Twice this season, opposing teams bunted on us. Once in rec ball and once in travel. Both times there were two outs. Interestingly, to me anyway, both times the bunter was one of the opposing coach’s kids. I’m not sure which one infuriated me more.
I’m not against bunting in baseball. I’m against bunting in 8U & 9U baseball. Dead set against it.
My intense disdain for bunting comes down to two philosophical issues. Bunting at this age is taking advantage of the kids and it is taking away from them as well.
Let’s start with what you take away: time and experience hitting the baseball. “You hit, you play” – a truism of baseball at the just about any level beyond rec and the young ages that employ continuous batting order/roster batting. Basically, the way I see it kids, we’re here to hit the baseball so go up there and put your best swings on the ball. And to become a better hitter, you need to swing and swing a lot; off the tee, soft-toss, batting practice and in actual games where the pitcher isn’t someone named Dad or that you call coach.
Now, for sure, my job entails teaching them how to bunt properly which I will do at some point(s) over the next year or so. And for some of the faster ones, a good drag bunt should be a weapon in their arsenal at the plate. But teaching bunting requires time; dropping two or three down before every BP session does not a good bunter make. At this point, bunting just hasn’t risen to the top of the priority list of things to work on in my limited practice time. Right now, they need more time working on their swing and situational experience using that swing. To put it another way, assuming any of them have the ability (and who really knows at this age), they’re not making the high school team because they can bunt. I’d rather have them spend the time working on hitting. “You hit, you play.”
Far worse though, by bunting you are taking advantage of the kids on defense. And to me that is a no-no. A no-no in the way peaking in on the catcher is a no-no. Sure it’s part of baseball. But just as the kids need to work on hitting, they need to work on all aspects of playing defense. Even more so. At least in t-ball they’ve been swinging the bat. What they’ve not been doing is playing anything that resembles defense. There are so many things they need to learn about proper fielding mechanics, let alone infield and outfield play and cutoffs, that bunt defense is a super low priority.
And therein lies the rub, because you know that Mr. Coach. And that’s why my issue with bunting is really with you; directly with you. Is winning a game so important to you you’re going to short-change your kids and take advantage of mine? I won’t even mention in the travel game you were beating us by a hefty number of runs so scoring one more really didn’t matter. If your kid needs to square up and bunt to get on, maybe, and this is a crazy thought, you should spend more time with him working on hitting.
Hey, what do I know? You both beat us and my kids were ill-equipped to defend the bunt and that is totally, 100% on me. I can live with it because they went down swinging.