FanDuel - WFBC

July 20, 2014

Pitcher Freaks Out Because of Bunt in 2-Run Game: Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis has added a new entry to baseball's unwritten rulebook: Don't bunt to reach base with two outs and nobody on when your team is leading by two runs in the fifth inning. Colby Rasmus did that in a 4-1 Toronto Blue Jays victory Saturday. "I don't think that's the way the game should be played," said Lewis, who yelled at Rasmus after the play. "I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you're up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average."

posted by rcade to baseball at 08:05 AM - 13 comments

There's a lot of noise around what's appropriate given the score and situation and unwritten rules and stuff like that (much of which is legit — a two-run lead? come on!)

But I think it comes down to this: a defensive shift is an extra effort to get you out, so you're absolutely within your rights to make an extra effort to get on base.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:02 AM on July 20

The shift is designed ONLY to thwart singles. Rasmus countered by hitting a single in a different way because of the defensive shift.

Someone should make sure Lewis gets his diaper changed before he talks to the media next time.

posted by grum@work at 11:10 AM on July 20

The first comment under the article rcade posted says it all: "Colby Lewis' ERA disrespects the game of baseball more than any bunt single ever could."

posted by MeatSaber at 11:11 AM on July 20

I just... I've got nothing. Did Lewis also complain when the Blue Jays scored their first two runs?

posted by bender at 07:33 PM on July 20

Is it just me, or is there a weird spike in "unwritten rules" complaints over the next couple of seasons? Or are we just hearing about them more?

posted by Etrigan at 09:00 PM on July 20

Over the next couple of seasons? I... honestly don't know if there is or not. How... how did you know that?!?

Seriously, though, when someone says "unwritten rules", whatever follows is just hot air. And as noted by DrJohnEvans, a shift is a risk that assumes a hitter can't reliably put it in a different location than their trend data suggests- so if you're wrong, then they reach first. Plus, 5th inning of a 2-0 game? Shit, I think bunting in a no-hitter with two outs in the 9th of a 9-0 laugher is totally legit, much less the 5th inning of a 2-0 game!

But the real worry for Texas is that when people start resorting to rules lawyering, it means they've completely beaten themselves already. Which would probably play some part in explaining why Texas has the worst record in the league.

posted by hincandenza at 11:56 PM on July 20

Oops. Last couple of seasons.

posted by Etrigan at 07:02 AM on July 21

This is probably the most baffling use of unwritten rules I've ever seen. Usually there's something you could point to that, if you were feeling really touchy, you could construe as being disrespectful somehow. This one though, there's just nothing there.

I'm starting to think baseball needs unwritten rules just to have something to get worked up about. Baseball doesn't have the physical interaction with the opposing team that the other team sports have so there's less tangible things to get upset about. If you really want to hate another team, out of frustration most likely, and you don't have any hit batters or hard slides, you have to search and grasp for reasons why. Unwritten rules are conveniently not written down so you can always find one obscure enough that someone on the other team is bound to offend it out of ignorance.

posted by tron7 at 03:11 PM on July 21

It seems to me that players don't like to exchange fisticuffs during brawls as much now that so many of them are millionaires. I wonder if that encourages the piddly little bitching about unwritten rules, since players subconsciously resent that they can't beat on each other any more.

Which would probably play some part in explaining why Texas has the worst record in the league.

That's a fine theory, but the Rangers players are on pace to lose 1,715 days to the DL. The players on the field who are beating themselves are mostly players who shouldn't be on the field at all.

posted by rcade at 04:03 PM on July 21

The Rangers currently have 16 players on the DL. They've used 51 different players this season.

In comparison, the AL East leading Orioles have 7 players on the DL. They've used 35 different players this season.

posted by grum@work at 04:18 PM on July 21

Which would probably play some part in explaining why Texas has the worst record in the league.

That's a fine theory, but the Rangers players are on pace to lose 1,715 days to the DL. The players on the field who are beating themselves are mostly players who shouldn't be on the field at all.

And yet, they've likely been the best players on every team they've ever been on up to this point. The idea that they're not quite as good as other MLB-level players and teams is baffling to them, so the other teams must somehow be playing unfairly.

I've seen it before in situations where guys who think they're really good at stuff get smoked by guys who are very good at it -- you get a lot of complaints about showboating and suchlike.

posted by Etrigan at 04:24 PM on July 21

I wonder how much of the rise in Unwritten Rules lawyering is down to defensive shifts. Most of it is probably down to ESPN making a big deal of every pitcher who barks at a hitter now, but some of the "You never do that!" crap might be cases like this. Lewis has no reason to bitch about a bunt in the middle of a game that's not a no-hitter, but he has doubleplus no reason to bitch about a guy hitting .220 dropping a bunt against an extreme shift. If you're going to move your fielders into a shift based on a player's tendencies, you can't get pissed if he changes his habits. Rasmus was just listening to the advice of Wee Willie Keeler.

posted by yerfatma at 10:57 AM on July 22

A 5-run lead in the top of the 9th inning ... maybe. Two up in the fifth ... did someone test Lewis for psychotic drugs after the game?

posted by jjzucal at 11:55 AM on July 22

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