Just got the press release from MLB:
Third baseman Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays has received a four-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for his aggressive actions toward Umpire Bill Miller, which included throwing his helmet in Miller’s vicinity, during the bottom of the ninth inning of last night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre.
And he’s appealing, so he is in the lineup tonight.
Seems a little light to me. You can get five games for simply leaving the bench and doing some ineffectual pushing and shoving during one of those low-octane on-field fights. I would have thought that throwing the helmet and having it — inadvertently or otherwise — hit an umpire would bring more.
Anyway, this would seem to end it so, for posterity:
The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.
The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.
In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.
Most of the time anyway.
Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:
One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.
The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.