In the bottom of the ninth of yesterday's victory over the Chicago Cubs, Chad Cordero was scuffling. The memory of a horrific blown save in Atlanta likely occupied his mind, and while chances were The Chief would make a two-run lead hold up, he didn't seem right. Frank Robinson charged out to the mound:
The batter, Neifi Perez, bunted the very next pitch right back to Cordero, who successfully excuted the throw to first and closed out the victory. Yes, Perez bunted into the last out.
Now, Perez is a severely limited threat at the plate. I recall listening to a spring training game last March, Cubs vs. Royals, with XM picking up the Kansas City feed. The Royals' announcers were brutal whenever Neifi came to the plate. At one point, Perez popped to second, and longtime play-by-play man, the type of guy you imagine would be a slow but kindly golfer who lets you play through on a Saturday morning outing, sarcastically spitted, "Hey, we've never seen that before." Perez is a plainly horrible offensive player.
Still, bunting into the final out of the game is . . . sheesh, a special kind of giving up. Sure, Otis Nixon did it---badly---in the sixth game of the '92 World Series (bunting into the final out), but at least Nixon was blazing fast and could have made it to first on a reasonably well-placed bunt. Perez doesn't even have much speed.
Imagine Mark Brunell trying to execute the two-minute drill throwing right-handed; imagine Chris Dudley trying to drop-kick free throws; imagine Robert E. Lee leading monkeys on roller skates into battle. That's about what Neifi Perez did yesterday, only the others would have had a bit more justification. What Neifi did, especially given the situation, rhymes with quicken-spit.
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As for the Nats, this MLB.com article demonstrates the current management has very little clue what it is doing:
For example, Byrd will start a few games and then if he goes hitless, he is benched in favor of Church. The left-handed-hitting Church also is benched in favor of Byrd whenever he goes hitless after a couple of games.
I guess it's a truism that a player is only as good as his last game, but that's why it's but a truism; this isn't football, after all, and one could only imagine that baseball players need a little continuity and the knowledge that they are clear of managment's whims from game to game.
The answer isn't to ride one player into the ground and bury the other, but Robinson has to display a little consistency. If Byrd is the starter, then fine---treat Church as a fourth outfielder and given him fill-in play in the three outfield positions. But make the decision in an organized and reasonable fashion. Don't bury one player---Church or Byrd---for a week or two at a time and then expect the buried player to produce.
At least the new management seems to know what it's doing, if only in initial baby steps. First goal: an RFK grand reopening on July 21. I'm certain that effort will be appreciated.