May 22, 2010

The Perfect Game: What Would You Do?



If the pitcher has so far pitched a perfect game, and you are the batter in the bottom of the 9th, do you purposely strike out to give it to him?

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Comments

This is a confusing trick q... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 7:17 PM | Posted by rox: | Reply

This is a confusing trick question to me. I don't play sports and I don't really care about winning. So maybe it doesn't work on me? Questions like these could mean so many different things depending on the person being asked. I hope your follow up to the trickiness reflects that. I wouldn't be playing a sport like baseball with people who care about winning to begin with so I just can't get my head around how to answer it. If I was playing sports, I guess I think the goal is to do your best and have fun, I let people win all the time, but I try really hard NOT to do that if they really care about winning. Because giving a serious player a win without trying is kind of insulting as well. I've never beaten my uncle at chess, but if I came close I sure wouldn't give him the win. But then again, do I sabotage myself because I do worry about peoples feelings when losing?

That being said, I am the kid who in third grade had the best individual running time in the class and when we all raced together the same distance I came in last. The teacher asked why I came in last and I said I didn't want to hurt anyones feelings.

Honestly I hate sports and whatever will make others happy is fine with me... mostly this means I don't play them.

What does it all mean??! : )

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You know it's funny, but it... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 8:08 PM | Posted by TimP: | Reply

You know it's funny, but it didn't even occur to me to strike out so he would get a perfect game until after I started reading the comments. I was thinking "would you just give up since he's an obviously superior pitcher". My answer, "No, I play my best like always" is probably pretty much correct. I'd simply continue to do the best I could to get my team as many runs (points? I don't know much about Baseball) as possible.

It's probably because I'd rather nearly "play a perfect game" (or whatever the goal is) in a fair competition, then "play a perfect game" because the other team gave it to me. Partly it's because I see the purpose of keeping scores in sport to be seeing who's the "best" (at least on this day); if you don't care who is the "best", don't bother keeping score. The other reason is because I'd see it as an insult to let me win. It implies that A) I don't have the skills to win on my own (possibly true in Baseball), and B) (more importantly) that I don't have the emotional stability to handle losing without getting upset.

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I put that I would play my ... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 8:37 PM | Posted by Sammy: | Reply

I put that I would play my best no matter what, and that is what I normally do.

I HAVE thrown games before, though! But I do it for different reasons depending on the situation. If I am tired of playing and losing means I can quit but winning means I can't, I will lose on purpose. If the person I'm playing against is a sore loser and I don't feel like dealing with their tantrums, I will lose on purpose. If I feel uncomfortable with winning or unsure how to react if I do win (I have problems socializing sometimes) that day, I will lose on purpose just so I don't have to deal with the attention.

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You have to try your best. ... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 8:43 PM | Posted by Kevin: | Reply

You have to try your best. A perfect game is something that the pitcher earns not something he is given.

To give the pitcher the game would be a disservice.

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So who exactly is to say th... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 9:10 PM | Posted by Julie: | Reply

So who exactly is to say that even if you tried to win the other team wouldn't? I didn't think anyone would intentionally lose on purpose.. only claim they did if they didn't win :p

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I haven't played baseball s... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 9:37 PM | Posted by Mark: | Reply

I haven't played baseball since high school, but options two and three seem indistinguishable to me. A batter does his best to get on base. Getting on base denies the honor of a perfect game to the pitcher. Plus, I can't think of any selfish way of getting on base that would hurt the team's chances of winning. Perhaps the third option means doing something "cheap," like bunting or hitting for a bloop single to the shallow outfield. But, any strategy to get on base is a legitimate means to score more runs---not to mention how difficult it actually is to get on base with a bunt or to direct a hit that accurately.

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My initial reaction was to ... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 9:46 PM | Posted by Wonders: | Reply

My initial reaction was to let him earn it, so I voted play my best but then I was wondering does it depend? Is the notion of 'earned' a construction, something we're fed so we don't do anything it takes to get what we want? Does it depend on what its worth, to me and what I see it being worth to him?

