with when you talk about the unwritten rules, but I definitely think that what Chance did was warranted.”
Buck Showalter chimed in too (of course)
“I just wonder where some of the bunting thing is going to end. Are you like not allowed to throw changeups when you are up 6-0? Like where does it stop?”
Sorry for all the excerpts, but I wanted to just get a vibe on both sides.
I lean towards what Caleb Joseph said. If you’re shifting and you think the game is over, then maybe you SHOULDN’T shift. And also, different people have different takes of what the “unwritten rules” of baseball should be. And to me, Minnesota’s argument, notably Dozier’s and Berrios’s statements show they are invalid. If you’re playing a shift and a hitter sees a spot to his advantage, that is on YOU. I heard Dozier saying that well, we could have stolen a base late in the game. Okay. If you really thought that the game wasn’t over, then go for it.
But here’s something a friend of mine pointed out (though I am using a different example): let’s say if the Baltimore Ravens are going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL and you opted to triple-team Antonio Brown so he couldn’t catch the ball and Ben Roethlisberger decided to throw to a wide open JuJu Smith-Schuster for a touchdown, should I hear John Harbaugh scream foul at Roethlisberger for not throwing it to Brown?
Or in the NBA if the Boston Celtics opt to triple-team LeBron James most of the game and he keeps feeding it to an open Kevin Love who in turn scores 40 and beats the Celtics, should Boston cry about how James wasn’t taking any shots?
It is childish.
This also reminds me of 4 years ago when the Rangers and Blue Jays played and Toronto’s Colby Rasmus bunted against the shift during the middle innings off of the Rangers Colby Lewis. The situation was different in the sense of Toronto was up 2-0 and then Lewis screamed at Rasmus for his actions while afterwards commenting saying it wasn’t “right.” And Lewis looked silly in front of everybody for his comments.
To me, if you put the shift on, you are creating “an unwritten rule” that if you leave a spot open for a hitter to hit it, he can take it if he wants. He doesn’t have to hit where you want to hit him. That is not how the game is played. And to quote Herman Edwards: “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!”
“But but but….we were up 7-0 in the 9th!” Dozier or any Twins player might say. To that I say, “I’ve seen teams come back from 7 runs in the 9th inning before.” Heck, I still remember 2001 when the Mariners were up 14-2 over the Indians and lost. So before Dozier, or anybody tells us that Sisco or Colby Rasmus before him violated “unwritten rules,” he may need to 1. Brush up on history. And 2. Know that his team may have violated an “unwritten rule” of shifting on a guy in the 9th inning with a 7-run lead.
To me, Chance Sisco violated NO unwritten rule with what he did. And Minnesota needs to understand that. He did what the Twins actually gave him to do: hit it where they ain’t. The people that need to learn the lesson here isn’t Chance Sisco, but Jose Berrios, Brian Dozier, and any other Twins player that took exception to “the unwritten rule.”
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat