There were a lot of constructive and insightful comments to my post Fairness which bemoaned the threats to the fairness of my favorite game - Laser racing - from two sources... Mommy Boats and Crap Sails.
We've explored the Mommy Boat issue (aka pesky coach boats at regattas) from many angles on this blog before, but a wise commenter named Brass came up with a new question on the topic...
Like it or not, sailing is a 'coached game'. What would you think if the Yankees decided to go into a play-off game without their coaches on the field?
Hmmm. That's a good point. What can we learn from the role of coaching in other sports? Baseball is my favorite "American" sport. Never really did get into pointy football or those tall dudes in baggy shorts running back and forth. And baseball has lots of coaches, and there are several ways in which they are involved in the game during play.
"What would you think if the Yankees decided to go into a play-off game without their coaches on the field?"
Hmmm. I guess you can take that question two ways. Firstly, what would I think if the New York Yankees played the Boston Red Sox (yes, they do make the playoffs some years) and the Red Sox had coaches on the field and the Yankees didn't?
Well, of course that would be grossly unfair. One team has coaches on the field and the other side doesn't? What sport would allow such a terribly inequitable situation?
Ummm. Sailing? Yes. That's exactly the problem I've been ranting on about here for years. Some sailors at a regatta have coaches to help them; others don't. Of course it's unfair. Can you imagine a baseball game where only one side had coaches?
Or perhaps Brass is asking a different question. "What would you think if major league baseball games were played without any coaches on the field at all?"
Great question Brass.
Let's first explore what coaches do in baseball. Each team has several coaches who work with the players in Spring training and between games on such things as fitness, conditioning, hitting, pitching, catching, fielding etc. etc. That's fine. That's equivalent to sailors working with coaches to improve their skills between regattas. I have no objection to that.
But baseball coaches also play a role during the game. Two of them, for the side at bat, are actually on the field during play. One at first base; one at third base. What do they do?
According to this site the job of a first base coach includes...
- Whenever a player gets a hit the first base coach is the first one there to pat him on the bottom and tell him good job
- Remind a runner how many outs the team has gotten.
Whaaaat? Pat him on the bottom? Remind him how many outs there are? Come on! Some superstar baseball jock earning $10 million a year can't perform unless some creepy old geezer pats him on the bottom every time he gets a hit? And he can't count up to three? Two actually. Geeze. Isn't this the ultimate in the pussification of a sport? Is this a role model for sailing?
The job of a third base coach is a little more complicated. Among other things he spends a lot of time patting the top of his head, and scratching his nose, and making the sign of the cross to signal to the players what the team manager wants them to do on the next play. God forbid the jocks should actually have to decided how to play themselves. This would be the equivalent in sailing of a Mommy Boat driver sitting at the windward mark and patting his head three times to mean, "The wind is dying and there's no boats close behind you, so go low on this reach." More pussification.
Is this what we want for our sport?
So yes Brass, I think baseball would be more fun if the coaches weren't on the field. And so would sailing.