It's not going to cost me anything to give him the coolness of a perfect game unless he values the 'earning' of that. Geez endorsement city, thanks buddy and my family thanks you.
Then unless I'm a crap poor actor, would he even know. So its back to me again. Big mystery, everything is about me cause I'm the only one inside my head and I can't pick and choose to be inside someone else's so yeah its all me, me, me.

So I have an opportunity to intervene. It depends on my ability to act because a 'give' can quickly turn into a 'take'. A take from him and from my team. Or I can do nothing and not a concept of God or destiny takes place but the result of everyone's skill and being in that moment, including the decision I choose to make.

How exciting, I wonder how it all turns out...

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Hmmn ... this was all consi... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 9:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Wonders's comment, by Wonders: | Reply

Hmmn ... this was all considered in the context that it wasn't going to cost my team anything.
Damn these little forays because now I realise that I would make the decision based on what I decided was a valuable principal for my team, him and me. But then why the angst, is there really any other way I can experience these things.
I wonder if the saying "Being only human" might serve better as a belief system, than a little cliché tag.....

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What if my pitcher pitched ... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 10:45 PM | Posted by MH: | Reply

What if my pitcher pitched a perfect game too? I certainly wouldn't want to be the guy that throws the whole game...

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I put "play my best like al... (Below threshold)

May 23, 2010 11:25 PM | Posted by V: | Reply

I put "play my best like always" because "like always" implies that the team has a chance of winning. If we're about to lose, I've probably checked out- and so I don't think I would put much effort into it, perfect game or no. If my scoring might influence the game, not just the pitcher's record, I would try hard.

I do think that the "gentlemen's agreement" is to strike out; I know this happens in other sports, but don't know if that's the case in baseball.

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Why is everyone giving so m... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 12:05 AM | Posted by Lee: | Reply

Why is everyone giving so much deference to the pitcher? Professional batters are paid to give their best each time they step to the plate. The batter should give priority to their own team, own fans, and their own career first. The people above have made it clear that they are not professional athletes. My poll: What field are you in? And do you half-ass your job so your colleagues won't look bad?

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1. I play the best I can.<b... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 1:55 AM | Posted by crescentdave: | Reply

1. I play the best I can.
2. I contribute (finally) to the last psychiatrist because in Firefox, Chrome & IE, the poll doesn't show results and the on-again off-again ad f*cks up. Here's hoping you hire a professional to get your blog up to speed.

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You could always get hit by... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 2:32 AM | Posted by Max: | Reply

You could always get hit by a pitch. On purpose.

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You missed an option. I sus... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 2:50 AM | Posted by Catofstripes: | Reply

You missed an option. I suspect I would try to play as normal (which would be crap by the way, we don't do baseball here) but depression at the way the game has gone, the knowledge that whatever I do won't be enough and perhaps some secret urge to cause the guy grief would conspire to either make me get it entirely wrong or worse, hit out wildly and "by chance" give him the medal...

But you rarely inquire randomly, what crazy theory are you trying to research here?

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There is no "honor" in the ... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 4:32 AM | Posted by Thor Ray: | Reply

There is no "honor" in the achievement if the opposition is not trying their best.

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If you choose either 1 or 3... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 5:09 AM | Posted by Philip: | Reply

If you choose either 1 or 3 you're a narcissist.

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I do my best to deny him th... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 5:29 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I do my best to deny him the perfect game. Baseball is a competition people, not a game you play in a vacuum. Playing to "do your best, like always" is crap - it effectively denies the pitcher's existence. If I can't win, I can do my best to make sure he doesn't either.

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I bet there's some trick th... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 5:42 AM | Posted, in reply to Philip's comment, by Alex-5: | Reply

I bet there's some trick that Alone will explain later that makes any answer a narcissist ;)

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Two more thoughts:... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 5:55 AM | Posted by Alex-5: | Reply

Two more thoughts:

1) Sport kinda is about narcissism, about constatntly saying to yourself "I'm the best, everybody else sucks!"

