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!

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How long!

The thing with many sports over here, is that we can settle for a draw, a team doesnt have to win every time they play. Indeed with football, that can be a blessing at times, as some games I’ve had the misfortune to see at work would probably end up 0-0 if they played for 3 days. Of course in cricket, they do play for 3,4 or even 5 days, and the game still ends up a draw.

But over in the good old USA, they dont go in for draws, or not if they can really help it. Well, alright, in soccer they do, but otherwise…The NFL can have a regular season tie, but only after an extra 15 minute period when neither team scores, and yes, they are pretty rare. In the play offs, they do carry on until there is a winner, but even then, one period of overtime is usually enough.

The NHL has one period of overtime, but after that they go into a sudden death shootout to get a result, they dont go on forever. The NBA does continue with overtime periods until a winner is found, but the nature of scoring here tends to get a result in 1, at most, 2 periods of overtime.

But then we come to Baseball. Last night, just after 6 pm, I got home, and ESPN America were just about to start showing Texas playing at Toronto. When I went to bed, at 10.50 pm, they were still playing, at the end of the 15th innings. At that point I gave up, but its still the most innings of baseball I’ve ever seen in a single game. They finally decided it after 18 innings apparently. The thing is, it wasnt even the longest game of the day, Miami and the NY Mets went a mind numbing 20 innings before a winner was decided. Seriously, is the need for a winner really that great? Both of those are the equivalent of 2 normal games, or more!

And seriously, no, they are nowhere near the record for the longest game, that stands, and will probably always stand at 33 innings, back in 1981, between Pawtucket and Rochester, two teams I actually saw play a normal length game back in April. That did stretch to two nights, but 32 innings were played on the first night, play ending at 4.19 am!

So, in tribute to the MLB, and its desire for a winner in every game, I offer…