PDA

View Full Version : Running up the score



OldRightHander
03-21-2006, 11:36 PM
Seeing the scores of some recent high school basketball games got me to thinking about sportsmanship in general and how it is defined in different sports and at different levels, but specifically in baseball. In basketball you very well can't tell a team not to shoot the ball before the shot clock runs out, so I guess it comes down to the coach realizing at a certain stage of the game that he needs to call off the full court press and play the subs, but even then, the score could still get out of hand. We all can tell bad sportsmanship when we see it there. Likewise with football. If you're up by three touchdowns with a minute left and your opponent can't stop the clock, you don't throw for the end zone or send in your kicker for a field goal. Everyone understands where the line is drawn there and for the most part everyone agrees.

But is it so clear in baseball? I'll bring up an example from a game I attended a few years ago. The Reds were playing the Astros. I think it was getting late in the game, maybe around the 6th inning, and the Reds were up by about four runs at the time. I can't remember the exact score. There were runners on first and second and Ron Gant was on deck. The player at the plate (can't remember who) dropped a bunt down the third base line and the third baseman was playing so deep there was no play. It was a bunt hit and the bases were loaded. Gant then came up and hit a grand slam and the Reds ended up winning the game by seven or eight runs when all was said and done. The manager of the Astros made some comments after the game that the Reds were guilty of bad sportsmanship for trying to run up the score in that inning. When asked to clarify his remarks, he mentioned the bunt. It wasn't the grand slam that burned him up, but that the Reds bunted when they were up by a few runs already.

Now I was at that game and it was pretty obvious to me that the hitter was trying for a base hit with that bunt attempt. He didn't square up like he would for a sacrifice attempt. But let's say that he was trying to sacrifice the runners over. Most of us will agree that the sacrifice in that situation might increase your chances of scoring one run, but decrease your chances of a big inning, so why was the manager more furious with the bunt than he would have been had the batter hit a home run? Let's say for the sake of argument that the hitter had lined a hit to center field and then Gant followed up with a homer. The end result would have been the same, but lining a solid single up the middle would not have brought the ire of the opposing manager.

Since then I have heard from many baseball people that playing small ball with a big lead is bad sportsmanship, and there is a part of me that wants to agree with that, but the more I think about it, the more that attitude seems to come out of a flawed understanding of the game. We all know that in certain situations, small ball can increase your chances of scoring a run, and in situations where all that is needed is one run, it can be the way to go. So with that in mind, that seems to me to be that last thing you would want to do if you were wanting to run up the score on your opponent. It seems that you would want to employ a strategy that would maximize your chances of scoring multiple runs in an inning. If your opponent is trying to claw back into the game and you tack on one more run in the sixth inning, he still has a chance, but if you drop a four spot on him, you very well might have locked up the game.

I guess the problem people have is that if a team executes a small ball strategy in that situation, it appears that they were "trying" to score. So if a team just goes up there and swings the bat, they're not trying to score? Perhaps the only way you could not try to score would be to go up and purposefully strike out, but nobody is going to do that. I just find it somewhat humorous that if Adam Dunn bunted a guy over when the Reds were up by four runs, he would be chastised more than if he hit a three run homer in the same situation.

The final part of this little dilemna is the nature of the game today. What lead is safe in a game without a clock? I guess that all depends on the strength of your bullpen. Who among us has forgotten that debacle against the Cardinals last year? I guess my whole point is this. How do we define sportsmanship in baseball in regards to running up scores and how much of the general attitude comes out of an old school understanding of the game?

Cedric
03-21-2006, 11:37 PM
I don't think you can run up the score in this day and age. I would worry about winning the game over hurting anyone's feelings.

ajmlx9
03-21-2006, 11:45 PM
How about the game when the Pirates scored 9 runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Astros a few years back?

Running up the score in the pros doesn't hurt any of the players' feelings. Plus, if you have someone like Graves on your team, you need all the runs you can get.

HS BBall is a different story. NCH is a bunch of thugs, and their coach should understand that it isn't cool to beat someone by 80 points.

blumj
03-22-2006, 12:37 AM
A couple of years ago, the Red Sox played a game against the Marlins that got out of hand pretty quickly. The Red Sox won it with a score of something ridiculous like 28-6. After the game, McKeon *****ed about them running up the score and someone tagging up on a short fly(I actually think they were trying to get the runner thrown out), he even made some smartass remark about how he didn't know the Sox pitching was so bad, and Grady Little apologized to him. Well, the next night they played again, and the Red Sox had maybe a 5 or 6 run lead in the late innings, and Damon reached 1B, they weren't holding him on, but he never took 2B and the Red Sox didn't score. Then, the Sox pen blew the whole lead and the Marlins won the game. And that little World Series thingy, too. Point being: if they want you to stop scoring, they should try getting you out. And never apologize to the opposing team if they can't.