2) If you chose your answer thinking "Which one makes me a narcissist?" then you have no need to worry - you already are a narcissist, beacuse the actual action does not matter to you, it matters what will others think of you ;)

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Re: 1) I don't think sports... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 7:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Alex-5's comment, by Philip: | Reply

Re: 1) I don't think sports is about narcissism. To a narcissist it doesn't matter whether he wins honestly or by bribing his opponents (as long as he is not exposed), it's all about his appearance to the outside world. A true sportsman would find this attitude completely disgusting; he wouldn't dare to ever look again at his reflection in the mirror, let alone admire it.

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How drunk am I at the time?... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 7:30 AM | Posted by Sean: | Reply

How drunk am I at the time?

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A batter's job is to get on... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 8:09 AM | Posted by Perry: | Reply

A batter's job is to get on base and score runs. A pitcher's job is to prevent that from happening. Whoever does his job better wins. Perfect games are rare for a reason: they're perfect. Twenty-seven batters, twenty-seven consecutive outs. For a batter to desert his mission in an effort to secure "perfection" for the other guy, by definition flaws the game. It is no longer perfect, no matter what the score sheet says.

Baseball lore has it that one day during Joe Dimagio's 56-game hitting streak, he was hitless late in the game until an obliging pitcher served him a juicy one. Joe hit it, streak continued. Did that happen in fact? Maybe only the thrower knows.

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Mom bribed the ump to call ... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 10:02 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Mom bribed the ump to call a balk, got awarded first.

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Alex-5, I'm kinda with you ... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 10:59 AM | Posted, in reply to Alex-5's comment, by eduardo: | Reply

Alex-5, I'm kinda with you on this one, this post seems like a continuation on the milgram experiment ruminations (french obey authority figures), only this time people ask what will they look like if they answer such and such and not what would be the right thing to do (most of the commenters, I think, are actually asking the right question)

but 1) Sport kinda is about narcissism, about constatntly saying to yourself "I'm the best, everybody else sucks!"

this is NOT narcissism, it may be pathetic, it may be an exercise in assholery, narcissistic it is not as the person who says that aknowledges the reality of other people, he wants to beat everybody else because everybody else exists and he derives his identity from what he considers success in this external game of rules (the rules of the game preceed him and his competitors), put in few words: he's internalized wrong and right.

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There have been plenty of p... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 11:49 AM | Posted by gzt: | Reply

There have been plenty of potential perfect games ruined in the 9th inning. More of those than perfect games. There is no gentleman's agreement. It's shameful to be a victim of a perfect game. A gentleman and a sportsman does his best to win.

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What's hard about this? Ev... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 11:51 AM | Posted by Michael: | Reply

What's hard about this? Even if you lose, you go down fighting.

It's not like it's a true "fight" where somebody is going to lose his life. It's not like anybody is really going to suffer much either way. It's a game for Pete's sake!

So the assumption when you walk onto the field has to be that you'll do your best. Your best might be pretty poor (sounds like this pitcher is a lot better today than you were planning for) but you still do your best. And then whatever happens, happens.

Why is this hard? Why is it even worth asking the question?

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I neither understand baseba... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 12:47 PM | Posted by Pip: | Reply

I neither understand baseball nor the cultural significance of 'a perfect game'. What is the actual difference betwen option 1 and 3? If you 'give' the pitcher the 'perfect game' you have in essence denied him or her the honour of winning it. I suppose with option 1 it is guaranteed that there will be a perfect game in the pitcher's stats. The stats being, as far as I understand, one of the most important aspect of baseball. (Along with beer and hotdogs.)

It will be interesting to see how this game plays out.

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Tread carefully, for you tr... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 2:31 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Tread carefully, for you tread on my dreams. I'll do the same; we seek the same meme.

7 days... maybe more, maybe less.

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This is lunacy. I... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 4:25 PM | Posted by Jason: | Reply

This is lunacy.

