To bunt against the shift?


To bunt against the shift?

Every once in a while, David Ortiz will step up to the plate and look out to an altered infield.

In France, they call it Le Sheeft: One first baseman, two second basemen, one shortstop and a lot of empty space. And every time I see Ortiz or any dominant left-handed hitter go head to head with Le Sheeft, I have the same nagging thought:

Why doesn't he just tap it down the third base line?

But it barely happens, if ever. In fact, most hitters pretend like shift isn't even there. They figure: "Why should I let these guys dictate how I play? I'm just going to be me!" And many times, that's good enough.

Still, how easy would it be for a hitter like Ortiz to turn that strategy on its head?

What if he took a little extra time, learned how to bunt and did so sporadically over the first few weeks of the season? How many successes, or even just attempts, would it take before the defense had to stop? They'd have to eventually, right?

Anyway, today in Fort Myers, Bobby Valentine was waxing philosophical on bunting, and was asked if he'd condone a guy like Ortiz or Adrian Gonzalez bunting to beat the shift.

You mean like in the ninth inning with three runs down and theyre leading off the inning?" he said. "I think its a great play."

Asked if that was the only situation where it might make sense, he responded:

"Maybe. I dont know what other times there are -- theres a tough pitcher and they (hitters) have a sore hand. Theres all circumstances when a bunt for a base hit by a big guy or a little guy can activate the offense. Think Ill ever give them a bunt sign? No. I dont think Ill give many people a bunt sign. But I want them to have it in their toolbox.

One word: Bravo!

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Turner jokes that Celtics will retire his number

Turner jokes that Celtics will retire his number

It’s not the craziest thing someone has said on Twitter, but Evan Turner tweeted Monday that the Celtics should retire his number. 

It was a joke, of course, as the former Celtic was reacting to news that Isaiah Thomas had said he liked the No. 11 and would change his jersey number if so many people in Boston hadn’t already purchased his No. 4 jersey. 

After Turner joked that No. 11 was going to be retired, Thomas joked back that he would wear No. 11 as a tribute to the current Trail Blazer. 

Prior to being traded to Boston, Thomas wore No. 22 for Sacramento and No. 3 for Phoenix. 

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 


The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability.