Today’s blog was inspired by Ginny and her mom (thanks, ladies!). Ginny and I frequently text each other during games and comment back and forth – usually stuff like, “Your boy, Brandon, just got a hit,” or “Your boy just made a fantastic play!” or “They need to get it together and score some runs!!” On this occasion, she had been watching a game with her mom, and she texted me because they were confused as to why Gregor Blanco had bunted even though no one was on base. I was so happy that I actually knew the answer to her question, and I thought bunting might make a good topic for a blog. Don’t worry – you’ll get the answer in a second!
The official MLB definition of a bunt is “a batted ball not swung at, but intentionally met with the bat and tapped slowly within the infield.” To bunt, a batter will square off facing the pitcher, hold the bat almost horizontally on either end out over the plate, and slightly tap the ball, causing it to roll slowly toward the pitcher, first base, or third base. You have to keep at least one foot inside the batter’s box when you are bunting.
If you attempt a bunt and do not make contact with the ball, it’s called a strike. The “attempt” is decided by the umpire. He will call a strike if the batter clearly tried to make contact with the ball. If you go into position to bunt, but then you pull back before the ball crosses the plate, it is not a strike unless the ball goes through the strike zone. If you bunt a ball and it goes foul, it’s called a strike, even if you already have two strikes. So you could potentially get out on a foul bunt. This is different than when you swing at a pitch, because you can hit fouls with two strikes on you forever and not be called out. Also, if the hitter has the bat extended out over the plate for a bunt and a pitch hits him, it’s called a strike (not “hit by pitch” where you get a walk because you have moved intentionally into the strike zone).
So when does it make sense to bunt? There are three specific situations where this is a good idea. The first is where the batter sacrifices himself in order to advance one or more runners on base. This is called a sacrifice bunt. It’s obviously only done with no outs or only one out, because the batter assumes the throw will make it to first in time to get him out. The second situation is called a squeeze play or a suicide squeeze. This is done when a runner is on third in order to get him home. Both the batter and the runner are informed that this play is coming through signals. The runner takes off once the pitch is released and the batter lays down the bunt, hopefully far enough away so that the runner can score. This play is extremely risky, and if the batter misses the bunt, the runner will more than likely be tagged out. This recently happened to Buster Posey who took off from 3rd right after the pitcher released the ball, but the batter, Gregor Blanco, somehow didn’t get the signal to bunt. Blanco didn’t make contact, the ball was caught by the catcher, and Buster was caught between 3rd and home and was tagged out. Communication is important on this one! The third scenario is the one that happened in the game that Ginny asked me about. If a player is fast enough, and if the infielders aren’t prepared for it and are playing deep, the batter can bunt toward third base and take off for first hoping to make it there before the ball. Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan, and Melky Cabrera do this quite often and successfully. Speed is a wonderful thing! I’ve noticed the Giants have been using the bunt a lot more in their bag of tricks this season than last because they have much more speed on the team this year.
Now that you are a bunt aficionado, let’s move on to the spit counts. I have two for you today:
– Bochy 8
– Theriot 4
– Pagan 3
– Lincecum 2
– Posey 2
– Scutaro 2
– Romo 2
– Cabrera 1
– Kontos 1
– Belt 1
– Colvin 16
– Rosario 4
– McBride 3
– Herrera 2
– Helton 2
– Umpire 2
– Giants Fan 2
Game Spit Master General = Colvin with 16
Giants Game Spit Master General = Bochy with 8
That’s a total of 57 spits during a 3 hour and 30 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.7 minutes.
A couple of interesting things to note about this spit count. Bruce Bochy is the first ever non-player Giants Game Spit Master General. I hope this spit record does not mean that he has reverted back to chewing tobacco (please, no!). Marco Scutaro recorded his first official spits during this game. Also, Tyler Colvin of the Rockies earned his Game Spit Master General title because he spits into each batting glove right before every pitch. Not just every at bat, but every pitch. This habit accounted for all of his spits. At one point, he even asked the ump for a time out so he could spit into each glove for a second time (guess the first time his spits weren’t wet enough). I think this is our first example of spitting OCD.