If you are a professional baseball player, you have a goal: to win the World Series. If you are at bat and down 20 runs with two outs in the ninth inning of the opposing pitcher's no-hitter, your objective, as a member of a professional baseball team, is to play as best as you can in order to set up your team to win this game by a score of 21-20 or better. This one game could be the difference of making the playoffs or not, which in turn gives you a chance to win a division series, which in turn gives you a chance to win an LCS, which in turn gives you a chance to win the World Series.

At no point do you even THINK "I'll be nice and give this other guy a thrill," and anyone who does feel that way is destined to live an unfulfilled life. The End.

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Actually, I think the narci... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 6:06 PM | Posted, in reply to Alex-5's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Actually, I think the narcissism depends on the sport. If the sport is a pure team sport like soccer or rugby or something, it's hard to play just for yourself and win. Baseball is more individual, at least at the plate.

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It seems to me pretty obvio... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 7:04 PM | Posted by bw: | Reply

It seems to me pretty obvious -- sure, you give him the perfect game, unless you hate his guts for some reason. You think teams who are out of the running for the playoffs don't throw the occasional game to help out a team in tight competition, especially if a couple guys on the weak team are buddies with a couple guys on the competitive team? It was a big deal this year because the Phoenix Suns actually played hard their very last game of the season, even though if they deliberately lost they would have gotten a more advantageous first-round playoff matchup.

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You're all retarded.<... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2010 7:27 PM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

You're all retarded.

The correct answer is baseball is gay and there has never been a perfect rugby game.

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LOL. We're writing his arti... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 1:21 AM | Posted by Jarjar: | Reply

LOL. We're writing his articles for him now.

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Since I'm narcissistic, I'd... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 1:58 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Since I'm narcissistic, I'd do anything to break it up. Perfect games are rare enough to be remembered for a long time; it would be too damaging to my identity to be known as the guy that made the last out of a perfect game..

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Seems like we don't have ma... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 3:10 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Seems like we don't have many baseball fans here; a perfect game is when a pitcher faces the minimum number of batters in a game, with no hits, walks or errors. It is such a rarity that dating back to the late 19th century there have only been 20. Given that many outs are recorded on the strength of the rest of the team's defense, it is in many ways a team accomplishment. A few weeks ago, Dallas Braden threw a perfect game with the Oakland A's with few strikeouts and a large number of spectacular plays by his team against the best team in baseball.

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For a blog dedicated to the... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 9:48 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

For a blog dedicated to the topic of narcissism, most of its readers do a very good job of proving the author's points. 500+ instances of I in the comments, extra points for those that feel they are intellectually superior for not getting the significance of a game, I'm sure you are all the funnest of people to be around.

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So you think using the word... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 5:52 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by TimP: | Reply

So you think using the word "I" indicates that the above commenters are nacissistic? The post asks "What would you do?". I'm curious as to how you would respond to that question without using "I" or sounding silly. Say your answer is "I would play my best", you can try changing it to the third person: "Anonymous would play his best", you could use some awkward structure like "This poster", or you could try "Playing your best is obviously the best answer", though that actually doesn't mean quite the same thing, and is also rather egotistical.

Note: I'm not defending my own post above here; maybe it indicates narcissism, maybe it doesn't; I don't really care, and I still think the rationalisation I gave for my decision is roughly right. I'm arguing against the notion that using "I" indicates narcissism.

Also, for everyone else, yes I'm aware that this guy is probably a troll, but he's the perfect bit-actor for me to demonstrate my intellectual superiority against, and bring myself to the for-front of the movie of life (so to speak) as is proper and right. ;-)

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"Playing your best" and "Do... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 10:52 PM | Posted by GT: | Reply

"Playing your best" and "Doing whatever you can to deny him the honor" are pretty much the same answer. If you are playing as best you can, you are basically doing whatever you can to deny him the honor.

I think the question is more about your attitude. I voted for the last choice. I want to deny the pitcher the honor. It's a game and I felt aggressively competitive when I answered it.

