FanDuel - WFBC

August 01, 2011

Bad Blood in Epic Verlander/Weaver Pitching Duel: The Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels put on a show Sunday, with Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander taking a no-hitter into the eighth against the Angels' Jered Weaver. Slow home run trots by Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen led to Weaver throwing at Alex Avila's head and getting ejected. Erick Aybar led off the next inning against Verlander by bunting to get a hit -- a violation of one of baseball's unwritten rules.

posted by rcade to baseball at 12:45 PM - 26 comments

As always, the "unwritten rules" of baseball rear their ridiculous head. A guy can't bunt in a close game? Really? The opponents are to sit back while Verlander, in this case, cruises? Bullshit. Field the damn ball and make a play instead of winging it into right field.

As for Weaver, I have always had my doubts about him, mainly for this reason. I just don't think he has the ability to ever dominate the mental/emotional aspect of being one of the game's top pitchers. Maybe I'm transferring some of my feelings about his brother onto him, but I just don't take him seriously yet, and he's having a great year. If you are going to get tossed from a game, then do what you have to do and hit the showers. Don't stand their screaming and carrying on, making a spectacle of yourself.

posted by dyams at 01:06 PM on August 01

As the linked article said, I don't think the "bunting to get a hit" is against any rules but upset old fogies who make up these rules on the spot when things don't go their way. The only two rules are "Do everything you can to win" and "Don't break the actual, written rules".

Bunting to get a hit when you're up 10-2 in the 8th inning is kind of cheap, and will get you dirty looks or more (but I still say it's legit: if the defense isn't expecting a bunt, and you bunt for a hit, then it's a hit and that's a good thing).

Bunting in the 8th inning of a 3-0 deficit- being no-hit- and just trying to get something started is smart baseball... especially since I think there is some reason to believe that a pitcher who just lost a no-hit bit will be a bit off his game for a couple of batters. And hey, who knows? You get on on a cheapie bunt, the pitcher's now distracted, and the next thing you know a run or two has plated and suddenly it's a 3-2 very winnable game and OH MY GOD THAT'S ACTUALLY EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. Because of that inning, the Angels were one bloop single from tying the game in the 9th.

Winning teams don't give away outs.

posted by hincandenza at 01:12 PM on August 01

That's a tight game with playoff implications. You bunt there. I agree that it's smart baseball.

If it's 10-0, different story.

Actually, in some respects, it makes sense to bunt in any no-hitter. If the pitcher is that on, it's an attempt to counteract that dominance. It's just against the spirit of a game that is played 162 times a year.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:30 PM on August 01

Weaver claims he wasn't throwing at the hitter. Laughable.

posted by justgary at 01:36 PM on August 01

How is bunting any worse than that play Verlander pulled the prior at-bat to erase a single with an error? Maybe my timeline is out of order, but if anything in that inning is "bush league" that's the leading candidate in my book.

posted by feloniousmonk at 01:39 PM on August 01

Weaver claims he wasn't throwing at the hitter. Laughable.

He didn't really say that, right?

I assumed the discussion he had with the umpire was:

Weaver: You know I'm going to throw at the next guy, right? Ump: You do, and I'll toss you right away. Weaver: Okay. Just a hint, thought. Stay crouched on the first pitch. Ump: Thanks for the warning.

The Ordonez home run didn't really look like he was posing, as it was more of him wondering if it was even going to stay fair.

Guillen, however, was in full-on taunt mode. I'm surprised the Angels' first baseman didn't just knock Carlos flying when he got to first base.

That way, you get tossed instead of the pitcher, and everyone will know you've got their backs.

Or even better, you stand on the edge of the grass and just hurl nasty words at Guillen as he rounds 1st base. If he stops and runs over to fight you, he's outside the base path and automatically out, nullifying his home run.

posted by grum@work at 02:22 PM on August 01

How is bunting any worse than that play Verlander pulled the prior at-bat to erase a single with an error?