– Posey 6
– Belt 4
– Bumgarner 4
– Casilla 2
– H. Sanchez 2
– Pagan 1
– Cabrera 1
– Penny 1
– Wainwright 8
– Jay 3
– Carpenter 2
– Umpire 7 (all from the home plate umpire)
Game Spit Master General = Wainwright with 8
Giants Game Spit Master General = Posey with 6
That’s a total of 41 spits during a 2 hour and 40 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.9 minutes.
Since Bumgarner pitched this game, I also did a snot rocket count. Madison recorded 4 snot rockets. One of these was recorded while he was walking into the dugout after the third out. Come on, Dude!! You weren’t even playing at that point. Can’t you wait until you’re off camera to expel your snot??
Have you noticed someone missing from the spit counts thus far? Our boy Under Pants has not yet recorded a spit in the first two spit counts I’ve done since he’s been on the team. I’ve also been keeping an eye on him during games I’ve watched where I didn’t do spit counts, and I have yet to see him spit. I am pretty darn excited about this. We may have another gentleman besides Brandon Crawford on the team! And if he can continue to keep the saliva in his mouth, I may have to even stop calling him Under Pants!
Speaking of Pence, I’m really starting to love this guy. I know he hasn’t been hitting well recently (ironically his first start with the Giants he went 0 for 4 while Nate Schierholtz went 2 for 5 with a home run on his first start with the Phillies), but he sure did come through with that game-winning 3-run homerun on Sunday. And he was so darn happy about it, grinning from ear to ear. The really cool thing about him is how he always gives credit to other guys first. When asked about his first homerun as a Giant, he gave credit to the guys who came before him who tied the game, Hector Sanchez and Buster Posey. He said they took the pressure off him. And he said he was humbled by all the attention he has been getting from the fans. What class! And what a team player. Plus he is pretty easy on the eyes as well. And he doesn’t spit! So glad he’s part of the team, and hopefully he’ll settle in now and start producing again.
I did notice that Hunter does participate in the outfielders’ celebration jump after they win a game. Talk about awkward! He does this little pre-jump first before he does the big one. But hey, at least he’s being a team player. And I did notice on Sunday that he wasn’t doing the extra jump anymore. Guess he’s been practicing. Another interesting thing I’ve noticed about him is that he only wears one batting glove on his left hand (Madison Bumgarner only wears one, but on his right hand). Most guys wear two. Can anyone explain why he would do this? Dave? The look just adds to the quirkiness of his batting stance.
I need to make a correction to my previous blog about balks. I was at a game with my sister, and she noticed that Timmy stepped toward 3rd from the rubber and faked a throw. She asked me, “How is that not a balk?” I thought it was a balk, too, so I reviewed the rules when I got home. The rule states (rule 8.05b), “If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when the pitcher, while touching his plate, feints a throw to 1st base and fails to complete the throw.” This only applies to a throw to 1st base, so Timmy wasn’t breaking the rule. I went back and corrected this on my balk blog. Sorry about that. And kudos to my sister for noticing that! My brother, Paul, did mention that they have plans to change the balk rule for next season. Then it will also be illegal to fake a throw to 3rd base. So be on your toes, all you pitchers out there! I wonder if there will be a lot of balks called at the beginning of next season due to this new rule.
The Giants made another acquisition since I last blogged. They acquired left-handed relief pitcher Jose Mijares by claiming him off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. This means they didn’t have to trade for him. They just paid a $20K transaction fee and then paid what’s left of his contract this year (about $300K). The guy’s had a 2.56 ERA in 51 appearances this year before coming to the Giants. He’ll also be under team control through 2014. Pretty sweet, and another great deal we got from the Royals (remember Melky?). The weird thing about this one is that no one else picked him up. Priority for claiming someone off waivers is based on your standings in the league, and since the Giants have done so well this season (YAY!), more than 20 teams had to pass on him before we could pick him up. Considering his stats and the low price, this is pretty amazing. He’s pitched in a couple of games I’ve watched so far, and he’s done a stellar job. Keep up the great work, Jose, and welcome to the team.
