In the final game of the Oakland series recently, in the fourth inning, Nick Swisher came up with 2 on and no one out and thought he saw the bunt sign and got ready to do so. After two pitches out of the strike zone, the Oakland Pitching Coach came out to the mound and Swisher took the opportunity to check in with the third base coach who informed him the bunt was not on. Swisher hit a 3 run homerun. There are four issues to discuss here and I will take them on.
1) Why a bunt? Yankees are down one run, early still in game and Nick Swisher is not the prototype bunter but is a extra base hit threat. Why would you want to give up an out for what is potentially only a tying run. I am all in favor of the bunt as tool when the circumstances are right – like later in game or to try and tie a game on the road, but the 4th inning is not the time or place.
2) Why a bunt? It seems recently the Yankees have become more enamored with playing small-ball as if in reaction to all the criticism they were getting for depending on the long ball too much. One writer I read said that they were in trouble because they hit too many home runs. I never noticed Earl Weaver mentioning the bunt but he did say the key to winning baseball games were pitching, fundamentals and the three run homer.
3) Why a bunt? There have been a number of times this year when Yankee batters have bunted in strange situations. The fact that Swisher had the opportunity to check in with the coach confirmed he missed a sign. This got me thinking – did other players miss signs? Was the manager sticking up for them by not letting the cat out of the bag about the missed sign. Are the signs so complicated that they are easy to miss or is getting the sign correctly, another fundamental that baseball is losing over time.
4) Why a bunt? With all the advancements in technology, why couldn’t they use a small, wireless ear bud to relay signs from the manager to the batter or base runners or even fielders for that matter? How silly does it seem to have an assistant coach waving a towel from the dug out steps in an attempt to get the outfielders attention to move him a few feet to one side or another. And don’t give me any of that shit about traditions of the game or human elements. If that was so important games would not be on TV, players would be wearing wool uniforms and the manager would be sporting a straw hat. We got video and indoor batting cages and titanium cups, what is wrong with a wireless communicator?”
5) Finally, gentlemen, you are a power hitting American League East ballclub. Act like it, ok?