Archive for October, 2007

Sports and Ethics on Vacation

Sports and Ethics has been posting from Spain. Will miss the rest of the World Series and the next couple of weeks of the NFL.

Just saw sports here in Barcelona. Biggest coverage was on the South Africa Springboks who recently won the World Rugby Cup. Actually, I like rugby … a lot more than soccer.

It’s Just 2-0 (?)

I can’t say it with quite as much conviction as when it was 1-0. At least the margin of defeat was 11 runs less. I’m still rooting for a 7-game series.

It’s Just 1-0

The Colorado Rockies were completely dominated by the Boston Red Sox who put on a record-breaking display in a 13-1 route in game 1 of the World Series at Fenway Park. The Sox handled the Rocks like they were Little Leaguers, but an hour after the game is over, it’s no worse than a 1-run loss for the Rockies. It’s just a 1-game-to-none margin no matter what the score was. Maybe the Red Sox have used up all their hitting in the first game, they might be thinking, hoping.

Who knows? What we do know is that this was just one game and Boston will need to beat Colorado three more times before they can be crowned. And it’s not exactly like the Rockies have never had to overcome a seemingly insurmountable difficulty before.

So play the games. Hopefully seven of them. Fans love seven-game series.

No matter what happens, it has been an incredible postseason, one that has been good for the fans, and good for baseball.

Johnson and Johnson: Can’t We Just Get Along?

Keyshawn and Chad, can’t you guys just get along? For crying out loud, you’re cousins already! All in all, I think this abrasive interview by a suddenly-proper-and-pompous Meshawn J. was handled pretty well by Ocho Cinco. I’m not a fan of his shenanigans, but he seems to be doing the right thing during the Bengals’ current slide, and his cousin looked to all the world like someone who was inept at broadcasting and interviewing and was just looking to stir something up.

Hypocrisy comes to mind as well.

Give the nod to Chad on this one.

What’s Wrong With Baseball #7: The Concept of the Closer

Is the guy who pitches an inning or less at the end of a game really more deserving of a save than the guy that comes in with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and nobody out, and retires the side, then pitches two more scoreless innings? Of course not, but that’s what our closer save system does. The closer is just the finisher; he is not necessarily the saver. Saves should go to the reliever who did the most to save the game, not the guy who happened to get the last out just because he’s the last pitcher in the game.

The term closer is overrated and save statistics as figured now are basically irrelevant.

What’s Wrong With Baseball #8: Cheating

Cheating would come in at No. 1 if I were currently doing a series on What’s Wrong With Football. And there would be something about Belichick and video tape. But baseball is far from being above the cheating fray. And it never has been. While Bill Belichick has taken cheating to a whole new level of sophistication, similar things have been done in baseball for a long time, though not quite in such a refined manner (e.g., binoculars in the scoreboard stealing signs).

The cheating that stands out right now … I mean right now … is steroids, and related substances. I really hope there is a way Paul Byrd can be found innocent. (See “Byrd Revelation Casts Pall Over Indians-Red Sox Game 7.”) Barry Bonds is still on the hook, though nothing has yet been proven. Then we have Giambi.

Perhaps the most disappointing is Mark McGwire, who has disappeared since his sworn testimony evaporated.

Let’s be honest about cheating. It has been part of the national pastime in more ways than can be enumerated from memory.

There was the out-in-the-open dirty play … Ty Cobb sliding into the bag with his spikes high.

Gamblers fixed games … whatever one believes about the Black Sox … perhaps the worst form of cheating.

There was one that was so universally used that they had to create a rule to prevent it … the spitter. Gaylord Perry, where are you now? We even hear about little edges that Hall-of-Fame greats like Whitey Ford used to get … digging a wedding ring into a ball, for example.

My goal is not to list all the types of cheating in baseball. You can stretch the whole ethics issue here. How about a catcher framing a pitch to try to fool the umpire? I remember once playing first base in a pick-up game. One of our infielders tossed me a ground ball, which arrived at about the same time as the runner, but clearly beat him. I had to come into the line to get the wide throw and the runner slammed into me. I went sprawling, tearing a brand-new pair of pants (in the days before rips became desirable).

The runner jumped off the ground. “He didn’t touch the bag,” he yelled repeatedly. Everyone considered him out. I was the only one who knew he was right. But I was ticked about the pants. I didn’t say I did touch the bag, but I didn’t say I didn’t either. So he was out. That was unethical … and now it’s finally off my chest.

My point is … even little forms of cheating, like trying to get an edge with the umps, are cheating.

We would all love it if we could free the game of the big cheats and forms of cheating. But how about we just expect adults who play baseball to be honest. Now, wouldn’t that be refreshing?

I Missed This About Brady and Belichick

In yesterday’s post “Brady’s Six TD Passes: Are You Kidding Me?” I finished with, “It seems like I should say something about Bill Belichick, cheating and video tape here, but … forget it. They just plain dominated.”

Now I learn I was too kind. I did not see the game and wrote the post as a tip of the hat to a team I have been down on since Videogate. I didn’t have the whole story. Here’s a quote from an AP story:

“Tom Brady was flawless at the start and off the bench, too. With his team winning easily, Brady came out of the game early in the fourth quarter Sunday, then re-entered to throw a team-record sixth touchdown pass, capping unbeaten New England’s 49-28 rout of the winless Miami Dolphins.”

He actually played into the fourth quarter before coming out, and when the scrubs couldn’t dominate, Belichick actually put Brady back in to run up the score. I hear he was less than pleased by questions about running up the score. This is something Bill Walsh would never have done with his dominant Niner teams. But then Belichick bears no resemblance to Walsh … at least when it comes to ethics.