Friday, August 11, 2006

When is it unethical to intentionally walk a batter?

Ok, it's bottom of the 9th, two outs, your team is ahead 3-2. There is a runner on third. At bat, the other team's best hitter. On deck, the worst hitter. Do you:

A) Try to strike him out?

B) Intentionally walk him?

C) Bean the sucker in the head?

Answer: B - You don't want to pitch to him, he'll get a hit and win the game. You don't want to bean him, if you miss that could mean the tying run steals home. It's simple. You walk him and take your chances with the other team's worst hitter.

Now let's change the situation up a little bit. Let's say you have the exact same situation, but it involves 10 year-olds playing in their league's championship game. And lets pretend just for fun, that the batter on deck that will hit if you walk their best hitter just happens to be recovering from cancer. What do you do in that situation? Do you still tell your pitcher go for the intentional walk?

Needless to say, the poor Dad who was the coach of that team did just that. He saw the best hitter walk to the mound, the cancer survivor in the on deck circle, and he went for the win. Part of me thinks that's horrible, part of me wonders if I wouldn't have done the same thing.


At 8/11/2006 01:11:00 PM,

In the coach's defense, he said he didn't even know (or really care) who was in the on-deck circle - he was just walking their best hitter. (I tend to believe him as how detailed could his opposition scouting report have been?)

There are no visible signs that the poor kid who struck out was a cancer survivor (check out the photos at the KSL article). Just an unfortunate circumstance.

That being said, KSL's poll overwhelmingly support walking the hitter (1,258 votes to 146).Juding by their comments, however, the voters do sound like some crazy monkeys.

How 'bout this twist:

If you're the coach of the losing team, would you put in a pinch hitter for the cancer boy?

At 8/11/2006 01:29:00 PM,

Think of it the other way Taylor. At least this way cancer-boy gets a 100% chance to have the time of his life playing baseball (and with 2 runners on base); whereas if you pitch to the other kid, he might not even get a chance to hit. I think the coach was being rather nice to the boy.

At 8/11/2006 01:37:00 PM,

this gets Dumbest Ethical Dilemma of the Week Award.

Obviously you walk the batter. Don't give the cancer survivor special treatment; that undermines his status as a cancer survivor. If he's in the game at this point, he's in the game to PLAY, he's ready to move on with life. Don't treat him as "weak." My brother played baseball as a cancer survivor, with a mask on because his immune system was still suppressed, and if he found out someone was trying to do him favors, he would have clocked them.

At 8/11/2006 02:14:00 PM,

Sheldon - your bubble-boy brother played baseball with a steril mask?

What part of your life is NOT made-for-TV?

At 8/11/2006 02:17:00 PM,

I second Sheldon and this one. I'm a freaking "bleeding-heart" liberal and I even say walk the batter... it's baseball. Geez.

At 8/11/2006 02:45:00 PM,

Amen Marc (and Sheldon). I'm more worried about cancer-boy's dad:

"What are we teaching our kids? Are we teaching them that it's okay to pick on the weakest person?"


"It's about going up against the weakest player, and getting the weakest player out."

No wonder this kid lacked the self-confidence to get a hit.

At 8/11/2006 02:51:00 PM,

Doug - my brother prefers not to be called "bubble boy" now that he is no longer immunosuppressed. he was "bubble man" or "bubble young adult." And what part of my life IS made for TV? I mean aside from the bubble brother? and the other brother who once barricaded his family into their home while he constructed vampire-protection devices in a three-day hallucination?

But back to baseball... Look, if this kid is strong enough for his doctors to say "you can play in a baseball game" then he is FINE, I guarantee you. Those oncologists are so freaking paranoid, you have NO IDEA. At this point in this kids life, the last thing he needs is another person treating him like he's a WUSS and SICK, when his PARANOID docs have FINALLY DECIDED he is NOT SICK. That's my final thought.

At 8/11/2006 02:54:00 PM,

So here's a question... how would everyone be reacting had he knocked in the winning run?

At 8/11/2006 03:01:00 PM,

that's easy, marc Autistic hoops star we'd be applauding the coach for being like the coach who gave this kid a chance to play the game... or the coach in Rudy... what if Rudy had gotten pummeled, and broken his neck (as he well should have) or if the autistic basketball player had missed every single shot?

