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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Should Manfred order Teixeira to bunt against the shift?

The integrity of baseball is at stake.  Suppose this had happened Monday at Yankee Stadium in the home opener:

A Toronto batter hit a ground ball to Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira but rather than step on the bag to record a sure out, Teixeira threw the ball to the right fielder?

Silly, right?  But here's what actually happened:

Monday, April 6, 2015, 1:05 pm, Yankee Stadium III
Attendance: 48,469, Time of Game: 2:59

                1  2  3   4  5  6   7  8  9    R  H  E
                -  -  -   -  -  -   -  -  -    -  -  -
Blue Jays       0  0  5   0  0  0   1  0  0    6  6  0
Yankees         0  0  0   0  0  1   0  0  0    1  3  1
Bottom of the 6th, Yankees Batting, Behind 0-5, Blue Jays' Drew Hutchison facing 2-3-4
b60-50---5,(3-1) RNYYB. GardnerD. Hutchison-4%92%Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF)
b61-50---4,(2-1) ONYYC. BeltranD. Hutchison2%93%Flyball: RF (Deep RF)
b61-51---2,(1-0) ONYYM. TeixeiraD. Hutchison1%94%Lineout: RF (Deep RF)
b61-52---6,(3-2) ONYYB. McCannD. Hutchison1%95%Flyball: CF (CF-RF)
1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB. Blue Jays 5, Yankees 1.
Mark Teixeira at Yankee Stadium
August 5, 2012 by Lawrence Fung via Wikimedia Commons
Toronto played the extreme shift against Mark Teixeira.  You can see the problem.  Batting in the 6th inning with his team down FOUR runs Teixeira refused to take a sure hit by bunting into the undefended area on the third base side of the infield.  Instead Teixeira tried for ... what?  A home run like his teammate Brett Gardner?  Even if successful, that would still leave his team down three runs.  The chances that Teixeira would make an out were far greater if he swung away rather than bunt.

What the heck is the difference between Teixeira throwing the ball to the right fielder and hitting the ball to the right fielder?  In both cases Teixeira is not trying to win the game.  In the fielding example the commissioner of the Major Baseball League (MBL) Rob Manfred would summon Teixeira to the MBL office and demand an explanation.  Manfred should do the same about the batting example.

Manfred, the A-Rod Slayer, caused a stir early this year by suggesting the MBL should consider banning the shift.  If Manfred would consider that, why not consider ordering batters to bunt against the shift?  That actually makes sense and would protect the integrity of the game.

There is a void here.  Clearly the immediate supervisor of Mark Teixeira, Joe Girardi, lacks the fortitude to order Teixeira to bunt against the shift.  From Girardi the chain of command would be:
- Brian Cashman, Yankee general manager
- Randy Levine, Yankee president
- Hal Steinbrenner, Yankee chief executive officer
- Rob Manfre, commissioner of the MBL.

None of the Yankee officials seem either to notice or care that their players take such a cavalier attitude about winning and integrity. The commissioner should and must intervene.

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