More on that Crazy Play

From the Post-Gazette:

The simplest explanation came from manager John Russell, who acknowledged "this was the kid's second game in the majors" but did not excuse the play: "If he takes off right away, it's over. Bixler just froze."

To hear the Pirates tell it, this is all Brian Bixler's fault. In the quote above, John Russell pretty much just comes out and says the Pirates lost the game because of Brian Bixler.

A couple of things:

1. Why would Russell come out and say something like this?

2. As an interested outsider who didn't play a lot of organized baseball, I'd like to ask a couple of questions before we close the book on this.

-Why not give a sign? If Jose Bautista wants to bunt, why can't the Pirates just devise a signal for him to give Bixler instead of just expecting Bixler to roll with it? It seems that, even in the best of situations, Bixler isn't going to get to the plate as quickly if he doesn't already know the bunt's on.

-What if, as commenter Mattbert asks over at Baseball Primer, Bautista had just been faking the bunt to draw the infield in? If Bixler doesn't know what's going on, it's just as reasonable for him to draw that conclusion. If he thinks that might be a possibility, it's better for him to just stay at third, because if he darts home on a faked bunt, he's dead meat. As much crap as the Pirates are giving him now, it would be worse if he'd gotten himself into a rundown between third and home before Bautista even made contact.

It may be that there are perfectly good answers to these questions. As someone who hasn't played a ton of organized baseball, I wouldn't know. But the question in my mind right now isn't, "Why didn't Bixler run?" Instead, it's, "Why would the Pirates allow that play?"

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