I am not a passionate supporter of the runner-on-second extra-innings rule, but after seeing it in action last year, I became a, “Oh, this is actually fine” guy. While I definitely still don’t like how artificial it feels, I do like how it gets you right down to business in extra-innings (I have never really been a fan of marathon slogs in 12, 13 innings), and it definitely does add a little excitement.
One thing I don’t like about it, however, is that it strongly encourages teams who hold their opponent scoreless in the top of the 10th (like the Cubs did last night) to just go immediately for a boring sac bunt (like the Cubs did last night), preceded by the obligatory intentional walk (it was a HBP for the Mets last night, but it was absolutely going to be an “unintentional” intentional walk). I don’t like when you encourage rote performances.
THAT SAID, I have to admit – I did enjoy David Bote’s sac bunt last night, which set up the ensuing walk, which set up the ensuing Jason Heyward walk-off single. For one thing, Bote absolutely had to get the bunt down or he was possibly going to get blasted by the pitch, and for another thing, it was his first sac bunt since HIGH-A BALL IN 2016:
I almost never celebrate a sac bunt, but I gotta give some love for David Bote's oh-crap-this-is-gonna-hit-me last night, which ultimately set up the opportunity for the walk-off win.
Apparently Bote hadn't had a sac bunt in five years. Bonus thanks to Alonso for the slip. pic.twitter.com/kJm6QYE7pT
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) April 23, 2021
That’s about as well as you can put that one down, given the circumstances. To be sure, if Pete Alonso doesn’t slip, he makes that throw to third base, and probably gets Javy Báez with the force. That’s not so much a problem with Bote’s bunt – again, that was about as good as it gets – and more a problem with the situation. Alonso was crashing down super hard because he knew a bunt was coming, and he knew he had the force available at third. Sure, Bote’s aim is probably to pull that bunt toward third, but against Edwin Diaz and his near-100 mph fastball with hard tail in, there’s only so much he can do. Which, once again, is why I still kinda hate the idea of the sac bunt there. I’m not so sure it works more often in that scenario than it fails, especially with a guy who hasn’t sac bunted in half a decade.
Anyway, it worked out, and whatever I think of the decision – and the extra innings rule that suggests it – I do appreciate that bunt by Bote.