At 8/11/2006 03:18:00 PM,

I'm with everyone else, I also think that if this kid is really that bad at baseball the coach should have put in a pinch hitter. That is just the way it is, as someone who has spent his whole life striving to be mediocre at sports I think that I can say that it is okay to do what gives you the best chance to win, especially if it was the championship game. I know for the most part when the game was on the line I was not likely to be in the line up, I was okay with that.

I guess there is an age when it is more about just playing, that is why in most leagues with younger kids there is some kind of minimum that every kid has to play, but if that was not the case here then I don't see a problem.

At 8/11/2006 03:24:00 PM,

I think the whole thing is getting press because the kid's first name is ROMNEY and because the story has two other great story words in it, BASEBALL and CANCER.

So the media thinks, hmm... BASEBALL, CANCER, ROMNEY... put all those search terms together!!! you have a winning story!!!

At 8/11/2006 03:30:00 PM,

It is also interesting to note that it is the father that is complaining. The kid just said that he liked baseball and was having fun. typical

At 8/11/2006 03:36:00 PM,

Here's what the kid, Romney, had to say:

The next morning, Romney woke up and decided to do something about what happened to him.

"I'm going to work on my batting," he told his dad. "Then maybe someday I'll be the one they walk."

At 8/11/2006 03:37:00 PM,

i think romney's mummy and daddy could use a dose of his responsibility medicine, wherever he gets it from. i like this kid.

At 8/11/2006 04:16:00 PM,

First observation: Everyone must have concluded their summer internships because this is the most blog activity I've seen in a while.

Second observation: The coach knew who was on deck. You don't walk a great hitter to put the winning run on base unless you know you've got a sure thing up next.

Third observation: Sheldon, more and more I realize that you had a much more exciting childhood than I had. Vampireproofing sounds fun.

Fourth observation: Did anyone see the King of the Hill episode where Bill's football record was broken by the kid with the broken leg? Same dilemma.

Fifth observation: I don't think it is every 100% fun to be the last out in a baseball game. Been there way to may times (high-five to striving for mediocrity)it always sucks.

Sixth Observation: I would have coached my team for the victory as well.

At 8/11/2006 06:12:00 PM,

I have to say I agree with the coach here. I believe in playing to win. That doesn't mean I believe winning is everything. Playing sports means dealing with winning and dealing with loosing a game. If a child is well enought to play in a game, and a championship game at that then the fact remains you just may end up in that position that the game rests on your shoulders.

As I understand it correctly, not only was the best batter up, but there was 1 player on 3rd, meaning a run was pretty much guaranteed if the boy hits the ball.

I have to say I never would have thought of intentionally walking a player, but I guess it is a strategy that works or it wouldn't be done. 

Posted by Tigersue

At 8/12/2006 04:17:00 PM,

Someday we need to sit down with Sheldon and have him tell us stories about his past. I think we could all combine to write a pretty dang-cool biography. Hey, I'd buy it, I'd read it... and I'd submit the story to Spielberg for a movie.

At 8/12/2006 09:42:00 PM,

This is a threadjack!! Back to the baseball discussion!!

At 8/13/2006 11:37:00 AM,


To take over the content of a message thread by changing the subject of discourse to a topic outside the purview of the original subject and/or forum, while maintaining the subject line. A form of amusement for trolls. Threadjacking is distinguished from flaming, as flames are a quasi-personal attack on a poster or on a poster's style of discourse, where threadjacking is deliberatly steering the discussion offtopic.

Now on to Baseball discussion- a recent article from the SL Trib:

Romney Oaks 'issue' missed an opportunity
This letter pertains to the incidents involving Romney Oaks and his Little League experience. I am extremely dismayed at the amount of attention this "issue" is getting. What is wrong with walking the strongest hitter in a game to try for a win? Does this coach not owe it to his own players to put them in the best position to win? What if Romney didn't have cancer? Would there be an ounce of outrage, other than from the opposing coaches and fans?
This could have been an opportunity to teach all of these kids not only to work harder so opposing teams don't want to face them, but it should have been used to teach the strategy of baseball to all. When I was a 10-year-old in Little League, an opposing coach walked a girl to pitch to me. Was I offended? Sure. Guess what I did? I got mad and delivered a game-winning double. I am also a better person for the experience.
And as for Romney's dad? You don't want your son to be different, but you're out in the press making a spectacle of him by even talking about this non-event. You should be ashamed for making your son out to be different than the rest.
This was a great opportunity for you to teach your son that you can't win every time, and that sometimes you may be the goat, but other times you will be the hero.
Of course, this whole debacle is a microcosm of our take-no-responsibility culture. Everything is always someone else's fault, and shame on the rest of the world for not letting me succeed.
Canton, Mich.

