Well. What else is there to say about the Red Sox that has not already been said? They started the year banning beer from the clubhouse to put an end to those chicken and beer stories. Bobby Valentine then began the season publicly questioning one of the team's better players. They were compared to the Titanic. Mutiny was declared. Everyone wanted the manager fired. This all happened before April closed up shop.
The Red Sox never really did get off to that "hot start"—or "start," really, if you want to get technical—they were looking for in April. They just sort of ambled on through the summer before finally cleaning house. Amazingly. The Red Sox just got a mulligan on an entire payroll and all they paid for it was a shitty season. But now, everything is magnified and becomes just another example of the Boston Circus because nothing's better than throwing gas on a fire—especially in a town where they revel in it. So, while I told you about Alfredo Aceves completing the metamorphosis into total sociopath because, hey, that's funny, we declined to discuss Jarrod Saltalamacchia "breaking up a perfect game with a bunt." I declined because it is stupid. Now that I've had some time to think about it, it's still stupid.
The "Salty" bunt happened the very next inning after that botched pop up Aceves broke up and he was lustily booed for it. Pete Abraham said it was "bush" depending on your point of view. Two things, to my mind, take this firmly out of "bush" league: it was the fifth inning and the Athletics had the shift on. Surely we can all agree that the fifth inning is a bit too early to start assuming a perfect game. Yes? Good.
Let's talk about the shift. All bets are off when you start using the shift. The whole purpose of the shift is to put extra players where a hitter is prone to hit the ball in order to maximize the potential of getting an out. Like a blitz in football, however, it's a calculated risk. Instead of an undefended wide receiver, a portion of the field is left vacant. Sometimes you get to the quarterback, and sometimes you get burned. The Athletics got burned. You don't want someone busting up a perfect game? Don't concede a hit by leaving half the field undefended. Pretty simple stuff.
Bunting is so weirdly controversial, too. There are all these "rules": when it's a good time to bunt, when it's a bad time to bunt, when it's unsportsmanlike to bunt; they are all pointless. The only proper time to bunt is when you know you won't make an out. Even if it is in the ninth inning of a perfect game? Even if it is in the ninth inning of a perfect game.
One of a pitcher's greatest assets is "deception," right? You've watched a baseball game and heard someone say that before. A pitcher can be deceptive in his pitching motion, but also in his pitch selection. Guys who are pitchers—as opposed to throwers—keep you guessing and make you swing too soon at a changeup or too late on a fastball. That is the game. No one ever says a pitcher was "cheap" or unsportsmanlike because he fooled a hitter. No one expects a pitcher to stop playing mind games if a guy is batting for the cycle, or has hit three home runs in game. Why can't a hitter fool the pitcher and his teammates? That is exactly what makes a good bunt. It's the only thing that makes a good bunt.
And yet, here we are. Players, media members and fans all get bent out of shape when this happens.
Saltalamacchia added another questionable move. He bunted for a single with the infield shifted with two outs in the fifth for Boston's first baserunner. The Oakland Coliseum crowd, announced at 20,315, showered the catcher with boos and every time his name was announced. Griffin said ''it is what it is'' about the bunt and shook his head when pressed about his thoughts.
"Questionable move." "It is what is." "Shook his head." "Bush." We can and always will talk about the many, questionable moves made by the Red Sox this year, but bunting with four innings left in a game that is currently "perfect" is not in that conversation.