It was the same play. On the bunt, Weaver fielded the ball and made a "bad throw".

posted by grum@work at 02:23 PM on August 01

The error came on the bunt. He definitely would have been out had Verlander not let his own emotions get the best of him. He even admitted as much after the game that he was ticked that Aybar had the nerve to bunt on him.

I like that Leyland said after the game that it (the bunt) was a smart play. Seems like the consensus is that in a game this tight and being no-hit, you do whatever you can withing the rules to get on base. The fact that the Angels had a chance in the 9th to win it only confirms it.

posted by jdefauw at 02:23 PM on August 01

He didn't really say that, right?

That quote was on the MLB iphone version. Can't find it to link to it. But here's the whole quote:

Home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt went to the mound to warn Weaver and both dugouts after Guillen finally circled the bases. Weaver wasted no time showing what he thought of the warning -- or of Guillen showing him up, in his mind. Weaver threw the next pitch at Avila's head and was immediately ejected from the game.

"Whether or not I didn't like something [Guillen] did, I'm not someone to try to hurt somebody," Weaver said, "I tried to throw a fastball in, and it got away from me. I'm not trying to hurt anybody."

posted by justgary at 02:42 PM on August 01

This isn't the first time someone's gotten mad about a bunt in a no-hit situation. In 2001 against the Diamondbacks, San Diego's Ben Davis blooped a bunt for a single killing Curt Schilling's perfect game bid in the 8th inning.

I also find it funny that Detroit is complaining about this now. In 2009, Detroit's Gerald Laird tried bunting against Josh Beckett in the 6th inning to break up a no-no. Laird ultimately failed, but he was hit by a pitch in his next at bat.

I think any arguments against trying to bunt for a hit are bunk. If the game's close, I'm doing whatever I can to help my team win. If I see the opposing defense playing back, I'll drop a bunt down and hope I reach safely - either by hit or error.

posted by cabuki at 03:25 PM on August 01

Weaver looks like a chump for lying about the pitch.

This was an important game for the Angels. They're trying to catch the Rangers and climb into wild-card contention. The unwritten rule ought to factor in an exception for highly important games that are close when the bunt occurs.

posted by rcade at 03:38 PM on August 01

Question: Is it still a perfect game if it would be other than a batter reaching base on an error?

Corrolary: If yes, what if the pitcher made that error?

posted by bender at 03:58 PM on August 01

Weaver claims he wasn't throwing at the hitter. Laughable.

Meh, saying anything else would increase a possible suspension's length. He basically has to say that.

posted by yerfatma at 04:06 PM on August 01

Is it still a perfect game if it would be other than a batter reaching base on an error?

No, it's a no-hitter. No one can reach base in a perfect game.

posted by yerfatma at 04:07 PM on August 01

What's laughable is an unwritten rule that allows a defense to play back because the hitters aren't supposed to bunt. Silliness. At the stage that game was at, a bunt was a very smart play.

posted by dviking at 04:30 PM on August 01

Meh, saying anything else would increase a possible suspension's length. He basically has to say that.

Well, he really doesn't have to say anything at all to the media. I don't expect him to say it was intentional, but claiming it wasn't shouldn't have any effect on his suspension. He should save that line for Bob Watson.

posted by justgary at 05:15 PM on August 01

I have no issues with the bunt, because of the situation. Had the Tigers been up 10-0, then, yes, I'd call it bush league. But it was a close game, so it was just smart baseball.

What isn't smart baseball is the ace of your staff intentionally throwing at a hitter in a close game that he was pitching pretty well in, knowing full well he would get tossed and force his manager to rely on the bullpen earlier than he needed. That kinda garbage doesn't win many games...

posted by MeatSaber at 08:10 PM on August 01

Had the Tigers been up 10-0, then, yes, I'd call it bush league.

Bullshit.

I've never understood why the score should make any damn difference about how teams should play the game.

