DENVER, CO – Top of the ninth. You are down 1-0. The lead-off hitter gets walked! Next, your backup catcher is at the plate. The pitcher’s spot is on deck which means you are pinch hitting next plate appearance. What do you do next if you are a manager?
If you said, “What is bunt?” then you are correct. If you said let your backup catcher swing you are a Yankees fan.
The Cardinals and Manager Mike Schildt had this scenario happen on Wednesday. Schildt chose to let Knizner swing on 3-1. Knizner grounded into a double play which basically ended the game. This video was similar to my reaction.
Schildt’s call jarred me deep into my soul. It was so fundamentally wrong. I feel like somewhere in each team’s dugout is a nerd with a laptop saying something like, “If we hit away in all fourteen of our expected one run games this year we will win nine of fourteen as opposed to six of fourteen if we bunt each time.” This nerd is ruining baseball. This nerd must be stopped.
The problem with the nerd’s data is that those numbers have nothing to do with this game. In this game I know that Carlos Martinez just had the best outing he has had in twenty four months. In this game Max Sherzer passed Mike Mussina on the All-Time Strikeout List. In this game the ball was hit hard and yet hardly. This game…was a masterpiece.
That is until Knizner swung 3-1.
If he bunts we are nearly guaranteed a storybook ending. A walk off in the 9th, a mysterious lead-off two-run homer that is now possible in the 11th, a legendary up-all-nighter, 18-inning barn burner, were all almost guaranteed possibilities. Instead, I am left to look at my manager as if she’s the woman that I used to love. This game was ruined by analytics.
This game is why Clancy’s A’s and the Randy Johnson’s Mariners won 115+games but never won the World Series. They got their nine of fourteen one run games. Come October they couldn’t win this game.
In this game, Snell is left in while throwing a no hitter. In this game Kershaw hits in the seventh. In this game… they italicize this game. In this game Pedro Martinez tackles an old man. In this game someone hits a home run off Jose Conseco’s head. In this game, Bartolo Colon hits a home run. We must stand up for this game.
Today anything can happen. Today I know we will tie the game to play for the next frame. Today I think our number five starter has his A game. Today our AA call-up is getting a shot. Today has feeling. Today is human. Analytics are not.
So today, once again call your congressman/congresswoman. Let them know you want the bunt back. Bunts and steals are the moral fabric of America.
Tell your congressman you saw THAT GAME.