bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Tampa Bay manager doesn’t really understand instant replay

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Most of the big sports now have some degree of instant replay being used in an effort to get more calls correct. In order to avoid endless games, the big sports have implemented a challenge system, where coaches can officially question calls and ask for a review. I see this as great progress in sports, as I hate to see games turn on incorrect rulings. Some of the rules about how the challenges can be used, though, make me wonder if the goal is really to get things right or if it’s just to appease the fans a little bit. A good example of this happened in the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

In the fourth inning, Wil Myers of the Rays singled. Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle made a pickoff attempt, and Myers was called safe. John Gibbons, the Toronto manager, came out and argued the call, asking for a review. The request was granted and Myers was ruled out after the replay showed the tag was made before his foot reached the bag. That’s when the mess started, as Buehrle and hitter Yunel Escobar had moved back to a playing position (on the rubber and in the batters box, respectively) before the replay request was made. The rule about when the challenge can be made says that it must be before the next pitch or play, and gives some guidelines as to when exactly that is, but it also leaves it at the umpire’s discretion. Regardless, Tampa Bay manage Joe Maddon immediately stated that the game was being played under protest, and he seemed very confident that the league would rule in his favor. Toronto won the game in ten innings, 5-4.

Here’s the thing: the correct call was made. Maddon never attempted to argue that Myers was indeed safe, because he clearly was not. He argued that the challenge was granted when it should not have been, based on the fact that Buehrle was back on the rubber and Escobar was back in the batter’s box. I understand trying to do everything you can to get a win for your team, but this is a really weak strategy in my opinion. If a pitch had been thrown, I would be fully in support of Maddon and his argument. That had not happened, however, and this rule is far from clear about when exactly the next play is considered to have begun. With that haziness, shouldn’t the real goal be to make sure that the right call was made? That was done here, and no one is questioning that fact. To go so far as to protest the game on a technicality, especially one that was far from clear, is to make a mockery of the game and its rules. I like Joe Maddon, but I think he should be embarrassed for doing this.

As of this writing, MLB has not yet ruled on the protest. Maddon should not hold his breath, though. Although the San Francisco Giants just won a protest last week, they were the first team to do so in nearly thirty years. I would not expect another one to happen so quickly, especially not this one.

Bad sports, continued:

2) The Pittsburgh Steelers top two running backs were arrested on the way to airport on Wednesday to travel to Philadelphia for a preseason game against the Eagles on Thursday. LeGarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell will be charged with possession of marijuana. Bell was driving and reportedly failed a sobriety test, so additional charges will likely be filed against him.

3) The Detroit Tigers have ridden their pitching to a very good season so far, sitting in second in their division after leading the way for much of this year. That pitching forgot to show up on Friday, as the team gave up twenty runs in a loss to the last-place Minnesota Twins. It got so bad that infielder Andrew Romine was forced to pitch in the eighth inning.

4) Nothing feels worse for a soccer player than missing an open net. Actually, missing it twice on the same play likely ranks lower. Junior Malanda, a midfielder for Wolfsburg in Germany’s Bundesliga, did exactly that on Friday night during a match against Bayern. It’ll take a while to get over that one.

5) Alan Branch, a defensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills, was arrested for drunk driving in New York on Friday. On Saturday, the team released him.

6) I feel bad for the fans of the St. Louis Rams. They weren’t going to win the Super Bowl this year or anything, but they looked like they were an up-and-coming team that was likely headed for a pretty good season. Then, on Saturday night, quarterback Sam Bradford, who missed half of last season with a torn ACL in his left knee, tore that very same ACL again. He will miss the entire season, and the team’s fans might wish they could miss it right along with him.

Good sports:

1) Dorial Green-Beckham, the talented wide receiver who was kicked off of the University of Missouri football team back in the spring, was denied his petition to play immediately at his new school, the University of Oklahoma. The rules say he has to sit out this season, but he was hoping for an exemption based on the fact that he was not actually transferring, but merely enrolling at a school after having been dismissed by another. There may have been some merit to this argument, but I am glad that the NCAA did not allow this to happen, as the precedent would have been a bad one.

2) At his first international meet in over a year and a half, swimmer Michael Phelps won three gold medals and two silver medals at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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