Here is one reason why you keep playing the damn game.

posted by grum@work at 09:50 PM on August 01

Here is a second reason.

posted by bender at 11:16 PM on August 01

grum and bender, I'm pretty much with you on that. The guy going up there swinging isn't trying to make an out, and neither is the guy bunting. Both are trying to get a hit, and keep their team's chances of winning alive.

9th inning, 2 outs, down 10-0, then maybe bunting is a bit bush league, but never before that.

posted by dviking at 11:27 PM on August 01

Nice- I came back to this thread tonight and the two things I had been thinking of when I originally commented have since been posted: the Curt Schilling perfect game bunt was a) a single, so it's a fair move and b) it was a 2-0 game at the time (and Bob Brenly's overwrought protestations about the move as violating "unwritten rules" was the old fogey I had in mind).

And the Mariners 15-14 loss to the Indians in 2001 I've waxed at great length at in the past: it was to me the game that cost the Mariners the 2001 World Series. In short form: they were up 12 with 9 outs to go, and let the lead slip away and ultimately took the loss; understandably at the time the starters were being pulled by the 6th inning. In retrospect that game would have been their 117th (record setting instead of tying) win, and far more importantly that same Indians team faced them in the first round. No doubt less intimidated by the mighty 2001 Mariners than most with that 15-14 win in the back of their heads, they pushed the Mariners to 5 games, which meant the M's rotation was in disarray going into a series with a well-rested Yankees squad.

I argue that- while you never can tell- if the Mariners won that game the Indians would subconsciously not have the same level of fight, and the series only goes 3 or 4, and as a result the M's go toe-to-toe against the Yankees with the top of their rotation set up and rested. But instead, it was something like the Mariners #4 against the Yankees #1, etc, and next thing you know the Mariners are down in a hole and psychologically beat out of the playoffs. Flap of the butterfly's wings, if you ask me.

I think there is a record of something like 9 runs scored in the 9th to come back and win a game- one of those games was with two outs and no one on when the team came roaring back to put up 9 runs and a W. Astonishing!

It's never truly, truly over until the last out is recorded, and anyone who plays like it is, is disrespecting the game and their opponent. That, to me, is gorgeous; the beauty of baseball is there is no clock, no way of "gaming" the system: you gotta get all the outs, as long as it takes, or you don't get the W, and fate has a way of penalizing those who let up on the clutch.

posted by hincandenza at 11:51 PM on August 01

If he stops and runs over to fight you, he's outside the base path and automatically out, nullifying his home run.

Nope.

"Basepath" only exists as a concept when trying to avoid a fielder with the ball attempting to make a tag. If you want to run out and high five the right fielder on your way around the basepaths after a home run, that would be legal.

I believe, after an ejection, a substitute would be permitted to run out your award (similar to the case where blow out your ACL stepping on a base.)

posted by stevis at 10:15 AM on August 02

I believe, after an ejection, a substitute would be permitted to run out your award (similar to the case where blow out your ACL stepping on a base.)

Something similar happened in a game between Boston and Toronto. Check out the Red Sox 5th inning summary near the bottom.

And something slightly different (but weirder) happened in a game between SF and LA.

posted by grum@work at 11:51 AM on August 02

For that second link, I can't fathom why the umps would rule both players out- the pinch runner only needed to exist if it was a single- the instant replay should have allowed Molina back on the base to continue the homerun play, or at worst that Burris would stay in. I don't know why *both* players would be out... that seems like bad umpiring.

posted by hincandenza at 11:58 AM on August 02

I think Burris is out of the game because they needed to replace him with a catcher (to start the next inning). The story-teller seems to forget that important step. Burris could stay in the game if he wanted to, I'm sure.

posted by grum@work at 01:57 PM on August 02

grum, I think you misunderstood me. I meant all other things being the same, and the score being 10-0 instead of 3-0. If Aybar bunts in the 8th innning of a 10-0 game, where he's facing a guy throwing a no-no, and his pitcher was just thrown out for throwing at a batter, then yeah, it's a little bush...

posted by MeatSaber at 06:56 PM on August 02

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