Goldstein: On bunting to break up no-hitters, and our brains

From Craig Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus on July 11, 2017:

There’s no need to delve into the unwritten rules of when it is okay to bunt for a base hit during a no-hitter/perfect game again, especially when Grant Brisbee does it better than anyone. Suffice to say that some people find it cheap, while others think the cheap thing is to not take every at-bat seriously and try to set your team up for a win. It’s interesting to see noted hardass Kirk Gibson admire the play by Dyson―but then again, trying to win no matter what is very Kirk Gibson, too.

No, rather than pass judgment on whether it’s acceptable, cheap, acceptably cheap, or otherwise, I wonder why we care at all. Why does our investment in Justin Verlander’s attempt at greatness hinge on the score? The inning? The score and the inning?

It turns out others far smarter than myself have tackled these questions, if not specifically about baseball. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky were mathematical psychologists who essentially founded the field of behavioral economics. Michael Lewis’s recent book, The Undoing Project, covers their lives, and in it lies a scenario that hints at what is taking place when we argue about the etiquette of when it is acceptable to bunt for a base hit:

“You have participated in a lottery at a fair, and have bought a single, expensive ticket in the hope of winning the single large prize that is offered. The ticket was drawn blindly from a large urn, and its number is 107358. The results of the lottery are now announced, and it turns out that the winning number is 107359.”

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Originally published: July 11, 2017. Last Updated: July 11, 2017.