Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com and used with permission.

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com and used with permission.

Seattle Mariner Felix Hernandez almost threw a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers last night.

With one out in the sixth inning, Julio Borbon attempted to bunt his way on, but Hernandez fielded the ball and threw the runner out at first.

“He should know he shouldn’t do that, not in a no-hitter,” Hernandez said. “That shows disrespect.”

What timing.  Yesterday I wrote about actual cheating and how it’s not only allowed but encouraged by some in MLB, and today I get to write about something that ISN’T cheating but bothers many of those in baseball.

As I wrote yesterday, I get that the job of the batter is to get on base any way he can.  Why I don’t get, in this case, is the idea that a batter, playing for the team that is currently losing/being no-hit, should have “respect” for what is going on and NOT try to get a hit.

Were I on the opposing team, the team getting no-hit, I’d be singing “You have a no-hitter going!” from the dugout.  (Not cheating but, admittedly, showing poor sportsmanship, I admit.)

How in the world can you consider TRYING TO GET A HIT being disrespectful?

I will always wonder why Joe Torre didn’t have his Yankees try to bunt all through game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.  On the surface, I get it.  You want a guarantee.  You want a string of solid hits to come together and equal runs and 99% of the time (I made that number up) you aren’t going to get that by bunting.  But they knew Curt Schilling was hobbled and they knew bunting might give them an edge if he was the one who had to come off the mound and field the ball, yet they didn’t do it.  Many point to Joe Torre being too good a sport for something like that, but I don’t agree.  Play by the rules, the real ones not the ones made up in the heads of ball players, fans or the media, and get your damn men on base.  No?

Forgive me while I briefly digress regarding Joe Torre.* I remember a lot of Yankees fans complaining about Torre almost never ordering retaliation for one of his players getting hit.  When I was active on the MLB boards, I remember it made a lot of the Yankee fans genuinely mad that he wouldn’t do it.  Torre’s reluctance to do it had more to do with baseball smarts than being a good sport.  You don’t put a guy on base for free if you can avoid it.  Why give up the base?  See, this move I understand.  I think it’s smart baseball.  And I know in most cases NOT bunting is smart baseball too but I still think Torre could have given it a shot – and I wouldn’t have thought he was disrespecting Schilling by doing so.  Digression over.

Along these same lines, I hate when people (usually the broadcasters and fans) complain about a team “running up the score”.  The team with the huge lead shouldn’t try scoring?  They shouldn’t bunt baserunners over and they shouldn’t steal any bases?  Are you kidding me?  See, I was at this game which will always serve as a reminder to me that you can NEVER score enough runs.  It was 10-0 Boston in the first inning.  The first inning.  It was 12-2 going into the fifth inning.  At the END of the fifth, the score was 14-10 and at the end of the sixth, it was 15-14, Texas.  The final score was 19-17, Boston (and they won it in nine innings.  Nine innings that took four hours to play).  So don’t talk to me about disrespecting the game by just playing it.

As an aside to all of this, by a stroke of generosity, I find myself at Fenway this weekend both tonight and tomorrow.  Thus begins my farewell to Fenway for 2010.  I have a handful of games left to go to at Fenway (including the final game of the regular season) and, as is the case every season, even if the Sox make the playoffs, I know being there in September is bound to make me feel nostalgic for this season and lament that the off-season is quickly approaching.  But I intend to make the best of it.  To have a beer and a dog and take it all in.  I’ll be at Fenway with friends for one of the last times this season.  I plan on being more happy than maudlin…at least for now.

*It has been announced that Joe Torre is stepping down as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of the season, with Don Mattingly taking over next year. I’ve never been the biggest Torre fan but I do find this a little sad. I hope he finally retires and just spends the rest of his life not stressing over baseball. Also, the idea of Don Mattingly as a manager makes me chuckle. Next year should be interesting in the land of the Dodgers.

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