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Advancing the Insight, One Base at a Time
2003-12-03 05:07
by Jon Weisman

Alex Belth of Bronx Banter, who made a Thanksgiving weekend foray to some used bookstores (that is to say, bookstores that sell used books, not bookstores that are washed-up), is reading Maury Wills' autobiography, On the Run. He quotes from it today, and now I'm going to steal that quote from Alex - less because Wills is an ex-Dodger and more to relay the compelling thoughts about bunting and fundamentals from one of the game's most famous small-ballers.

I refuse to get upset with modern ballplayers who can't bunt or run the bases. They said the same things when I was playing.

So it doesn't drive me nuts to got to a game and see players who can't execute fundamentals. There were only a handful of players when I played who could do the little things like bunting properly. The game hasn't really changed that way. Managers get made because someone didn't sacrifice a man over, but very few managers insist that their players learn to bunt.

...They don't have a column in the papers to tell who's leading the league in sacrifice bunts. You don't see guys demand that their salaries be doubled because they lead the league in sacrifice bunts. There's not glory for bunters. All bunting does is win ballgames.

...Learning to bunt takes a lot of time. The manager ends up assuming that some guys can do it and others can't and he leaves it at that. You have to have time for infield practice. You have to have time for batting practice, the great priority. You have time for all that other stuff, but you don't have time for bunting.

It's like I wrote way back in Feburary.

Brian Jordan is quoted as saying more little ball is coming. ÒWe shouldn't have to sit back and wait for the three-run home run. We're going to do a lot more."

I think I could find a quote like this every year from more than one Dodger. I know this was supposed to be a big part of Bill RussellÕs approach as manager, and IÕve heard Tracy advocate it as well.

But itÕs like the bunting thing. ItÕs all well and good to want to hit and run - who doesnÕt want to send a runner from first to third on a single? But unless you teach these guys to do it -- and apparently, major leaguers still need to be taught -- it ainÕt gonna happen. So hopefully, itÕs being taught this year, not just talked about. Think Mike Scioscia would leave the Angels to become a hit-and-run coach here?

Or in April, during the opening week of the season ...

Frankly, IÕve been wondering what makes mediocre offensive teams like the Dodgers think they would be any better at manufacturing runs than they are at buying them retail. If theyÕre not good enough build an above-average OPS, what makes them think that they can execute a fairly difficult play, the hit-and-run?

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