Question of the day: Was it a bush-league move for Evan Longoria to try to bunt for a base hit in the fifth inning of Dallas Braden's perfect game? [Updated]
Four reporters from Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
[Updated at 1:44 p.m.:
Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times
Not at all. It was still relatively early in the game, the Rays were down by four runs, and with Longoria leading off the inning, he was just trying to spark a rally. A home run wasn’t going to help Tampa Bay much in that situation; the Rays needed base-runners.
I’ve seen plenty of middle-of-the-order sluggers try to bunt for hits in similar situations, especially if the third baseman is playing deep. Why should doing it in a no-hitter be any different?
Plus, I’m not a fan of many of baseball’s “unwritten rules.” You hit our star player with a pitch, we have to hit yours. If we think you’re stealing signs -- which is perfectly legal in baseball -- you’re going to get a fastball near the ear flap. Bunt to break up a no-hitter, and you either get hit by a pitch or trashed in the media.
These machismo-driven squabbles usually lead to bean-ball wars, bench-clearing brawls and sometimes injuries, not to mention the obligatory fines and suspensions.
Nobody wants to get no-hit, so I think Longoria’s actions were justified.]
Steve Svekis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Not to go too Herman Edwards on everyone, but you play to win the game.
With his team down 4-0, Longoria couldn’t hit a grand slam in that spot to tie the score, so his priority immediately was simplified: He needed to get on base by any means necessary. If he gets on there, perhaps Braden’s mojo goes out the window and the Rays find a way to do what they normally do: win.
And, really, if bunting was such a sure-fire way to get aboard, everyone would be doing it.
Finally, to be focusing on a perfect game or no-hitter with more than four innings remaining to be played is lunacy.
[Updated at 11:49 a.m.:
Peter Schmuck, the Baltimore Sun
I’m pretty sure if Evan Longoria had bunted for a hit and it had been the only hit in the game, Dallas Braden would have had another tantrum about the “unwritten” rules of baseball, but there would be no basis for it. It is Longoria’s job to get on base in that situation and -- the last time I looked -- bunting is still legal in the American League.
My opinion might have been different if there were two outs in the ninth inning of a four-run game, but the Rays still had a decent chance to win that game, and it wasn’t their job to help the guy on the other team make history.
For some reason, this reminds me of when reliever Gene Garber struck out Pete Rose with a change-up to end Rose’s NL-record 44-game hitting streak. Rose complained afterward that Garber treated the at-bat like it was the last out of a World Series game and should have thrown him a fastball in that situation. Ridiculous. Garber was just doing his job, just like Longoria.]
Photo: Evan Longoria attempts to bunt his way on base in the fifth inning Sunday. Credit: Cary Edmondson / US Presswire