The Baseball Desert

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Every time I see that damn shift against David Ortiz I feel a burning need to yell at the TV (I'm not the only one - Kristen says "I still think the shift is cheating." But if this article in the Herald is to be believed, it bothers me far more than it bothers Big Papi.

I can see Tito's point of view about not wanting to turn Ortiz into a No. 2 hitter. He's getting paid to get the big hits and drive in the runs. I wouldn't want him to be systematically doing it, but now and again I would really like to see him carefully and deliberately drop one down the third base line for an uncontested infield hit.

What if he did that once a game or once every other game? Above and beyond raising his average by a number of points, would it not in time begin sowing a little doubt in the minds of opposing managers? It's not like he's the only big bat on the team. With Manny and J.D. Drew behind him, there'd be a lot of opportunities to put some extra runs on the board by countering the shift. It could become an interesting battle of wits - get them to put their guys back in position, then hit balls to right field; wait until they put guys back in the shift, then drop some more hits down the left-field line. Maybe I'm naïve, but I'd love to see that, if only to piss off Joe Maddon of the Devil Rays and his über-shift.

Alternatively, Papi could just go with the opposite-field home runs. They seem to be quite effective, no matter where the infield is playing.