THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
I know it's a little late to the party based on how the blog works; hopefully we will address more time sensitive matters in our podcast from here on out! But with the baseball season here, perhaps this is a nice time to examine this story again.
Last year, one of the big deals that hit the newspapers was "Apple-gate," the scandal about how the Boston Red Sox used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the New York Yankees and gained an unfair advantage that is strictly forbidden by the rules of baseball. Rather than rehash the details, take the time to familiarize yourself with the story if you haven't already.
As an aside, let's highlight just a few additional points:
So what can we take from this?
First of all, let the record state that it is illegal in baseball to use technology to steal signs or gain any sort of advantage. The most that is allowed in baseball are stopwatches, which are used by coaches to gauge times for pitchers to deliver a pitch, catchers to throw to second base, etc. Major League Baseball has actually now started allowing iPads in dugouts (and similar devices) so long as they are issued solely by MLB; this allows players to watch video on pitchers (which they do anyway in preparation) while guaranteeing that the devices are locked and governed by MLB with no threat of additional cheating.
The issue with technology is that it cannot be used to gain an advantage during the moment. If teams or players want to head back to the clubhouse in between innings to examine their most recent at-bat and try to pick up a pattern on pitch sequence, for example, that's completely fine because it does not "tip the pitches" to the hitter so they know what is coming. They're using past experiences to make an estimation on what they think will happen in the future, which is a philosophical experience that can be traced back to how humans make certain understandings about things such as the law of gravity: "I cannot guarantee that the law of gravity will continue to exist, but judging based on my experiences in life, I can place a pretty good bet that it will continue to exist."
So what did the Yankees do to deserve this fine? Well, it was never fully released as to what their sin was, but if I had to guess, it was probably a violation of the mandate that was passed down regarding how teams are not allowed to use their replay technology (especially the phone system of calling back to the replay room) to ask about an umpire's strike zone and then argue with the umpire about it. That's the same as disagreeing with a call on the field, going back to the clubhouse to see a replay, then coming back to argue with the umpire and cite the fact that you saw the replay and the umpire was wrong: that's grounds for immediate ejection.
As to the Diamondbacks, at the time of this writing (which is shortly following the NLWC game), there has been nothing released about the investigation. But it seems pretty clear: if you're lucky enough to own an Apple Watch or a similar device, leave it in the clubhouse!
As an epilogue, the monies collected in the fines were all donated to hurricane relief funds. So there is a quantum of solace to the story!
If you get a chance, check out the web page of Janis Meredith at www.jbmthinks.com; she writes a sports blog for parents, and the content is quite applicable to the message we try to portray in our mission.
Meredith wrote an article last year about how to tell if you're taking youth sports too seriously. Her checklist included 13 great points:
Consider these points seriously, and if any apply to you, don't be ashamed that you fell into the trap! Use positive energy to determine to escape these traits, rather than look back and examine your mistake.
The worst thing you can do is be in denial that any of these apply to you, and unfortunately, that's what happens more often than not. The people who need these words of wisdom (whether they be from Janis or from OSIP) are the ones who will never listen. It's an unfortunate paradox, but rather than focus on the bad, let's empower the good.
Even though I've given up on the Sporting News based on the content some of their writers produce, an article was brought to my attention from Australia's version of the site.
Blake Austin is a professional rugby player in Australia. Back in August, as he was playing for the Canberra Raiders, a fan decided to spit in the direction of a referee, which caused the fan to be ejected and receive a 12-month ban from the stadium. Austin went on record denouncing the act.
"I think everyone needs to respect the referees a little more. We can't have games of footy without them. But that act is certainly not on and that's someone's father and someone's son. I certainly wouldn't want anyone spitting on me as I'm coming off the field. As a club we don't support that at all."
Now, translate that to every sport, and think about how most sports cannot exist without officials.
That Blake Austin is a smart dude.
The San Diego Padres did not have a good 2017 season. But even in the midst of a poor season, some players can keep things in perspective.
Take Erick Aybar, for example. During a game in September 2017 against the Dodgers at home, the Padres infielder was running towards the third base stands attempting to catch a fly ball. The ball landed well out of reach, but Aybar's momentum took him straight to the edge of the stands, where he encountered a young Padres fan.
So what did he do? He slowed up and hugged the kid.
And the kid hugged back!
Aybar was asked about it after the game, and he discussed how kids, especially kids that close to you during a game, are blessings. It's amazing how children can put things in perspective sometimes, right?
Kudos to you, Erick Aybar!
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.