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If the dude wants a perfect... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 4:20 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

If the dude wants a perfect game, he's gonna have to earn it. If anybody throws him a bone, they're cheapening the achievement, and the only real difference between a perfect game and a one-hitter is in the sense of achievement.

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To me, when it comes down t... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 4:40 PM | Posted by Kai: | Reply

To me, when it comes down to my (hypothetical) turn at bat, it's down to me and the pitcher, and we each need to try our best. I would not do anything abnormal to ruin things (like attempting to be walked), but I would certainly try as hard as usual to get on base.

When the Canadian women's hockey team was castigated in the media for trouncing poor teams with ridiculous scores (20+ to 0), they said "hey, we come here to play our best, and we play our best against anyone". I support that value.

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Ok, new to the blog and dig... (Below threshold)

July 1, 2010 11:40 AM | Posted by Knives: | Reply

Ok, new to the blog and digging its disgust at the rigors of science now-a-days, a long shared feeling.

As to the poll, option one (1) was my selection, but it was made in error. More information is needed:

Are the teams tied or realistically close?
Would the batter be the first to purposefully strike out?
Will others bat after me? (i.e., are there less than two outs?)

If the answers to all of those questions is "yes", then purposefully, possibly flamboyantly, striking out seems like the best option.

Think of it as a change-up. At this point, the opposing team must be anxious about the prospect of a perfect game. A batter who ostensibly gives up an out has the possibility of enraging the other team by "cheapening" their achievement. It could also inspire in them doubt about the integrity of the game (e.g. someone is taking payola). Another possibility is genuine confusion (e.g. players uncertain why the batter has chosen this risky action).

The idea is that each player on the opposing team will experience a different combination and / or cycling of these feelings (rage, doubt, confusion, anxiety), thereby disrupting team harmony. Unless a timeout were called, it would be unlikely the defending team could regroup in time.

Perhaps I am underestimating professional athletes' ability to keep their heads in the game.

Isn't there a similar tactic used in basketball, involving free-throws? That is, a time-out is called by the opposing team before a free-throw in order to take the shooter "out of the zone." Anyone know if it's effective? Probably just gives the player a chance to catch his breath.

But I'm talking out of my ass as I haven't played baseball since grade school. Plus, no one is going to see this comment anyway.

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This was what I thought, to... (Below threshold)

July 14, 2010 4:00 AM | Posted, in reply to Mark's comment, by Colin: | Reply

This was what I thought, too. Though I answered #3--in the end, to me, it came down to this: if I were to break up the perfect game, I would remember it as "the time I broke up X's perfect game," not just "the time I smacked a double to the opposite field off of X." No matter how narcissistic you can possibly be, there is absolutely no doubt that this is the pitcher's movie--take him out of the picture, and it's just another base hit, just like every other one like it since Little League.

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If I was in this situation,... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2010 8:56 PM | Posted by Wim: | Reply

If I was in this situation, I would storm the mound and try to beat up the pitcher before he had a chance to throw me his first pitch, both benches would likely clear as a result, I would be tossed out, and the game would be disrupted for 15 to 30 minutes. I would then bribe each batter who came after me to do the same thus denying the pitcher the chance to pitch a perfect game because every batter would try to storm the mound and beat the pitcher up- eventually everyone (spectators, officials, press, coaches, players) would become bored or angry and someone would call the game off.

Probably, I would bribe my teammates with $25 gift certificates to Subway.

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Kudos for not saying 'prete... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2013 12:50 PM | Posted, in reply to TimP's comment, by Atarii: | Reply

Kudos for not saying 'pretentious," but "egotistical" isn't much better.
"Oh, he used the passive voice! What an egomaniac!"

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I'd drag bunt, totally unex... (Below threshold)

May 7, 2015 9:02 PM | Posted by the Ka of Morello: | Reply

I'd drag bunt, totally unexpected. No one's throwing a perfect game at my team if I can stop it.

Don't like it? Play better defense.

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