Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports

Bradford: When there's no bunting in baseball, I give up

Rob Bradford
September 01, 2017 - 12:56 am

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia is making $25 million this season. For the start he turned in Thursday night against the Red Sox -- which was a pretty good one -- he probaby netted around a million bucks. But he wasn't happy. You know why? Eduardo Nunez bunted.

"It is kind of weak to me," Sabathia said after the Yankees' 6-2 win over the Red Sox. "It is what it is. It just shows what they got over there."

He continued.

"I think they think I'm a bigger guy and I can't field my position," the pitcher added. "I'm an old man, so they should go out and want to kick my butt. I just feel like they tried to take the weak road."

If that doesn't make you throw-up in your mouth just a little bit, you're not really thinking about what was said.

This isn't about the unwritten rules of the game, because bunting in the second at-bat of the game won't be found in anybody's unwritten, written, or morse code version of the baseball handbook. Nunez bunted in the first inning of a baseball game. He was the second batter Sabathia faced. If you thought Corey Kluber taking issue with Nunez swinging hard last week was idiotic because of some misguided code of baseball ethics, than this one should turn your brain inside-out.

Sorry, we have to face the uncomfortable underbelly (pun intended) of professional athletics: Greed.

Sabathia has bad knees. Sabathia is grossly overweight. Sabathia doesn't want to move around hardly at all. Sabathia is in the last year of his contract. You know what all of that means? He doesn't want to be forced to field a bunt. Let me repeat that: He doesn't want to be forced to field a BUNT. This wasn't throwing at somebody's head, or sliding into knees. This was having to field a bunt.

The Yankees pitcher seems like a nice enough guy, who has had a borderline Hall of Fame career. But in this case he fell into the world that a younger CC Sabathia probably abhorred. One that prioritized financial and personal well-being over what is believed to be the ultimate goal every time anybody crosses the white lines -- winning.

You know who didn't lose that mindset? Nunez.

"That’s my game. I cannot change my game. we know he has a bad knee. That’s not my problem. I can’t change my game," the Red Sox infielder said, adding, "We don’t have any guy who has 30 homers, 100 RBIs. We play smart, we play the little game and if he has issues with bunting, they have to work on that. that’s our game. We don’t have power. We have to work. We have to bunt. We have to hustle. That’s our game."

Sabathia suggested Nunez apologized to the pitcher after bunting. And, evidently he did. He apologized that the 36-year-old had to have such bad knees that this had become his existence.

"I said, 'I’m sorry but I have to do it.' That’s my game," Nunez explained. "We know he has a bad knee. I feel bad but I have to do it. It’s my job, and if I had to bunt four times in a row, I do it. I don’t care if he’s mad or not. That’s what it is. I just have to compete and we have to figure it out."

Would he do it again?

"One hundred percent, yes. Play in, or field the ball. I don’t care," Nunez responded, going on to say he wasn't surprised by Sabathia's reaction. "He’s had three surgeries, and we know he was on the DL for the knee. He doesn’t want people to bunt. That’s my game. I don’t have any  power, if I have to bunt full-time, I’ll bunt. That’s not my fault. What am I supposed to do?"

The selfishness of somebody looking out for their next contract in this case is the only conclusion I can draw. I can't believe that there is a baseball player alive who thinks that taking advantage of an opponent's physical limitation is taboo.

It's this type of thing that gives baseball players a bad name. Suggesting pitchers are wimps because they can't perform with blisters is stupid. But when you have a guy complaining about having to bend over for a bunt, that's prime ammunition for the crowd screaming about delicate, non-football-playing, overpaid guys with the bats, hats and mitts.

It's too bad. Sabathia is a really good pitcher. But he also evidently lives in a world few can relate. One where the citizens believe in no bunting.

Population: 1.

 

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