Category Archives: Tampa Bay

The stupidest rules in sports

Rays BJ Upton hit a 200 foot homerun off Kyle Drabek this week, prompting Write Fielders to look at some stupid sports rules.

STRADER: After watching Kyle Drabek suffer the fate of a legendary BJ Upton homerun in his last start, I started to wonder, what are the stupidest rules in sports?

For those who didn’t see it, Drabek got Upton to fly out. Yep. Fly out. It was high, lame, and ready to be caught by Colby Rasmus. Camped under it, Rasmus all of a sudden looked shocked, and struggled to react as the ball plopped to the ground 10 to 15 feet beside him. It was in a dome, and it wasn’t the old Metrodome. For a few moments, even the TV commentators couldn’t figure out what was going on.

And then, it came to light (nice pun, huh?). There are catwalks, gangplanks whatever you want to call them, dangling from the rook of Tropicana Coliseum. They aren’t high enough to be completely out of the way of fly balls, and in a moment of genius, someone in the MLB offices simply decided to steal a page from SkeeBall. Hit a particular ring, and it’s a double. Hit another, a triple, and strike the one Upton struck, and you get to do a homerun trot for what was a 300 foot flyout to centre.

Disgusting? For a stats geek, yes. Upton should be minus one, and so should Drabek’s ERA. They both know it.

Stupid. Definitely.

So I’m going to list my top five stupidest rules in sports (okay, two to six, cause Tropicana’s roof wins top spot), and hope that some of our readers and tweeters will add in their own.

Deciding an elimination game on penalty kicks

I will admit, watching Liverpool beat Milan in 2005 was one of the most exciting sporting matches I’ve ever watched. But are you kidding me? Deciding the Champions League, the World Cup on penalty kicks? Footballers across the world need to rise up against this one (Don’t riot! I’m not inciting riot!  How about just a nice letter writing campaign?). It’s idiotic. Can you imagine the Stanley Cup awarded after a shootout? The World Series after a homerun derby?

The intentional walk

I’ve always hated it. I understand it, and you should be able to decide you’re going to walk a guy, but I paid to watch you pitch. So pitch. If the dips—t wants to swing at stuff off the plate, let him swing. But to have the catcher stand up, and just dance to the side while you lob balls. Come on. Who was it a few years back who took the swing at one that was just too close and got a hit? I believe it was Miguel Cabrera? Genius, pure genius.

Disqualifying a golfer for an unsigned scorecard

It’s a game of honour. We punish ourselves, and we don’t cheat – at least stand up guys don’t cheat. This is the dumbest thing in the sport outside of most of Phil Mickelson’s decisions. Some player completes a gruelling 18-hole round, in 30-35 degree heat, while spending the entire day focused on the leaderboard, their shot making, the 50,000 people standing right beside their ball, they forget to sign their card, and you’re going to take a major from them? Honour should only go so far. This is stupid.

Boxing scoring

Anybody who has been on a playground knows how to score a fight. Who has ever watched their buddy duke it out with a bully, helped him up after getting his ass kicked and said, “Don’t worry about it man, it was close, I had you at 108-105.”

The double fault

In that it shouldn’t exist. “Oops, sorry. Haha. I know, I’ve been practicing that for about 15 years, but let me try again, ok?”

Give me a break.

Field goal kickers everywhere unite.

So, these are mine.

What are yours?

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It’s a numbers game

After eight years of waiting, and some 3,710 minor league at-bats, Rich Thompson made his way back to the majors. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

McGILLIGAN: Baseball is a game of numbers.

Often times it’s the numbers we look to for an explanation as to why a play happened or who is best suited to pitch or hit in a given scenario.

We use numbers to determine greatness, justify rooting for one player over another or as a way to delve even deeper into a game we love and will never stop calculating.

Sometimes the numbers reveal something you never thought they could. Take for instance 2,944 and 3,710.

Heading into play on Wednesday night, those numbers were a representation of the perseverance and dedication it took Rich Thompson of the Tampa Bay Rays to get back to the major leagues after his first and only plate appearance on April 20, 2004 with the Kansas City Royals.

2,944 was the numbers days between his major league appearances which officially ended when Thompson pinch ran for Luke Scott in the Rays 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox.

3,710 was the number of minor league at-bats he took before returning to MLB.

A great story to be sure, but one that got even better Thursday with two smaller numbers – 1 and 2. In Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, Thompson was in the starting lineup and hit ninth for the Rays. In his second plate appearance in the fourth inning, Thompson singled for his first major league hit and RBI as Sean Rodriguez scored on the play. But Thompson wasn’t done, he made the most of his time on the base paths by stealing both second and third base in the inning.

Of all the numbers used in baseball, it’s hard to imagine any combination could have summed up Thompson’s effort on Thursday.

Now he’s got a new number to worry about, extending his major league hitting streak to two games.

(NOTE: the numbers 2,944 and 3,710 are courtesy of an article on Yahoo! Sports by Kevin Kaduk)

Andre Ethier and Matt Joyce two big surprises in young season

Andre Ethier is benefiting from Matt Kemp's Superman start to the season - and if it continues, he could be one of the biggest surprises of the season come September.

McGILLIGAN: This season has been full of surprises. It’s May and the Baltimore Orioles are still playing well, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim look terrible and none of the early season favourites – the exception being the Texas Rangers – look like the teams everyone expected them to be.

I know it’s early, but here are two players having surprising seasons that aren’t getting a lot of talk for different reasons.

The first is outfielder Andre Ethier. While he’s a been a solid major leaguer for several years, he’s off to a great start in 2012. While his solid play is not shocking, the tiny amount of fanfare its received is.

With Matt Kemp playing like Clark Kent’s alter ego, Ethier has been in the shadows hitting in the slot behind Kemp. Ethier is benefiting from Kemp’s great start, but has also played an intricate role in it. His ability to drive in runs means pitchers simply can’t intentionally walk Kemp because Ethier will burn them. His average with runners in scoring position this season is .391. He’s also amassed the National League’s second most RBI with 24, just one behind Kemp.

Ethier is on pace to break his personal best season of 2009 when he lit up NL pitching with a .272 batting average, 31 home runs and 106 RBI.  If it weren’t for the all-world numbers of Kemp, it’s likely more people would be raving about Ethier’s play.

If the Dodgers keep on winning, is possible the Kemp-Ethier combination might become the most formidable in NL and MLB this season.

The second surprising start of the year is outfielder Matt Joyce of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Hitting .294 with five homeruns and 9 RBI, Joyce has been a revelation in Tampa. Having never got a chance for a full season of steady at bats, Joyce mashed the ball when he got his opportunity this season. However, the return of BJ Upton to the lineup and Joyce’s career struggles against left-handing pitching will see him ride the pine when the Rays face a southpaw.

Far be it for me to question Joe Maddon, the guy is one of the best managers in the game, but how does a guy ever get better at hitting left-handers if he doesn’t face them. Joyce’s career numbers are not good versus lefties (.198 in 162 at bats). But he’s only faced a lefty in 15 percent of MLB at bats.

The Rays have a potential break out star on their hands, maybe an everyday outfielder in the making, but he won’t get to that stage without letting him learn against MLB-calibre left-handers.

*All numbers current as of 8 a.m. EST

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