The funny part is that the Oakland A's pitcher could have found himself in the similar position of angrily trying to teach a star third baseman from the American League East about the unwritten rules of baseball.
With no outs in the fifth inning and Oakland winning 4-0, Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria(notes) tried to get aboard with a bunt. The attempt went foul and Longoria ended up striking out while swinging, but his debatable breach of etiquette did not go unnoticed. The partisan crowd at the Oakland Coliseum booed (though Braden was able to keep his composure just a little bit better than the time Alex Rodriguez(notes) walked over his pitcher's mound).
I say debatable, of course, because not everyone is against bunting to break up a pitcher's bid for history. And — what are the odds? — those people are usually in the crew that's being dragged kicking and screaming into the halls of history.
(Rays manager Joe) Maddon said he was fine with Longoria's attempt to get something started with a bunt, although some might consider that a violation of one of baseball's unwritten rules.
"We're trying to score runs there," Maddon said. "We're not just trying to permit him to go into the record books. Our intent is to win the game. And actually if he gets it down, who knows what could have happened. That's one of those other unwritten rules that I'm not a subscriber to."
Bunting to break up a perfect game or no-hitter might just be the most controversial unwritten rule in the unwritten book. And it's probably the most confusing, too. If Ichiro Suzuki(notes) can lead off a game with a bunt single to get things started — hey, the pitcher had a perfect game going then, too — why can't another player do it a few innings later?
But squaring around on a bunt in the later innings just doesn't seem kosher, so are we just talking about timing here? And maybe the margin on the scoreboard? If so, when is the cutoff on bunting? What's the minimum lead a team needs to hold before bunting becomes a no-no?
In this case, I can't side with Maddon and Longoria. Yes, the "get things going" argument might hold water if it wasn't Tampa Bay's best power hitter that was trying to bunt his way aboard. But a Longoria homer or a double to the gap could have sparked things just as easily — and might have even been more likely to happen than a bunt — so I think we have to wonder if the possibility of being on the wrong side of a perfect game for the second straight season was creeping into the mind of the Rays. Braden and the A's would've had a right to be peeved if Longoria's bunt had stayed fair and he found his way aboard.
What do you think?