At 8/13/2006 11:44:00 AM,

you know what my suspicion is? the other coach but the kid with cancer behind the strongest hitter because he thought the other coach would never DARE walk the strongest hitter and strikeout the cancer kid. He intentionally placed that kid there in the batting order, as a STRATEGY to get some "pity" points, and it BACKFIRED. So the only difference between the two coaches, in my mind, is that the winning coach was a better strategist.

At 8/13/2006 11:45:00 AM,

plus, i wanted to get these comments to reach 20. whoo-hoo! LYMA lives!

At 8/13/2006 04:38:00 PM,


What is this Threadjacking stuff? To respond in your own style:

1. I was NOT attempting to "take over the content of the message thread" (unlike now) by making my comment.

2. It wasn't "outside the purview of the original subject" in that Sheldon's past experiences have significant bearing on the issue we are discussing (as made evident by his comments making up over 1/2 of the content for this post). That isn't to say that this is unusual, however, because that is the case with EVERY post (but then again, I'm sure Sheldon's past experiences have had significant bearing on everything so far anyway -- hence the reason we should make a movie). See, all ties in.

3. I reject being designated a 'troll'. Trolls are hideous, ugly monsters that live under bridges. I live in a very nice apartment in the city.

4. I obviously do not fall under the definition of "threadjacking" (until this comment) because I was not "deliberately steering the discussion offtopic." If anything, my actions were unintentional (again, until this comment) and a result of previous posts.

4b. YOU yourself brought up the issue when you commented: "Third observation, Sheldon more and more I realize..." If anything, my comment was EXACTLY within the purview of the author's intented discussion, because I was merely building on this.

5. We actually have Doug Spencer to blame for creating the idea of "made-for-TV." He's the threadjacker.... and a troll.

6. Just because Sheldon labels something a threadjack doesn't make it so. I mean he's not always 100% right... in everything.. he... ok, so it does make it true. Dang it, ok, you win.

(Sigh - I miss school)

At 8/14/2006 10:10:00 AM,

Chill dude! I didn't know what threadjacking was when Sheldon posted it. Figured some of you out in LYMA didn't know either so I copied a definition from the internet. No evil intended, just thought it was informative.

I let my in-laws all weigh in on the subject last night and they were all appaled that the coach directed an intentional walk. I think people's opinions differ if they have played sports or not.

I having been a crappy little league player see no problem with the walk.

At 8/14/2006 12:45:00 PM,

Haha, no animosity intended on this side either, Taylor. (It was more directed at Sheldon anyway) ;)

I happen to agree with you in your position on this discussion, despite my complete inability as a child to get a hit in any baseball game.

At 8/16/2006 02:43:00 AM,

I've been called worse things than a troll. Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if Sheldon was raised by trolls, or spoke Troll, or knew the guy who invented Troll braille.

Even if he didn't, it would make the movie better.

The hypothetical baseball situation is still a tricky conundrum. But I think what really happened is much less controversial. The coach said he didn't know about the boy's cancer. He just knew the kid was a poor batter.

If you take cancer out of the equation, the coach's actions would appear acceptable to almost everybody. Throwing in the hypothetical, "what if you knew the boy had cancer" line is interesting for debate in an ethics class, but shouldn't be used against the coach who couldn't see the brain shunt keeping the boy alive. Nor did he know the boy's father was such a poor loser.

At 8/21/2006 05:35:00 PM,

The guys at ESPN Radio, where I heard this story, have the correct take: if there's blame to be had, it's with the coach of the cancer survivor's team. Don't give the other coach the choice -- protect your best hitter by putting a decent hitter behind him. 

Posted by Bryce I




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