THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
In my opinion, it's pretty annoying when players, fans, and anyone else have to say or do something to "psyche" themselves up for what might be considered a big game. What's worse is when it backfires.
At the beginning of May, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros met for the first time in the baseball season. The Rangers and Astros are both inter-state and inter-division rivals, playing in the American League West. So there is already a bit of juice to the series.
So why did Astros third baseman Alex Bregman decide to fire off a Tweet to fire people up and tick off the Rangers? Your guess is as good as mine.
Bregman has been in the big leagues for all of five minutes. He played for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, only to ride the bench in favor of other established stars. He is certainly not the established leader of the team. When he Tweeted an obscene (but coded) battle cry to intimidate and beat Texas, the Rangers decided to print copies of it and put them up all over their clubhouse as motivation.
So what did Texas do? Pitcher Andrew Cashner hit two batters, including Jose Altuve to start off the bottom of the first inning. So Houston's pitcher, Lance McCullers, then threw behind the back of the Rangers' Mike Napoli. That's when the benches cleared and everyone congregated in a pushing and shoving match.
These attempts to "fire up your squad" are nothing more than pep rallies, which are pointless from the get-go; if you need to motivate people with some "pep," rather than assume they will find the motivation themselves, then there is a bigger concern at hand.
Is it done to try to scare or intimidate the opponent? Do you honestly think that this type of behavior will psychologically affect other competitors?
But consider the outcomes of these attempts to intimidate opponents as if they were categorized like Descartes' Wager:
-If your opponent cowers in fear from the intimidation attempts and you beat them, did you really beat them fair and square? Did you really need to give your all to win over a compromised opponent? It doesn't seem very satisfying.
-If your opponent cowers in fear but still beats you, then you look like an idiot.
-If your opponent gets angry and fights harder but you win, why did you make it harder on yourself? I'm sure it's nice to be able to achieve victory by raising your game to immense levels, but was it worth the risk?
-If your opponent gets angry and fights harder and beats you, then you look like an idiot.
There's really no victory worthy of trying to intimidate your opponent. The cost/benefit ratio is absurd. Your best bet is to keep your mouth shut and just go do your job.
But the worst part of all this is not that it happened between the Astros and Rangers. Rather, the problem is that this type of behavior is practiced with our youth as described in pep rallies and other types of scenarios. Rivalries between high schools and colleges do nothing more than endanger our impressionable youth by exposing them to practices and traditions that do nothing more than cause detriment rather than teach good sportsmanship and morals and focus on the good experience of the game instead of the need to win.
Remind your young ones that it's about the good experience of playing the game, not about demeaning or defeating someone else.
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.