One funny note about Jose: When he first came to the team, Andrew Baggarly commented in his column that Jose has a chinstrap beard that goes under one of his chins. Where does he get that stuff?? I have to admit that the boy is pretty “healthy”, but considering how it’s working for him, I wouldn’t change a thing!
I have some exciting news to share: They’ve changed the ending of that creepy Comcast SportsNet Andrew Baggarly/Ray Ratto ad!! I was so thrilled the first time I saw it – someone is listening! Now instead of Ratto patting Baggs on the butt, he throws a dollar into Baggs’ laundry cart and says, “Looks good. Treat yourself!” Thank goodness! They need to run those ads by me first so I can evaluate the creep factor.
There’s one new thing that I’ve learned from watching a game recently that I thought I would share (always expanding our baseball knowledge). Thole of the Mets hit the ball and ran to first on the left side of the baseline (in the grass). Buster threw to first to get him out, but the ball hit Thole and bounced into the outfield. Instead of being safe, Thole was called out and the runners had to go back to their original spots (thank goodness because the bases were loaded at the time). This happened because he went out of the legal running lane so he interfered with the throw. If he had been within that lane, he would not be out because you are not out if you are hit by a ball thrown by a player. This may be the inspiration for a future blog about legal running paths!
My cousin Manny, the one who collects bobbleheads, is now famous. He makes a guest appearance in an episode of Inside the Clubhouse, specifically the Will Clark part 3 episode. Manny attended the Will Clark tribute day (of course because they gave away a bobblehead), and Will addressed the fans before the game. You can clearly see Manny in the crowd. Hope all this fame doesn’t go to his (bobble)head!
During the last series against the Rockies at Coors Field, did anyone else wonder what the writing said behind home plate? It looked like YTRFAN. ???? It bugged me so much that I finally Googled it. It says “YeaR of the Fan,” and the R is capitalized because it stands for “Rockies.” Apparently this is the Rockies theme this year. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been such a great year for Rockies fans, considering their boys are in last place in their division. One bright spot might be that at least game tickets are probably cheap!
Speaking of the Rockies, my sister and I went to the Rockies’ game last Friday night. Of course, it was the only game of the series that we lost! We still managed to have a great time. My sis is the best! They had a pregame ceremony to honor Matt Cain for his perfect game. We realized that at the last game we had gone to together they also had a pregame ceremony to honor Matt Cain. Guys, it was an awesome feat, but enough is enough! At least we got a cool perfect game pin out of the deal.
I’ll share a little secret with you all. We sat at the very back of Lower Box Section 110 right in front of a popcorn vendor. The drawback to this was that we were drooling from smelling popcorn all night. But the huge benefit was that around the 8th inning, they were cleaning up and had lots of yummy popcorn to get rid of. So we got a huge container of popcorn for free! Free is always good, especially when popcorn is involved. So keep this in mind next time you’re buying tickets.
With the return of Hector Sanchez from the disabled list comes the unfortunate news that Eli Whiteside has gone back down to the minors. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, and Eli did do a great job while he was up with the big boys. As of September 1st, the roster expands from 25 to 40 men, and I think that means Eli will be back up with my boys. Can’t wait to see his smiling, white-haired self again!
Beat the Streak update – my brother Nick has taken over the lead from my cousin Manny with a hitting streak of 15. My record is 10. Still holding out hope I can beat him, but it’s really tough!
We’re still too close to LA in the standings for my comfort. And that Nationals game last night was so depressing! I felt so bad for Ryan Vogelsong. He had been such a rock up until then. At least they came back tonight and won big time. Way to go, Boys! It was definitely a team effort. And major kudos to Madison Bumgarner for pitching a complete game. You rock, Kid! Buster has been so hot lately, Brandon Belt has finally been hitting regularly, and Hector Sanchez has continued to hit well since coming off the DL. Plus Hunter finally got a homerun as a Giant. Hopefully all this, along with the fact that Pablo is back, will start a fire and we’ll see some bats wake up. I know you can do it, Boys! Fight for that playoff berth! GO GIANTS!