First of all, I’m all for integrity and fairness in sports, but not when they are used as an excuse for losing.
These examples happen in all professional sports, but I’ll concentrate on the sport about to begin its second season, Major League Baseball. All but one division has been decided. The Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers have made it from the National League; the Brewers sealed the NL wildcard with another Mets collapse. In the American League, the Rays and Angels have won their respective divisions, the Red Sox have locked up the AL wildcard, and the White Sox and Twins will play a tiebreaker for the AL Central Division on Tuesday (correction: if the White Sox beat the Tigers today).
Most seem content with the playoff eligibility process, save for one blowhard. New York Yankees Senior Vice President, Hank Steinbrenner, is turning out to be a bigger jerk than his father, sealing my continued distaste towards the team in pinstripes for the foreseen future.
Last week, Steinbrenner decried that the MLB playoff system, where division winners are guaranteed entry in the postseason, is unfair.
The biggest problem is the divisional setup in major league baseball. I didn’t like it in the 1970s, and I hate it now. Baseball went to a multidivision setup to create more races, rivalries and excitement. But it isn’t fair.
This is easily a ‘sour grapes’ moment as the Yankees will be left watching the chase for the World Series from home, thanks to the bad management decisions they have made. Others have also pointed out that Steinbrenner is a pretty big hypocrite for making the complaint now.
Not fair? Please. Every major sport has divisions, which are geographically based and allow for teams from each area of the country the chance to compete for a championship. Equal opportunity is a good thing, except for those whose chances of winning is greatly increased by their ability to spend money without consequence. The business of sports is better served with the way the playoff system is set up. Steinbrenner needs to shut his mouth and stop being an idiot.
Integrity of the Game?
In the heat of closing playoff races, Marlins manager, Fredi Gonzalez, insisted that he’d play his regular players in the final series of the season against the New York Mets for the “integrity of the game.”
This is all fine and dandy with me. Being a Nationals fan, I find solace, albeit not a lot, in rooting for my team to play the spoiler. Too bad they were too busy failing, and got swept by the Phillies.
On the other hand, Cubs manager, Lou Piniella, publicly stated that he was going to rest some of his players having clinched a playoff spot. Is this to insinuate that Piniella has no integrity for the game of baseball? Hopefully not. Piniella has endured some criticism for this move, all of it is unjust.
The ultimate goal in sports is to win. Winning brings glory and dollars. So, whether a contender risks playing its players when it does not matter, or if a team with no chance decides to take a look-see at next year’s prospects over playing regular starters when it matters to the opponent….neither has anything to do with the integrity of the game. It’s all about the choices a franchise has the right to make in order to benefit themselves, in a manner they see fit, in the business of sports.