The Red Sox’ home opener is today and before the game they were presented with their World Series rings. But it wasn’t just the ordinary presentation with the team owner giving them their jewelry. The rings were carried out on to the field by people associated with the Marathon bombing last year. Families of victims, firefighters and other first responders.
Say what you want about the Red Sox, but they do a fantastic job of connecting with their community in meaningful ways. There is just not a team that any closer of a relationship with its city than do the Red Sox. Just makes moments like this pretty perfect.
And, for the record, here are the rings:
Not exactly understated, but compared to the World Series banner they unveiled before the game it’s practically reserved:
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.