There was a chance for unprecedented greatness Sunday night at Wrigley Field, as White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd no-hit the Cubs into the seventh inning, while Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly took a no-hitter of his own into the ninth.
The unwritten rules, however, were exploited in the eighth inning, when White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham tried to get his team’s first hit . . . with a bunt.
The precedent for this is well established—one does not bunt for his team’s first hit, unless the game’s close enough to merit a baserunner by any means possible.
This game was a pitchers’ duel with a pitchers’-duel score—the Cubs led, 1-0—affording Beckham the leeway to do whatever he could to reach base.
That wasn’t enough to satisfy the Wrigley Field crowd, which booed the play with vigor. The fact that Beckham didn’t even get the bunt down (it went foul), and eventually popped out, didn’t make a lick of difference.
The most interesting take on the situation came from Ozzie Guillen (no surprise), who chose to avoid walking the appropriate line (don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter except in close contests), the hard line (don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter ever) and the apathetic line (bunt whenever you want, under any circumstances).
Instead, he spouted an unwritten rule that he could well have made up on the spot.
“If you bunt in the ninth that’s not professional, but in the eighth . . . but Wrigley Field people, that’s the only thing they can do is boo,” Guillen said in the Peoria Journal Star. “They boo for every freaking thing here. That’s part of the game, but the ninth, that’s kind of a different thing.”
Guillen did have something of a point in that a recent example of such a play—Ben Zobrist breaking up the 2006 no-hit attempt of Seattle pitcher Jarrod Washburn with a sixth-inning bunt—drew condemnation from neither Washburn or his manager, Mike Hargrove, owing to the fact that it came in the game’s middle innings, with a 2-0 score.
There was a guy on the White Sox bench, however, who appeared to be cognizant of the actual Code. Juan Pierre broke up Lilly’s gem with a clean single in the ninth (watch it here), and admitted that he had ruled out bunting as an option.
”I wasn’t going to bunt there, and there was some pressure there because that was the first time I was involved in something that late in a game where a guy has a no-hitter against a team I’m playing for,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
While it’s possible that Pierre was referencing something strategic, there’s a good chance he was simply being cognizant of the Code. (Inquiries have been lodged. Updates as new information becomes available.)
Heck, Pierre might have a better grasp of this than his manager.