For all the recent controversies regarding PEDs in baseball, errors in NFL officiating, and the race-fixing scandal of NASCAR, sports is a subject that always carries on.
The NASCAR fix: not a problem solved yet
NASCAR reacted, metaphorically speaking of course, violently to the race-fixing scandal that tarnished, allegedly, its last race before the Chase commenced. It promptly swapped out one driver for another, put two teams on probation for the remainder of the year (big whoop, right?), and added Jeff Gordon, the only real victim of the fix, who honestly deserved to get in anyway.
My frustration with this topic is that while NASCAR promptly instituted a new rule formally prohibiting such actions in the future, it did not have one to start with. I would have thought that a sport which took such pains to ensure that things worked out fairly would have already had something on the books to prevent teams from doing this. I mean, seriously, why can races still end on a yellow flag?
However, NASCAR did not handle the situation properly, because (a) it did not ensure that all races end on a competitive note, as opposed to everyone being stuck in one long boring line of cars, and (b) it did not really handle the problem. The problem is that teams, drivers, and owners will do anything to win. I know it’s a tough problem to handle. When a driver pushes his car to the limit, risking a tire blowout, running out of gas, and tailgating the opposition at 190 mph, that is exciting; that is what people pay, or tune into, to see. When two teams collude so that one of their guys makes the chase, it’s pathetic. Have the drive, pun intended, to win legitimately.
NASCAR needs to work to make sure that the only hard push being done is by the driver, not the crew chiefs asking each other for favors.
One last note: this got NASCAR more attention than it deserved, just in time for the Chase, what are the odds?
MLB: PEDs and that second damn wild card spot
Let’s get one thing out of the way: baseball in America is still dirty. Granted, it’s not as dirty as it was ten years ago, but it’s still dirty. The BioGenesis scandal, the suspensions, the massive PR disaster, all of this reminds us that these athletes will do anything to perform better, so as to make more money.
Onto the main topic: the second wild card spot was innovative last year. It forced a broader race for the playoffs, and actually resolved issues that hardcore baseball purists, like Bob Costas, had about the slot: no longer was the wild card winner automatically on an even field, they had to win their way in. Granted, the one-game series format blew up in their face with the Braves’ loss, but it was still one hell of a story.
So, now in year two of the new format: any thoughts, changes on attitude? Not from me, although I’ve tuned out baseball more this year to be fair. I’m looking forward to the Wild Card play-in games, which makes the playoffs that much more exciting from the start.