Baseball writer Peter Gammons took a look at the hockey fight in Vancouver Saturday and declared, via Twitter, that the scrap and Canuck coach John Tortorella's attempted run at Calgary coach Bob Hartley, shows NHL hockey as a "minor" sport.
Minor? The first thing that comes to mind is the more than 100,000 fans at Michigan Stadium for the Winter Classic on January 1st. That and the increase in fan support the NHL has achieved since the lock-out last year. Further, the NHL has 30 teams with at least as many doing as well financially as are baseball franchises.
Bench-clearing baseball brouhahas
A fight makes it minor? What about those goofy mound-meetings baseball often has? How about Larry Brooks' tweet that pointed out that baseball's Carlos Quentin charged the mound and broke the collarbone of Zach Greinke last April, leading to a series of events that included a manager and threats. So then is hockey minor because a coach lost his cool and ranted in a hallway? How about Yankee basecoach Don Zimmer going after Pedro Martinez in the 2003 ALCS? One of the more minor/bush moves in sports history.
Does parity make the NHL minor? With a salary cap the NHL has created great battles for the postseason, with most teams competing. In MLB, with no salary cap, you have teams that spend in excess of $150 million (the New York Yankees and L.A. Dodgers spent over $200 million on salary in 2013) while other clubs aren't able to hit the $50 million mark. The Yankees and Boston Red Sox are in the postseason almost every season but the Kansas City Royals haven't made it in 28 years.
Does the absurd length of a baseball game make it major? The schedule of 162 games, does that make it major? The fact is that in baseball many teams are realistically out of the postseason race by the time they're 20 games into the season and fans have to endure 140 or so meaningless and overlong games.
That's a bad thing, Peter.
And then we have the steroid issue. Next to cycling, baseball is the sport that has let down its fans the most with steroids. Performance Enhancing Drugs are still in the game and thanks to PEDs the game's history is almost as tarnished as the reputation of Lance Armstrong.
Further, it seems impossible for them to get a grip on punishing the worst offenders, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds come to mind. Not only that but Clemens and Bonds hold some of baseball's dearest records and yet cheated to obtain them (a cheater, Bonds, is the MLB home-run king). How does that give it a higher status than hockey?
Mr. Gammons might have a rep as a baseball writer but he needs to be more circumspect when he's trashing other sports. If the excitement of hockey, the incredible speed of an NHL game, leads to more emotions than the dullness of baseball, and therefore more fights, so be it. That doesn't make it any less professional.
Just a few minor points, Peter.
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