Bunting to break up a no-hitter: baseball’s silly unwritten rule

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It has long been debated in baseball whether a player has the right to bunt when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter. Baseball’s unwritten rule is that no player should resort to trickery and bunt to break up a no-hitter.

One of the most famous bunting to break up a no-no came in 2001 when Curt Schilling had his no-hitter ended by San Diego Padres player Ben Davis, who bunted for a hit late in the game. Davis broke up Schilling’s perfect game causing shockwaves through baseball’s unwritten rules.

The controversy over bunting to kill off a no-hitter raged again in 2019 when Matt Lipka of Triple-A Trenton Thunder bunted for a hit just as Hartford Yard Goats were one out away from a combined hitless game. Lipka’s bunt nearly incited a fight between the two teams as benches cleared after the final out of the game.

So, why is bunting to break up a no-hitter such a controversial part of baseball? The below graphic from Betway show’s a few of the games unwritten rules.

The spirit of the game

The unwritten rule of not bunting is perhaps one of baseball’s silliest codes amongst players. Baseball is a game and players should compete without worrying about an unwritten directive that has been observed for decades.

Baseball is a game with two teams competing to win. Therefore, players doing whatever is within the written rules of baseball is fair. Bunting is part of the game just as getting a single with a hit to left field.

Although it may be seen as disrespectful to break up a no-hitter with a bunt, it is just as disrespectful for offensive players not to do their best to win a game.

Make it difficult

A no-hitter isn’t an easy feat by any means for a pitcher. However, a no-hitter isn’t just about a pitcher’s performance on the hill. A hitless game involves a sterling defensive performance from the men playing in the field. Therefore, an infielder or outfielder must be on their toes to prevent a no-hitter from being broken up.

Infielders should be ready to stop a bunt and prevent a pitcher’s hitless game from ending. If it is disrespectful to bunt during a no-hitter, then it should be just as discourteous for a fielder not to do whatever is possible to stop a player from reaching first base.
This includes being ready to sniff out a bunt instead of sitting back and waiting to field a ground ball or pop-up. No-hitters are as much about the fielders as it is the pitcher. A hurler needs his fielders to complete a hitless game.

In the case of both Davis and Lipka, the two hitters reached base and potentially put their teams in a position to win. Davis’ Padres were down 2-0 to Schillings’ Philadelphia Phillies and his bunt brought the tying run to the plate. Lipka’s bunt put the tying run in the on-deck circle and suddenly the Thunder had a chance to level the score.

Bunting to break-up a no-hitter is within every players’ right and winning is the goal of a baseball team. Therefore, the unwritten rule of not bunting to end a perfect game should be ripped up.