The winner has to take it all?

I must admit, as someone who was brought up around cricket, and soccer, the idea of a draw, at the end of a sporting match just seems natural to me. However, when it comes to US sports, it seems the concept of a draw, at the end of a match, seems a complete anathema to them. Yes, fine, in knock out competitions in the sports listed above, and seemingly nowadays, at the end of that ghastly 20 over form of cricket, a winner is needed, but at other times, its fine for the game to end as a draw.

Of the ‘Big 4’ American Sports, the only one nowadays that can even theoretically have a draw, is the NFL. And that only after a 15 minute overtime period, so they dont happen all that often. The other 3, there must be a winner. Basketball just plays overtime periods until there is a winner, Ice Hockey goes to a shootout after overtime, until a winner is decided, and Baseball, well, the match just goes on forever, until there is finally a winner!

At least with Ice Hockey, and team losing beyond the standard 60 minutes, gets a consolation point for its efforts. The other 3, well you might as well have been thumped in the standard period, you get nothing! And last night, 3 baseball matches went on, well, forever! The amusing thing, I’ve got to see the recorded version of 2 of them today, albeit cut, to keep them within the 3 to 3.5 hour range for viewers. The ironic thing, the longest one, the game in Washington, playing Minnesota which lasted a marathon 16 innings, is the one I havent seen.

Next in the order of dragging things out, was the game between Pittsburgh, and Arizona. It lasted 13 innings, and basically, both teams ran out of players. Indeed, Arizona ended up with a pitcher playing in left field at the end, had completely ran out of available bodies. Not helped by the fact that one of their players got ejected (sent off), but even so…Not helped by the fact that being a National League game, players get substituted quite often towards the end, anyway. I assume the same happened in Washington, though as I havent seen that one, so?

The last one, which at 12 innings, was the, err, shortest, was the American League game at Houston, against Boston. Still lasted more than 5 hours, mind!

All this, because American sports seemingly must have a winner! Funnily enough, no, I’ve never yet been to a Baseball game that went to overtime, phew! Of course, none of this gets close to the longest baseball game, a mere 33 innings! The longest MLB game, 26 innings! And the latter still didnt produce a winner, it was in the days before floodlights (1920), and darkness ended the game! 25 is the longest, with a result!

Baseball, I love you, but seriously…

OK, the video. What seemingly has to be the case, in so many American sports!

The Non All Star Game

For whatever reason, the concept of all star games have never caught on, over here in the UK. Possibly because building them into the relevant sports schedule isnt going to happen, mainly because of the vast demands of TV, and managers who would have hissy fits if their players got hurt in such games. The closest I can think of to it, is the intermittent cases of the odd Lancashire v Yorkshire rugby league games, but even they have pretty much died out since we entered the Super League era, because no one wants to play twice in a week, and Sky dont want a dead weekend with only 1 game being played.

But in the US, all 4 of the biggest sports have an all star game. The baseball one, pretty much everyone selected turns up, possibly because there isnt a great deal of physical contact in that game. Yes, they sometimes have a coming together off the bench, to discuss things, but generally, not much contact, even then, other than verbal. In a sense, its the most important one, as its the only one that decides where the final series will be played (who gets the extra home game), but even then, players dont seem to play it too hard, its for fun.

I’ll be honest, I have no idea if players turn up for the basketball one, or not, I really dont follow the sport all that much. But yes, this weekend, the other 2 sports have their big night, and its these which have caught my eye this week.

The NHL, it seems from what I’ve read, generally have pretty much all their non injured players turn up. But what caught my eye this week, was 2 players pulling out of the All Star series, through ‘injuries’. Now, they might genuinely have been injured in the last moments of their last club games, but seriously…? Even the clubs admitted it was more so their players were rested up for their club matches next week, but…surprise, surprise, the NHL fought back. Both players will miss their first club match after all star weekend, regardless of whether they were really injured or not. If they are, it doesnt matter. If they arent, then, quite rightly, the clubs are being punished.

But yes, the ‘are you serious?’ prize has to go to the NFL, and their Pro Bowl this Sunday. More than a third of the originally selected players, arent playing! Yes, a few are injured, and some are involved in the Super Bowl next weekend, but all the rest…?

For example, despite not going to the big match, no Patriot player is taking part in the game, despite 7 of them being selected. Numerous other players have conveniently got ‘injured’ since the end of the regular season too, quite something!

I’ll be honest, the people I feel most sorry for, are the fans who’ve bought tickets for the games, expecting to see the biggest names, and they wont! I do wonder if a few of these players, if they knew it would mean sitting out the first game of next season, would suddenly become available? Hmm?

To be fair, I see most of these sort of games as pretty meaningless, so maybe its time they were stopped? I’m sure they could find another way to decide who gets the extra home game in the Baseball world series, team that won the most games in regular season, maybe?

Anyway, rant over.

The video. What some might say when they hear that player X has pulled out of their respective all star game?