It was a good idea
Good baseball is always about doing what's called for in the situation. Evan Longoria's bunt attempt in the middle of Dallas Braden's perfect game on Sunday was a good idea at the time, and well within anyone's understanding of baseball etiquette.
Longoria was leading off the fifth inning, with Tampa Bay trailing 4-0. While he's a power hitter, the four-run deficit meant the Rays needed a big inning. He was only thinking about getting on base to spark that when he tried to bunt Braden's first pitch for a hit. He fouled it off and would go on to strike out. Afterward, Braden called the try "intelligent,'' and he was right. Had he tried the same thing with Braden three outs from a perfect game, not 15, then maybe you could quibble.
But leading off an inning, it still would have been OK with me because leadoff hitters can't hit four-run homers. Longoria's job, whether in the fifth or the ninth, is to get on base and that was what he was trying to do.
Just playing to win
Not to go too Herman Edwards on everyone, but, you play to win the game.
With his team down 4-0, Longoria couldn't hit a grand slam in that spot to tie the score, so his priority immediately was simplified. He needed to get on base by any means necessary. If he gets on there, perhaps Braden's mojo goes out the window and the Rays find a way to do what they normally do: win. And, really, if bunting was such a sure-fire way to get aboard, everyone would be doing it.
Finally, to be focusing on a perfect game or no-hitter with more than four innings remaining to be played is lunacy.
Middle of game fine
I'm pretty sure if Evan Longoria had bunted for a hit and it had been the only hit in the game, Dallas Braden would have had another tantrum about the "unwritten" rules of baseball, but there would be no basis for it. It is Longoria's job to get on base in that situation and — the last time I looked — bunting is still legal in the American League.
My opinion might be different if there were two outs in the ninth inning of a four-run game, but the Rays still had a decent chance to win that game and it's not their job to help the guy on the other team make history.
For some reason, this reminds me of when reliever Gene Garber struck out Pete Rose with a changeup to end Rose's NL-record 44-game hitting streak. Rose complained afterward that Garber treated the at-bat like it was the last out of a World Series game and should have thrown him a fastball in that situation. Ridiculous. Garber was just doing his job, just like Longoria.
Made perfect sense to try
Los Angeles Times
Was it a bush league move for Evan Longoria to try to bunt for a base hit in the fifth inning of Dallas Braden's perfect game?
Not at all. It was still relatively early in the game, the Rays were down by four runs, and with Longoria leading off the inning, he was just trying to spark a rally. A home run wasn't going to help Tampa Bay much in that situation; the Rays needed baserunners. I've seen plenty of middle-of-the-order sluggers try to bunt for hits in similar situations, especially if the third baseman is playing deep. Why should doing it in a no-hitter be any different?
I'm not a fan of many of baseball's "unwritten rules." These machismo-driven squabbles usually lead to bean-ball wars, bench-clearing brawls and sometimes injuries, not to mention the obligatory fines and suspensions. Nobody wants to get no-hit, so I think Longoria's actions were justified.