Star Unfairness

Roy Halladay pitchers for the first time at Rogers Centre in a Phillies Uniform

Being unable to challenge our current beliefs. It’s a black mark on our society. We continually accept things because it’s the way it has always been done. I wish we could change that.

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Sports are similar to life in so many ways. The elite of society get the benefit of the doubt. For example, rich men get beautiful women and the beautiful women are so often let off the hook.

In this sense, professional sports are no different.

The Wade’ and Kobe’s in basketball get more fouls called, the Brady’s and Manning’s in football get more yellow flags tossed in their favour and the Roy Halladay’s of the world get a bigger strike zone.

And here I am thinking that equality was something society strived toward.

The Blue Jays and Phillies game today featured Roy Halladay’s long awaited return to the city of Toronto. The game also featured some very inconsistent but typical game calling from home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.

The fans sure let him know it and more so than any regular season game I have ever seen.

For 9 innings, Alfonso Marquez was giving the benefit to Roy Halladay while Blue Jay pitchers were forced to pitch in a confined strike zone. It all culminated in Blue Jay reliever Jon Rauch’s very amusing ejection. He had reason to be upset considering a 3-2 curve ball that caught the knees on Ryan Howard, that would have ended the inning, was called a ball. He blew up after the next batter, Shane Victorino, hit a single to drive in a run.

He didn’t blow up because of the one call though. It was the frustration of an entire game in which the better team and the better pitcher received better treatment. According to Pitch FX, the Blue Jays had 10 strikes called balls while the Phillies had 1.

The typicality in this kind of umpiring is nothing new. It is everything that is wrong with the mentality of society and how we see people above us. These people are special and we believe they should be treated in that way. Apparently, they have earned something that puts them above the rules.

Greg Maddux built a career on being able get strikes called on pitches thrown 3, 4 and even 5 inches off the plate. These were Pitches that batters had less of a chance at hitting than a chess champion has at picking up Jessica Alba. I guess umpires felt bad for Maddux and his perfect control. He needed extra room off the plate too.

The plate that is supposed to be set in stone. It is there for a reason yet umpires continually choose to expand it for stars like Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera. It makes great pitchers absolutely unhittable.

Star players haven’t earned the right to bend the rules and rookies shouldn’t have to earn the right to get calls within the rules. The rules are put in place to ensure fairness. Every single player should have earned the right to get the same call as the next no matter how many years they have played in the league or how many 0’s are in their contract.

Referees, umpires, fans, players, former players, writers and analysts all seem to find this appropriate. That should make us livid.

We expect superstars to get better treatment when it should not be the case. It is another one of those instances in society where we accept it because it is the norm and always has been.

Do you think it’s fair when multi-bizzilionaire Alex Rodriguez gets out of paying a speeding ticket and you don’t when you’re struggling to pay the bills with 2 kids and a second mortgage on the house? I didn’t think so.

It also isn’t fair for Carlos Villaneuva to have to fight for every strike when his considerably more talented counterpart Roy Halladay does not.

I’m not sure what makes me angrier. Star players receiving every edge imaginable or people unwilling to challenge completely illogical societal norms.

When are fans going to step and say that this isn’t okay? When are fans going to step up and say that we can’t ignore this any longer?

Talent across sports will never be on an equal plain but there is no reason why the rules can’t be. Stop excusing the problem with “he has earned it” and start challenging the issue at hand.

As similar as sports can be to life it still isn’t the real world. This might be a fact of life but it doesn’t have to be a fact in sports.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Greatest owner ever…? Hardly.

George Steinbrenner (left) and Billy Martin (right) didn't always get along

They say that money can’t buy happiness. Well try telling that to New York Yankee fans.

In 37 years under George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees won 7 World Series titles and 11 pennants. In 1973, Steinbrenner turned a $10 million investment into a franchise that is now worth an estimated $1.6 billion.

Following his death yesterday, the baseball world has been buzzing at the tragedy but also about the legend that is George Steinbrenner. Despite the fact that Steinbrenner made the Yankees into perennial contenders, there is much reason to believe why he should not be considered one of the greatest owners in the history of sports.

George Steinbrenner is probably best known to the casual sports fan for his outrageous spending on top flight players. But he is also well-known for his constant hiring and firings of his employees.

7 World titles in 37 years seems like a lot of championships, but when you think about it, with that much money being thrown around they probably should have had even more.

As I mentioned above, George Steinbrenner is not one to shy away from spending his money. To this day, the Yankees do not care about spending above the “salary cap” and paying a bit of a luxury tax. They are willing to trade money for championships and that is something that you have to give George Steinbrenner a lot of credit for. It is a path that should be taken more often by owners because what is really the difference between having $300 and $200 million?

It is frequently overlooked that the Yankees had a championship drought for 17 years (1979-1995), which goes to show that ludicrous spending and instability in a franchise is not always going to be the answer to winning championships.

If you look at the years when the Yankees started winning again, it was not just because they were buying all their players. It all started again when the front office decided that the Franchises insufficient development of talent through their system was not getting the job done, and it was time to start bringing up players through the minor league ranks.

Think about it, throughout the last 14 years there have been four core players that are still to this day high quality major league players. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada. What you have there is the four most important pieces of any team. You have a starting shortstop, starting pitcher, closer, and first-string catcher.

Those four guys have been a constant among the Yankees organization and are the primary reason why they have won so many championships. Let’s not forget Bernie Williams who was the starting center-fielder for the better part of ten years.

I do realize that the money that the Yankees are able to spend allow them to surround this nucleus of players with other star guys. When you get star players like Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Alex Rodriguez it is going to be difficult to lose, but the fact of the matter is that the Yankees had a core of guys that they could build around. The Yankees winning formula does not alone stem from George Steinbrenner and his massive spending ways, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

It’s not like the Yankees didn’t buy players when they weren’t winning championships. They brought in guys by the names of Ricky Henderson, Steve Sax, and Dave Winfield who were all unable to deliver the city of New York a championship.

Do you seriously think that Yankees are going to win the same amount of games without the best closer of all time or without the clutch play of Derek Jeter?

Speaking of stability, Joe Torre was only around for oh…11 years, which is the longest tenure for a manager during the George Steinbrenner era.

Contrast that to Steinbrenner’s first 23 seasons as Yankee owner where he changed managers a total of 20 times, which included Billy Martin being fired and rehired 5 times. He also switched general managers 11 times in 30 years. Please do not try to tell me that that kind of instability is not going to hurt a team.

What if you had an owner who had the exact same spending style as George Steinbrenner without all the craziness to go along with it? What if that same owner decided that he was not going to meddle in the affairs of his front office? What if this bizarro Steinbrenner was instead the owner of the New York Yankees?

What you would have is a New York Yankees franchise that would have, in those same 37 years, a greater than or equal amount of championships than the real George Steinbrenner has brought to the Big Apple.

George Steinbrenner may have done a lot of great things for the New York Yankees but he is by no means the greatest owner of all-time.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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