bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Phil Hughes misses a large bonus due to rain and a false sense of propriety

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There are multiple sides to most stories, right? That’s what people say, anyway. Here at BSGS, despite the fact that most of our stories fall pretty firmly on one side or the other, I guess an argument could be made that many stories could be placed on the opposite side of the ledger if you just looked at them from a different perspective. I am a person of strong opinions, so I would likely tell you that you were wrong if you told me that you disagreed with the side on which I placed one of these incidents of wrongdoing or heroism, but it’s my column so I am allowed to do that. Some things, though, really can reasonably be seen from both perspectives, and this week’s lead story is one of them. In fact, I started this out as a Good Sports story. That did not last. The subject is Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes, who missed out on a significant bonus this week due to bad luck and then a bad choice.

Hughes, whose contract paid him $8 million this season, had some bonus clauses in that deal that would give him extra money if he pitched a certain number of innings during the regular season. Last Wednesday, he made what was sure to be his final start of the year against the Arizona Diamondbacks. If he pitched 8 1/3 innings, he would have reached 210 innings pitched for the season, which would have earned him a $500,000 bonus. He pitched a great game, and was leading 2-1 in the eighth inning. It was raining, but had not yet rained hard enough to stop the game. After Hughes retired the side in the top of the eighth, the umpires stopped the game, as the rain was coming down too hard to continue. Hughes was a third of an inning short of the bonus trigger. The rain delay lasted over an hour, which is too long for a pitcher to sit after having thrown almost a hundred pitches, so Hughes did not re-enter the game.

The pitcher was well aware of his bonus situation, but he did not push to be put back into the game. The team realized it too, and in a solid move meant to keep their player happy, team officials offered to let Hughes pitch out of the bullpen during one of the season’s final games in order to let him achieve the bonus threshold that he so clearly was going to reach had Mother Nature not intruded. Here is the part that baffles me, though: Hughes declined the offer. Yes, he said no to half a million dollars.

As I mentioned earlier, I initially thought this was actually a Good Sports story. Hughes isn’t a relief pitcher, and I guess he felt that going out there in a different role just to grab some cash was somehow a strike against his integrity. There are a bunch of problems with that. If the Twins were headed into the playoffs, I might understand it, as he wouldn’t want to risk injury doing something he doesn’t normally do, and he also wouldn’t want to risk messing up his team’s chances at something by shoehorning himself into an unfamiliar situation. None of that was the case, though. The Twins finished in last place and had no shot at the playoffs. He also would not have been trying to earn his bonus via some kind of bogus means; he was going to reach 210 innings if the rain had held off for a few more minutes.

I know Phil Hughes has made a lot of money in his career. $500,000 may seem like no big deal to him. It is a lot to almost everyone else, though. If he felt it would have appeared greedy to throw an inning in relief just to pick up the money, he could have donated it to a charity, used it to buy tickets for underprivileged kids, or even sent it to me. Any one of those things would have been better than leaving it in the hands of a very rich team just to appear noble.

Bad sports, continued:

2) I know that print journalism has changed an awful lot. Online, things get posted quickly and I guess some of the usual editorial processes get skipped. I know I have posted columns with typos more than a few times, despite my diligent proofreading. I am always surprised, though, when I see mistakes on websites from major media companies. What’s more amazing is how often people are posting things that get them in trouble when you know that the same mistake would likely not have made a print version of the same story. In this case, the Vancouver Sun published a picture of a post-goal celebration by some Canucks players after Jordan Subban scored a goal against the San Jose Sharks during a preseason game on Tuesday. The caption under the picture identified Subban, who is black, as the “dark guy in the middle.” No kidding. I assume someone is now out of a job.

3) Morris Claiborne, a cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys, did not take kindly to being told he would not be starting Sunday’s game against New Orleans. He was given the news on Tuesday, and he responded by leaving the facility in a huff and skipping practice. To make matters worse, Cliaborne injured his knee during the game against the Saints and is likely out for the year.

4) Lionel Messi, the star soccer player for Barcelona who some consider the best player in the world, was grabbed by the throat by Welington, a player for Malaga who goes by just one name, after brief contact between the two during a match on Wednesday. Welington received a yellow card for the infraction.

5) Jeff Taylor, a forward for the Charlotte Hornets, must be thinking he is an NFL player these days. He was arrested for domestic assault on Thursday. He has been suspended by the team pending the investigation.

6) Four softball players from North Central Texas College were killed and a bunch of others were injured when their bus was hit by a semi that crossed the median on a highway in Oklahoma on Friday.

7) Brady Hoke, whose hold on the job as the head coach of the University of Michigan football team was looking pretty tenuous even before they lost to Minnesota on Saturday, is really under fire after his team not only lost badly, but he also kept quarterback Shane Morris in the game despite the fact that the player appeared woozy after a big hit in the fourth quarter.

8) New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, who has shown maturity problems numerous times over the last couple of years, is apparently not over those issues yet. As he left the field on Sunday after a loss to the Detroit Lions during which numerous Jets fans were chanting for backup Michael Vick to play, Smith was caught on camera cursing out a fan. He later apologized during the team’s post-game press conference.

Good sports:

1) Sean Smith, a baseball player in the independent Atlantic League, stepped on first base awkwardly and tore his ACL after hitting a homerun on Friday. Knowing that he had to round the bases for the run to count, and knowing it was a playoff game, he bravely got up and hopped around the bases on one leg. He was mobbed by his teammates when he crossed the plate.

2) Washington Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmerman closed out his team’s regular season in style on Sunday, throwing a no-hitter against the Miami Marlins. Steven Souza Jr. saved the no-hitter with two outs in the ninth by making a fantastic diving catch of a drive by Christian Yelich. Check it out.

3) In one of those crummy ways to try to win an award for someone, the Houston Astros did not put Jose Altuve into the lineup for their final game of the season on Sunday. Altuve was leading the league in hitting with a .340 average going into the game, just ahead of Victor Martinez’ .337. The Astros thought Altuve’s chances were better if he sat for that game, but the player argued his way into the lineup. The tiny second baseman went 2 for 4 and finished the season with a .341 average, well more than enough to lead the league.

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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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: Phil Hughes misses a large bonus due to rain and a false sense of propriety”

  1. Hello, Alan … been a while since I’ve stopped in and commented … but that wreck that claimed the lives of those four student-athletes at NCTC has touched all of here, in community/junior colleges across Texas and Oklahoma. If I may use your space for a venue … several schools and individuals in the region have set up fundraisers for the families touched by that wreck … here is ours, set up by a member of the Midland College faculty … http://www.gofundme.com/f7npcc

    Thoughts and prayers are welcome, too.

  2. Thanks Jeff. Feel free. I endorse the effort.

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