Bunting will be a part of baseball forever. Even when the commissioner inevitably bans the practice for being lame, and the fast, nimble players revolt, resulting in extremely swift riots breaking out across the sport, bunting's influence will be felt. Then, eons after our deaths, future historians will access ancients baseball texts and call upon only their most educated scholars to decipher hieroglyphics of players crouching, the bat awkwardly sitting in their hands, hoping a thin slice of wood will be enough to protect them from a rapidly moving sphere.
We're still in the heyday of the practice, however. As a new manager with a new contract, most things Pete Mackanin does can be viewed with curiosity as we figure out what sort of manager he is going to be. Mackanin has answered the question of how much bunting the Phillies will employ by bunting a bunch of times in spring training. And not just bunting - the craziest sorts of bunting.
Sometimes, even successfully.
Mackanin is all about squeeze plays. #Phillies just pulled off another, 3rd in 4 days. Nina puts down bunt on a suicide squeeze to score run— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 22, 2016
Sort of. You can't convince me that Freddy Galvis was aiming that ball to go over the pitcher's head into the tiny no man's land on the right side of the field. Anytime a bunt goes in the air, I assume a mistake has been made. [I wish there was someone standing over my shoulder while I did my job to scoff and snort indignantly, then passive aggressively tweet about my every mistake. Maybe then I would know what it is like to bunt. Also, I don't really wish that.]
Also I see MLB referring to it as a "safety squeeze" now, but seriously, there's a type of a bunt called a "suicide." How many more indicators do we need to be warded off from doing this.
Look, as a fan of the Victorino's and Herrera's of the sport, I too feel the thrill of a capable player on a streaking pair of legs using his distinct skills to get on base. And look, the Phillies even scored a run! It's the eye-rollingly poor attempts that result in double plays instead of runners in scoring position that make the act so repulsive. If a team insists on bunting, even after it injured one of their main pitchers in the pre-season, then they at least should be doing it flawlessly. Is that so hard to ask?
Not to Pete Mackanin, who will apparently be demanding financial tributes for each mistake committed by his players.
"If you don't get a bunt down, everyone pays 50 cents," Mackanin said before Thursday night's rained out Grapefruit League game against the Braves at Champion Stadium. "If you don't hustle, everyone pays 50 cents. If you miss a cutoff man, everyone pays 50 cents."
The idea is that Mackanin will assemble his squad during the week and announce the cost of everyone's infractions. Should any particular player have tallied a significant tab, the hope is that they will be the target of such glorious ridicule that they will learn from their mistakes.
It's yet another sign of Mackanin being a "players manager," more like Charlie Manuel than Ryne Sandberg. Young players will respond to this. Maybe not at first, but when they bring their chocolate milk pouches to the cashier in the cafeteria and find their pockets empty, they'll learn. Oh, how they will learn.