THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
When discussing youth sports, specifically the Little League World Series, I've gone on record with my hesitations to endorse such events at their high levels. No matter how we slice it, the particular discussions to be had in this area of youth sports are plenty.
So for a moment, let's put some of it aside and just recognize a good moment...
During the 2017 Little League World Series, Venezuela walked off on the Dominican Republic, causing the losing pitcher to break down in tears. So what did Venezuela do when they realized what was happening? They rushed to the crying pitcher (from the opposing team) to comfort him.
That's right: a team of 12-year-olds realized it was more important to hug it out with a crying pitcher than to celebrate their victory.
Look, we can dissect this a million ways from yesterday. There may be some people making the argument that breaking down into tears after giving up a winning hit seems like an overreaction. I'm not about to begin to make assumptions about the backgrounds of these kids that might shed light onto those suggestions. Let's just take this for face value. After all, these are kids. And we all know that kids can be quite unpredictable.
It was a nice moment captured during the tournament, and we can only hope that others see it and learn by example.
As a self-proclaimed germaphobe, you'd think I wouldn't go for this. But thanks to the advance in hand sanitizers, I'm completely down with this.
Professional baseball has one major difference from other forms of baseball (outside of the rules of the game, the massive salaries, and a bunch of other things): no postgame handshakes between teams.
If you watch a Little League game, a high school game, or even a college game, you will usually see both teams shaking hands after the final out. There may not be exact handshakes: high fives and fist bumps may take center stage instead, but the thought is there. It's a sign of mutual respect following competition. But if you watch an MLB game, the postgame handshakes only take place between members of the winning team.
In fairness, a lot of handshakes between teams happen before the game. When the visiting team comes out for warmups and batting practice, the home team is usually wrapping up, so pleasantries are exchanged then. You may also see the same thing when players are doing wind sprints and other general exercises just before first pitch.
However, Mike Metheny, who managed the St. Louis Cardinals during the inaugural Little League Classic in August 2017, thinks handshakes should be more common, and he got his wish following the event with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In an article for ESPN, Metheny went on record stating that he has actually asked opposing managers during playoff games that, if his team loses, it would be an honor if that team would shake the hands of his players. The other manager never went for it. But Clint Hurdle, his counterpart for the Pirates during that game, obliged. For the first time in a long time, the Cardinals and the Pirates shook hands and hugged each other following the game. Winning and losing didn't matter: both clubs realized what it was about.
When asked about the possibility of this happening, Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer said, "I wouldn't be opposed to it at all. Baseball's not bigger than life. If we can show some kids the proper way to do things, I'm all for it. Ultimately, the game's for them. That's the whole reason we changed the venue and made it in Williamsport. It's for the kids."
Now that's sportsmanship.
If you consider the counterpoint to this argument, there is some credence to the argument as to why baseball players don't shake hands after games. Unlike the other sports, players are very familiar with each other. They play 162 games per year, let alone every day. The last thing some guys want to do after going 0 for 4 is shake hands with the guys who made them look foolish on a steady diet of nasty breaking balls. In fact, some players believe that the contempt that would be bred with said familiarity would cause fights between players on the field.
According to the same article, during 2013, the state of Kentucky banned postgame handshakes due to the fact that more than two dozen fights broke out in postgame handshakes.
Hold on while I cancel my travel plans to Kentucky...
I would buy the raw emotion argument that seems to preclude the tradition in baseball, but then I would ask why the tradition is still done in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and NCAA sporting events? Is baseball above this? They shouldn't be...
It's an interesting conundrum that won't see change for some time, but if we can continue it following the Little League Classic, perhaps that's the first step into a larger world...
A recent advertisement for Cabela's went too far.
The commercial set a father/daughter experience as being one of the most memorable in their respective lives when the daughter had the proper equipment to kill her first prey.
You read that right.
The commercial even tried to show the moment when the daughter was about to release the arrow from her bow as her father looked on through binoculars.
If I type any more on this, I'm going to be sick.
Killing animals for sport is not a sport.
In this three part series, we will examine some of the craziness of MLB umpires that took place during August 2017.
Okay, I have officially given up on the Sporting News.
Joe Rivera is the latest to write the standard article about a disdain for umpires. He goes through the usual rhetoric about umpires not understanding people aren't there to see them officiate or knowing the name of an umpire.
I get it. But enough is enough.
Umpires make mistakes. But why are sports writers and fans so quick to criticize rather than empathize? Aren't we all prone to mistakes?
I just can't take any more of these articles that take the time to call out officials. Do we ever praise officials for a good job? For every one time an official makes a mistake, there are a million other times they do their job properly!
Ironically, the same day I read Rivera's article is the same day that Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo praised three umpires for three ejections in the same day!
To summarize the ejections:
1. Stu Scheurwater ejected Mariners manager Scott Servais for arguing a check swing.
2. Chris Segal ejected Cardinals manager Mike Matheny for arguing "time" being called.
3. Chris Conroy ejected Cubs manager Joe Maddon for arguing a bunt attempt on a hit by pitch.
And Mad Dog didn't even mention this one:
4. Lance Barksdale ejected Blue Jays manager John Gibbons for arguing balls and strikes.
I'll save you the dissection of each situation, but I happen to agree with the umpires in every single one.
It just goes to show you that praise never makes it way to umpires. Everyone knows about the bad stuff, but nobody remembers the good stuff.
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.