Players across the sports spectrum seem to be feeling their oats the
past couple weeks. The Lakers-Rockets NBA series has turned into a
brawl and baseball has seen several ejections and suspensions handed
down over the last several days. Are we seeing the effects of over (or
under) officiating or are players really more on edge these days?
Suspensions, brawls, warnings, headhunters, beanballs, ejections… these are all integral tenets of the sports we love. Without them, the stakes would be as dramatic as an afternoon pinochle tournament at your local retirement home (and even those can turn violent without proper supervision).
Personally, I could care less about what the Los Angeles Lakers of Los Angeles are fighting about with the Houston Rockets (those are basketball teams, right?). But perennial crybaby and major league fire-starter Milton Bradley? Foot-in-mouth Bobby Jenks? Two-packs-a-day Jimmy Leyland?
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Indeed, the cast of characters may change from year to year, but the subtle game of intimidating your opponent and firing up your team with guts, fists and butt-busting fastballs hasn’t. Ty Cobb anyone?
No matter what the era, baseball players have always found a harmonious balance of edge and competitiveness. When your livelihood is on the line, you bet you’re gonna go out and stand up for yourself. Those who don’t… well, they end up like Mr. Krause, pushing pencils and checking email forty times a day.
Now I don’t propose an increase to the level of violence on the field; but hell, don’t peel it back. I need that respite of poorly timed right hooks (see Shields v. Crisp, 2008), knee-buckling vengeance (see Bradley v. The World, 2007) and knuckles-to-skull contact (see Ryan v. Ventura, 1993). Anyone who says he/she doesn’t is a liar.
Baseball does not suffer from under or over officiating. It’s doing just fine the way it is. Fights, ejections, suspensions… they’re all just a part of the game. When it becomes bedlam…
… well, then we might have to reevaluate.
Until then, just keep on hating me. But don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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