10 years ago today: Ben Davis breaks an unwritten rule

21 Comments

May 26, 2001

With Arizona’s Curt Schilling bidding for a perfect game, Ben Davis drops down a bunt single in the eighth inning, giving the Padres their first baserunner of the contest.

The Diamondbacks were up 2-0 at the time, and there was much debate about Davis’ play afterwards.  Given that it brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the frame, it sure seemed like a smart move from Davis.  However, many Diamondbacks veterans disagreed and manager Bob Brenly called it “chicken.”

Working from the stretch for the first time all day, Schilling walked the next batter he faced, Bubba Trammell, before retiring Dave Magadan and Mike Darr to end the inning.  After a Reggie Sanders homer in the top of the ninth gave the Diamondbacks a 3-0 lead, Schilling gave up two clean hits and a sac fly in the bottom of the ninth before winning 3-1.

What may surprise many is that Schilling, who never did get his no-hitter (while pitching for the Red Sox in 2007, he lost one against the A’s with two outs in the ninth), didn’t much to say about it at the time.  Asked on Twitter about the incident earlier this year, he wrote:

Ben Davis bunt? I never uttered a word beyond “It was surprising”, left it to others to judge. Didn’t care beyond the W, but I had insane stuff that night, hit a gnats ass, split was dropping a foot, couldn’t miss spots, happened about 5 times in my life, no bunt and imo no no

As for Davis, the second overall pick in the 1995 draft, the bunt is what he’s best known for 10 years later.  He last played in the majors at age 27 in 2004.  In 2008, he tried taking his powerful arm to the mound, and he went 5-11 with a 4.61 ERA for the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League in 2010.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

Getty Images
6 Comments

The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.