Good morning, baseball fans!
So it seems that some people are still mad at Mauricio Dubón for bunting when the San Francisco Giants had a massive lead over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night. And people seem to also be mad at Gabe Kapler for standing up for his players and encouraging them to play well. Huh.
Let me break this down to see if I understand correctly. People are mad at Dubón for...(/checks notes)...doing his job? Do I have that right? He is employed as a professional baseball player. In order to continue to be employed as a professional baseball player, he has to play well regardless of what the score is, does he not?
A hit is a hit and those add up to form stats like batting average, on base percentage, etc. And those determine player salary, but also their ability to continue to play in a professional capacity. So each at bat matters on an individual level.
But it also matters on a team level too. Not only have we seen that a large lead can sometimes disappear in the span of a few pitches, but it matters on a season scale too. They’ve done away with play-in games to get into the postseason. That’s going to be determined by a number of statistical factors, including run differential.
So for a team with postseason ambitions in a highly competitive division, it most certainly matters. And Kapler knows that. After the game, he said as much, noting that their strategy isn’t just about a single game, but about the series as a whole. About getting deeper into an opposing team’s bullpen. And he acknowledged that teams are likely going to employ this same strategy against them too and that’s fine.
Which is, to put it mildly, a tone shift for the organization. Considering...
(/gestures vaguely at Madison Bumgarner, Hunter Strickland, etc. )
But some folks, even within the Giants’ orbit, aren’t seeing the forest for the trees on this one. In an interview from KNBR’s “Murph & Mac Show,” Will Clark was quoted as saying “As long as there are people like me in the game, someone’s getting hit” if they break the ~u n w r i t t e n r u l e s~ that the Giants did Tuesday night. Ah, violence. How original.
Clark goes on to say this of Kapler’s decision, “He has set the rules out there. Now, he’s going to have to live with it moving forward.” Which seems....fine? Shouldn’t we want teams and the players on them to compete to the best of their ability?
Ultimately, the point is to win games, win series and hopefully accumulate enough of those that it translates into playoff success. You don’t do that by not trying when your team has a lead, just to be polite. Joc Pederson put it as a challenge after the game, saying “If you don’t like it, play better.” Which seems, essentially, to be what Kapler is implying as well.
That sounds like competition, to me. For a sport with so many controversies about organizations intentionally not being competitive, it seems like a little intentional competition is exactly what is needed.
What time do the Giants play today?
The Giants are off today before embarking on an 11-game, 11-day, four-city road trip that will start off against the Cleveland Guardians tomorrow afternoon.