TeamBoone
03-22-2006, 11:49 AM
Of all people, I would think that the manager of the Astros would know that the momentum in baseball can change on a dime. A pitcher can go sour or have a bad day, whether that pitcher is the starter, a reliever, or the closer. The defense can become sluggish and/or the offense can go on a tear at any given time.

Even if he did bunt, so what? Why should a team change the way it plays the game just because it has what may appear to be a comfortable lead (and I wouldn't consider 4 runs comfortable... especially when the Reds are playing the Astros, or any team for that matter). If it was ten runs, maybe... but even that can be shattered in a heartbeat (as we all know).

Baseball is a different breed, and you'd think a baseball guy would know that.

RBA
03-22-2006, 11:52 AM
With the Reds pitching, no lead is safe.

redsmetz
03-22-2006, 11:54 AM
I don't think you can run up the score in this day and age. I would worry about winning the game over hurting anyone's feelings.

Even in the pre 'roids era, I wouldn't be comfortable with only a four run lead. One swing and you're tied. I think the Astros manager was just crying.

WMR
03-22-2006, 11:55 AM
In soccer, once your team is leading by 10 goals it is considered almost against the laws of the game to go up by 11.

scounts22
03-22-2006, 11:58 AM
Of all people, I would think that the manager of the Astros would know that the momentum in baseball can change on a dime. A pitcher can go sour or have a bad day, whether that pitcher is the starter, a reliever, or the closer. The defense can become sluggish and/or the offense can go on a tear at any given time.

Even if he did bunt, so what? Why should a team change the way it plays the game just because it has what may appear to be a comfortable lead (and I wouldn't consider 4 runs comfortable... especially when the Reds are playing the Astros, or any team for that matter). If it was ten runs, maybe... but even that can be shattered in a heartbeat (as we all know).

Baseball is a different breed, and you'd think a baseball guy would know that.

Well said, I agree with you.

An example of poor sportsmanship in the bigs would be being up by 10 runs in the 9th and putting in your best closer instead of bringing in someone who might need a little work. I don't think that happens too often, but that would be one case I could think of.

Chip R
03-22-2006, 12:00 PM
I think when MLB teams complain about this - especially the manager - they are mainly using it as motivation for their team.

RedsManRick
03-22-2006, 12:05 PM
Running up the score in baseball in BS. You are a bunch of professionals and are expect to do your best at all times. If you stink so bad that a team is beating you by a large margin, you should be embarrased for yourself, not mad at them. This isn't amateur sports where some teams are just insanely better than others because of structural problems in the system --- or little league where one coach got to hand pick his squad from the best players in the city. This isn't football where you can just take a knee and run out the clock. The are a finite number of outs and until those outs are made, no lead is insurmountable. Just because your players are having a bad day, doesn't mean the other team should go easy on you.

Sure, if you're winning 19-1, you probably don't need to steal a base. But if you do, godo for you. The same should apply to perfect game situations; the opponent's job is not to make you look good. Deal with it.

TeamBoone
03-22-2006, 12:33 PM
The same should apply to perfect game situations; the opponent's job is not to make you look good. Deal with it.

Oh man, I couldn't agree with you more on this one.

Anybody remember the game when the opposing pitcher was going for a no-hit game (can't remember who) and Freel went for a bunt single? Man!

The team (?) and the pitcher were all over that to the media after the game, forgetting that the Reds were actually trying to win a baseball game, not hand the no-hitter over on a silver platter.

If I remember correctly (and maybe I don't), the opposing team was not up a ton of runs.

A pitcher should definitely earn that no-hit game. His failure to do so should not be blamed on an opposing player who manages to get a hit FOR HIS TEAM, rather than not trying to do so FOR THE OTHER TEAM.

What crap!

WMR
03-22-2006, 12:39 PM
On a somewhat related note, I thought it was incredibly lame when they let that Senior girl who played basketball and got a season-ending injury was allowed to hobble onto the court and become her school or country (I can't remember which)'s leading scorerer while the opposing team stood idly by.

Lame.

OldRightHander
03-22-2006, 04:27 PM
I guess one of my points is that in baseball, you will hear complaints of bad sportsmanship if a team plays a bit of small ball with a big lead, but you would never hear criticism if that same team just bombed away and ran the score up with long balls. It seems somewhat silly, or shows an old school understanding of the game, to be upset by a strategy that limits the scoring of the offensive team. If you're going to be upset about a team running the score up, do so if that team is swinging for the fences, not if they're bunting and stealing. Anyway, I really don't think baseball is the same as other sports that have a clock. You never know what your bullpen will do, so you should go up there every at bat and do your best until 27 outs are recorded.