Brian Dozier wants to explain himself.
After invoking baseball’s unwritten rules in ridiculous ways on Sunday to defend his disenchantment with the fact that an opponent had the audacity to bunt against the Twins’ shift, he felt some clarity was in order. So he continued to talk.
It all had to do, he said on Monday, with the fact that Baltimore had, an inning earlier, failed to hold Minnesota’s Ryan LeMarre on base after he’d singled in the ninth. The game situation—a 7-0 twins lead—was nearly identical the one that Dozier found so offensive only moments later.
“When they didn’t hold our runner on, they conceded to the fact they didn’t want us to steal, so we didn’t steal,” Dozier said in a Pioneer Press report. “We could have very easily stolen and put up more runs, so therefore in return you don’t bunt. That’s what everybody is missing in this whole thing.”
It’s an interesting point. In Dozier’s reading, the Orioles tacitly approved late-game blowout tactics by not holding LeMarre close to first, thereby giving themselves a defensive advantage by positioning first baseman Chris Davis in the hole rather than tethering him to first base. Adhering to the Code, LeMarre stayed put, and did not attempt to steal.
It was a classic example of straightforward blowout tactics, fanciness stripped out in favor of straight-up baseball designed to push the pace and end things quickly. The point that Dozier seems to have missed is that Minnesota’s shift against Sisco was not that. Positioning three fielders to the right side of second base is anything but straight-up baseball, and if the Twins felt that the game situation was insufficient to dissuade them from doing so, they had no business complaining that the game situation was insufficient to dissuade Sisco from responding.
Bill James, meanwhile, made an equally ludicrous suggestion on the opposite side of the argument:
Ignore for a moment the idea of suspension for the outspoken members of the Twins, because James’ suggestion doesn’t apply here. Sisco wasn’t trying to win the game, he was trying to beat the shift, down seven runs with the bases empty and two outs to go. There’s value in that, even during a blowout. If Sisco wants to leverage the bunt as a means of getting teams to stop shifting on him, a lopsided score should not interfere with an opportunity to do so. It had little to do with winning.
As for James’ idea of MLB implementing thought police, it’s pure fantasy, and he knows it. It’s analogous to the idea of automatically suspending pitchers who throw at batters, which would lead to a number of issues, none bigger than the impossibility of determining intent. Who in baseball would want to be charged with containing that morass? With that in mind, under James’ proposed rule, what kind of comments would be okay for players to make, and who would judge the gray area, and how would a team’s fan base react to a star player being suspended for having thoughts?
In a league where good vibes rule and the commissioner would love nothing more than for every ounce of drama to be contained to the field, this suggestion would blow up in fabulous and unexpected ways. James doesn’t strike me as the type to say sensational things simply to garner attention, but this statement certainly qualifies.
4 thoughts on “Dozier Doubles Down on Blowout Bunt Talk”
I think that Sisco is completely justified doing what he did. He has to send the Twins a message that they won’t be able to shift on him in the future. He’s at a disadvantage by not doing so. Don’t care what inning it is or what the score is. Dozier just doesn’t seem to get it.
You are exactly correct. The Don’t Get Mad If Someone Bunts Against The Shift mentality is as true in a blowout as it is in a tie game. Perhaps Sisco will soon give us the answer to the question, “How many bunt singles does it take for teams to stop shifting against a guy?”
New codes are being written every day! What does the code say about a team that shifts when they’re up by 7 with 1 out to go and STILL not playing straight-up? Bunt.
The shift is defensible at that point, using the same rationale that prevents pitchers from nibbling on the edges at the tail end of a blowout: The Twins were trying to wrap up the game as quickly as possible. Taking issue with somebody trying to exploit that defense, however, was kind of nuts.